Posts about Strategy Execution

Accountability in Leadership: Build Leadership Accountability with the 5 C's Framework

From a leadership perspective, there’s a real thirst for increasing leadership accountability. Executives have recently asked me various questions that linger over the concept of building team accountability to help them achieve their strategic plans while creating high performing teams:

“How do I build accountability in teams?

"How do I increase accountability in leadership?"

What else can I do to get people to do what we need them to do?”

“How can I hold a team member to be held accountable and still be seen as a good leader?”

"How do I balance leadership accountability and personal accountability when building a team?"

"Creating a culture of accountability is hard, how do I provide constructive feedback without being the bad guy?"

Building team accountability requires that we understand a few dynamics because it’s more complicated than we might recognize.  It goes beyond the responsibility for the outcomes, which is obviously important, but effective leaders know that they need a culture of accountability in their teams that provide the inputs needed to achieve the expected team performance.  Holding people accountable is one of the most important things that a successful leader does, but it is also one of the hardest.

Agile Business Planning: Create an Agile Business Plan in the Age of COVID-19

Business is moving faster than ever before, and these days your business needs to be as nimble possible to respond to the rapidly changing business landscape. In today’s nonstop global economy, there is always somebody, somewhere trying to capture part of your market and your customers. This has only increase with the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, you need to be able to pivot faster than ever.  You need to create an organization able to respond to the changes in the market more quickly than ever, or you will lose market share to the competition. Unfortunately, many of the legacy software tools that businesses use don’t adapt fast enough to work in today’s cutthroat global economy and need to be modernized. Software teams realized this decades ago and quickly shifted from the outmoded Waterfall methodology to the Agile software development framework; it is time for the traditional business planning to catch up to this advancement when implementing business strategy.

The ROI of Replacing Strategy Spreadsheets with Systems

Spreadsheets are a powerful tool and very inexpensive. Compared to most software, they seem nearly free. That's why most businesses use a spreadsheet as their tool of choice for working to solve most problems and run many of their strategic projects. Companies use them for project management, financial management, data analytics, task lists, and so many other purposes that I can't even list them all. While spreadsheets are inexpensive and easy to get things started with, they pose a problem for our businesses as we grow.  Have you outgrown your strategy spreadsheet? What is the ROI of replacing it with a system?

The problem with spreadsheets is that while they seem inexpensive and convenient, the labor involved in creating and maintaining them is not. Spreadsheets don't just magically do whatever you need them to do. They are a blank canvas that a spreadsheet artist must craft. To truly get that spreadsheet right takes time from your most expensive assets: your people.  Even the most detailed excel templates require hours of customization.

You must build them, craft formulas and references, format output, and maintain them as the business changes. This takes time and that time costs money. Lots of money. If you start adding up the cost of that time daily, weekly, and monthly, you will find that you are spending more on your spreadsheet creation and maintenance than you would on best-in-class software crafted to solve your specific business problems. I've worked with clients where staff members devote several days a week of their time creating and maintaining spreadsheets. Several days a week! That's nearly half a work week for a highly paid, highly skilled team member.

Not only that, you need to factor the opportunity cost of this time. What growth goals could you have achieved with the time your people spent creating and maintaining your spreadsheets? Instead of programming rows and columns, they could have been formulating and executing against strategic
growth goals for the business. Wow! What a change in mindset that would be!

A spreadsheet is a computer program. They are usually created informally and lack the core elements of professionally developed software. Elements like good requirements gathering, design, and testing for quality assurance by multiple parties. They also lack documentation and product roadmaps for future improvements. So when the staff member who created the spreadsheet leaves, all that problem domain knowledge goes with them.

So that's enough about the problem. What do we do about all the spreadsheets we have and run our business on today? How do we break free from spreadsheet slavery and direct our energy and time toward growth?

I suggest searching out systems that replace what your home-grown spreadsheets are doing for you. Invest in good project management software, good financial management software, good CRM software, a good Business Execution platform like our Rhythm System. You may think that the cost is too high to buy software, but you are fooling yourself. You are actually paying much more in payroll cost, productivity loss, and opportunity cost than you ever would for professional software license fees.  Spreadsheets have their place, but strategic plan execution isn't one of them.

So, start working on a plan today to understand the spreadsheets you are currently using and why. Then put in place software and processes to replace what your spreadsheets are doing for your business. You will see immediate ROI in your investment in these systems and processes and free the minds of your team to direct their energy and time to achieve your goals and dreams of growing the business.

Clear Expectations: How Your Employees Know What Success Looks Like

For many, it's time to roll out those 2021 plans and kick off some new initiatives to help your company build back or accelerate growth in the new year. This may present additional challenges in the current environment in which many teams are working remotely or in hybrid scenarios where some are in the office and some are not. Truthfully, even if your team is all together in the same room, getting aligned around your company's new initiatives can still be a big challenge.

Your Journey to Great Execution in 2021

How much did misalignment cost your organization in 2020? Misalignment comes from poor planning, and it results in poor execution and missed numbers. The missed numbers happen in many categories: poor customer delivery, lost revenue, employee frustration/bad morale, great people leave the company and the loss of great customers. You don't want your team looking like this one.

Implementation Process: Implementing New Processes and Procedures

What is process implementation and what does it mean to me?  As companies grow, the need to establish and effective implementation processes to help you scale to meet your business goals becomes inevitable. We've all reached a place in our role when the way we used to do things no longer works and we have to innovate. Necessity becomes the mother of invention - there's really no way to avoid it in a healthy growing company.  The best companies are continually improving and have systems to implement a new process quickly and effectively.

The truth remains, however: implementing new processes at work is hard. It's some of the most challenging work that teams do. Some teams struggle with change itself - it pushes people out of their comfort zone and sometimes there is resistance. Other teams struggle to develop the processes themselves - they can't agree on the best way to proceed to improve the business process. Even if you can define a new process and make some headway on changing people's mindsets, there is still the uphill battle for implementing the key processes that turn plans into action. Management teams can help their employees to implement a new business process in five simple ways to maximize their implementation efforts and build the best project team to get it implemented.

Rhythm Helps Drake Forecast Better to Meet Customer Deadlines [Client Spotlight]

A Better Way to Forecast Customer Growth

How a manufacturing company improved their ability to forecast when production needed to ramp up to meet customer demand

As a provider of custom-built machines that help food processing companies load frankfurters, sausages, cheese sticks and other products, Drake has to forecast when customer demand arises so they can have all of the appropriate teams and resources in place (engineering, welder, machinists, etc.) in order to meet their deadlines.

George Reed, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, shared that sales forecasts, expenses and hiring plans were historically determined once a year during their annual budgeting and forecasting process.

Creating Synergy Between Cross Functional Teams (Updated for 2021)

One of the most important components of the Rhythm Systems, the Think-Plan-Do methodology is to implement a planning rhythm that includes the next level of management.  Taking Think-Plan-Do to operational teams creates alignment to the company plan and helps each team get focused on the next 90 days. But, how can that help teams that need to work together?  How do you get two different operational teams to work together, not only in a positive way, but in a way that produces maximum impact on results and creates synergy between teams?

How Middle Market CEOs Execute on Strategy for Success (Updated for 2021)

Most Companies Fail Due to Poor Strategic Execution

As a fan of Blue Ocean strategy, you already know how important it is to have the right strategy. But, a great strategy executed poorly produces lackluster results and missed targets. Unfortunately, most companies and top executives focus their efforts on developing a strong strategy but spend very little time converting those strategies into “execution ready” plans that clearly define the actual work team members need to do to bring the 3-5 year strategic plan as determined in your planning process to fruition.


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