by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“What is our optimum requirement to increase our organization performance?” Question posed by company CEO who was aiming to grow from a relatively small enterprise into a mid-sized business.    

 

    He was sitting in the midst of about 20 other CEOs-senior executives. Clearly he was hoping they would share their group wisdom to enlighten his thinking. How many conventional CEO or executive forums have you attended, where you had hoped to reap a few pearls of wisdom? Too often, however, it was likely you weren’t able to optimize on the opportunity because you didn’t have a common framework or reference points with which you could compare notes.  Good advice often goes out of the window because we’re not given a metaphor – or mind-picture – to help us fully assimilate it.

Your writer recently attended a major soccer game in Europe. The crowd was able to appreciate the ebbs and flows, individual and team performance, as well as the final outcome – which was a tie or “draw” in European parlance – because everyone was working within the same framework, with the same rules and with the same view of play. Most CEOs or executives from various organizations don’t have that possibility, because they’re all working within different markets, with different products or services; that is, they’re all using a somewhat different frame of reference. However, they do have similar leadership issues; although even those are governed differences in relative size or exactly where their enterprises are within their growth cycle. In sports, you tend to have similar standard teams playing each other in similar grade leagues.

One constant in the business world, is that so many companies utilize the traditional command-and-control mode of planning, organizing, directing and controlling. Our CEO, quoted at the outset, was attempting to lift himself out of that box, along with his other forum participants. Instead, they aimed to set their sights on entertaining enlightened leadership possibilities with its world of envisioning, positioning, engaging and collaborating. It advocates five phases of interlinked activity, namely – Decision Clarity, Pathfinding, People Motivation, Teamwork, and Momentum Building. Current readers have already been introduced to these five phases over time and so they will be familiar with the many benefits of utilizing them. In particular, you gain much higher levels of people engagement for the exact same investment.

As you can see, this article is devoted to Phase 1- Decision Clarity and therefore re-introduces you to its more advanced decision-making approach called Option Solving (OS). OS brings many powerful advantages to CEOs and senior executives, especially in their desire to upgrade organizational performance, as indicated at the outset. It offers a more optimal decision-making approach than your competitors right out of the gate, because they’re still sticking with either ad hoc or way-more rational, analytical approaches – usually resulting in either-or outcomes.  OS offers a choice, out of a range of smart possibilities within your market or company, so you already have one considerable leg up.

One of OS’s many advantages is that it provides a sound framework with seven guiding principles, which will ultimately produce an actionable outcome. Hence it gives a group of CEOs or executives, or teams at any level, a common frame where each other is coming from. From this they can share value and insights through common reference points.

 

      Now take a look at the above option solving pictogram, which shows you the initial, rational question he and his CEO-executive cohorts developed. It also includes some key considerations:

»What is our optimum requirement to increase our organization performance to another level; considering 1) varying ages of staff, 2) cost of changes, 3) our marketplace, and 4) gaining the buy-in of our workforce?

Note the four considerations which are key to providing our intuitive minds the context from which an effective conclusion can reveal itself. The group did, in fact, produce more considerations, but deliberately stuck with these four primary ones to minimize complexity.

Option solving then guided them to produce two extremely unlikely “bookends;” namely – ‘Make no changes’ and‘Completely change every process.’ Being the most unlikely of choices, they spurred fertile, intuitive minds into conjuring-up at least 5 plausible options. They were able to pinpoint more than 5, but this is the minimum number prescribed within OS to adequately challenge our often dormant innovative minds to perceive an optimal range of options. 

You can now spot the six options they developed as inspired by the original rational question. So let’s list them here for clarity:

» Hire a consultant, educator in motivation techniques.

» Create stronger teams within the company.

» Implement performance reviews.

» Develop our leadership teams at every level.

» Survey our employees to see what they think is important.

» Control our costs more closely.

 Once their pictogram choices were clear, they were encouraged to take a break for some emotional distancing (ED). ED permits them to shut their pictogram away for an hour, two hours or several hours – including sleeping-on-it – and focus on something quite different. It creates a natural break for devoting some time for another task or issue. Meanwhile, their intuitive minds subconsciously cogitate over their pictogram – the picture makes it more memorable – and relate it to their life’s experiences and decisions. Just like that, their mind starts crystallizing around the most likely option.

