Strategy II – Keeping focused

Distractions are everywhere. Organizations are full of them, clients and suppliers create them all the time and people bring them in on a daily basis. So without even mentioning the core function of an organization, it is not unreasonable to forget strategy, deal with the distractions and get on with the day-to-day.

This can be acceptable providing one condition is met.

  • The organization contains enough people who are completing the key strategic actions.

‘Enough’ can be measured by confirming that the strategic actions are being completed by the defined dates. Making this assessment give you confidence or concern. If you achieve a positive at each assessment you can be confident that your organization should be progressing toward its goals.

Considering the opposite result correction is essential.

First, establish visibility of the strategic actions. They must be on the agenda at regular meetings, consider posting them visibly in workspaces. Make the most important actions for the progression of your organization unavoidable.

Next, establish accountability. This is a simple prospect if you have completed the visibility step successfully. Definition of ownership and peer review are required. Take care here to hold those accountable who have the capacity and skills to complete the actions – don’t set people up for failure.

Taking a small tangent to the ownership of strategic actions, there is a common mistake that senior managers take all the actions for themselves. Why?

Ego, a false belief that only senior managers can think strategically? Whatever the reason it is false. Effective senior managers are engaged in the day to day, they help direct work and contribute. They should contribute very effectively so why not engage all the staff. This is the simple trick, share the most important actions – accountability simply becomes part of the usual line management day to day.

Plus as an added bonus staff will feel engaged and part of the future.

Simple, strategic action delivery as part of normal business.

Risk III – Can’t believe your luck

Good, you shouldn’t believe in luck.

It is human nature to be attached to beliefs, dreams and the notion that luck plays a part in our lives. This is a risk that can negatively impact your organization. Got a salesperson on a hot streak – are they lucky or just experiencing circumstances that mean they are winning a higher than normal quantity of work? Negotiation goes well – were you lucky or well prepared and unaware of the needs of the other party?

Consider that the perceived luck could also be a false impression of a limited data set. When we review events we tend to focus. That focus is usually tight limiting our view and the data we use to make conclusions. Consider again the salesperson, was their hot streak permanent suggesting good luck or was it limited when you assess the full body of their work. That negotiation a singular event in a long relationship or contract the luck you considered was only visible with that tight focus.

To compound this risk it is a simple function of mathematics and statistical probability to determine that following a period of good luck a period of bad luck must follow. This return to average will happen. Clearly, the average may be skewed by the positive event or events that catch your attention but a return to average will happen.

The risk then is small data samples and human nature. To manage this risk which can impact many areas of your organization you must establish:

  • Process – how your organization does things
  • Review periods that align with your organizations’ activities
  • Key Indicators that truly give factual information – that you then use

So being lucky is good, but being honest about your organization based on a set of facts is better. Unless you are in Vegas – then have some fun but remember hot streaks end, averages exist for a reason and those nice hotels weren’t cheap so you might win but definitely not more than those hosting the games.