When they returned as a group, they quickly reacquainted themselves with their pictogram and were invited to anony-mously disclose their decision-option: anonymity was requested so that “group think” wouldn’t occur. In this instance, the majority opted for Option D – Develop our leadership teams at every level. They actually saw leadership as the key ingredient. Now they were in a position to either put together an action initiative – consisting of what, how, who, when, and where (to go for allies) – OR ‘Peel the Onion’ for revealing sub-options to unearth an optimal approach to Option D.

In fact, they chose the latter course and so we will follow-through on that in two weeks time to see where they went with this revelation. By this time you will have noted that they asked the appropriate, all encompassing original question, they dismissed least likely options, and chose their optimal possibility from a range of interesting options. They weren’t trapped into either-or – not a good judgmental situation to be in for important decisions unless they’re fairly obvious.

  So next time around, we’ll delve into Option D much more and determine what options lie behind “Taking this executive’s desire to increase his organization’s performance to another level: through developing his leadership teams at every level.” By reviewing a range of plausible options, we’re more likely to be satisfied that we’ve flushed out our optimal option or pathway, rather than being hemmed-in by either-or. The latter is not a particularly good place to be because it limits creativity and fresh alternatives.

To learn more about Option Solving and decision-making, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“Collaboration by employees across different departments is essential but seldom easy…For companies having employees labor in isolation can be costly.” Article by Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal, November 2017.

 


Although collaboration makes enormous sense, how do we break our individualistic, solitary work habit that we’ve fostered over the past 100 years? Before the hey-day of the industrial revolution – early 1900s and beyond – things were somewhat different. Workers toiled in fields with their labor-songs and household staff worked in teams in kitchens or living room areas. This meant, by and large, they could enjoy each others company and team-up to take care of their chores.

 

Frederick Taylor and his industrial efficiency movement changed all that during the early 1900s. He inspired industrial barons to focus on assembly lines, where workers were encouraged to compete against themselves and others in the pursuit of optimum efficiency. Talking to others, other than at meager breaks, was discouraged. Henry Ford was quite open about his desire to just employ pairs-of-hands rather than people.

 

We still come across some of this assembly line mentality in today’s work environment, even more so in computer programming or trading shops, or administrative pools, where everyone sits in conformity in front of their screens. However, there’s a break-in-the-mold software house that swears-by utilizing programmers in pairs. Its proprietor, Rich Sheridan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, points out the benefits: which include projects always being completed on time, participants not needing to work extra hours, staff always enjoying uninterrupted vacations, and the prospect of learning a lot from each other. You can bet that the return on investment of pairing people together far outweighs the traditional individual efficiency approach. You can probably speculate as to why, as you work your way through this article.

 

In addition to the many gains indicated so far, work-pairing brings far greater perceived resiliency in difficult situations; which are why police, pilots, surgeons and special forces teams work in pairs. Since two heads are arguably better than one, pairs can watch out for each other, reinforce each other, and fill-the-gap when one partner has a personal emergency. So work-pairing is a great way to build sustained momentum, especially with younger generations who are not hidebound by traditional industrial age, efficiency thinking.

 

Another great way to build momentum, when dealing with more expansive projects, is to form a team of 6-7 people – even more so when they can be made cross-functional. Six to seven people has proven to be the optimum, effective team size many times over. More members than this and cohesion, communication ties and overall commitment begin to break down. Even larger sports teams associated with football, soccer or baseball break down into smaller offensive or defensive clusters. Other teams like basketball or ice hockey meet the smaller standard when you think about it.

 

Working with these larger 6-7 teams, you can observe participants building a common purpose, strategy and execution framework that will encourage bonding and a unify focus on tangible outcomes. Ideally, they collaborate to prioritize key issues that need to be solved for accomplishing their mission. Then they determine the three most crucial ones for making decisive progress. At this point, they can pair-up or form a threesome – where an odd number is apparent – and each pair picks one of their three top priorities so all three are covered. Hopefully these top priorities are significant enough that they will have some impact on lower order priorities, too.

 

Once a team of 6-7, always a team of 6-7, until its more expansive project is accomplished. So, even though they break-off into pairings or threesomes, they regularly come together to share progress experiences until the project is completed. That way, when the full-team meets, it can offer suggestions or insights toward each pair’s challenges. One reality of teamwork is that: ‘No team can move forward faster than its slowest member.’ So, by breaking it up into pairs, it can help offset this challenge: particularly if your slower member is paired with the most potentially capable and/or patient person available.

 

Consider now some of the key points associated with collaboration, as raised in the quoted WSJ article:

» Silos can prevent companies from providing good service or making products customers say they want.

     » Enterprises are trying to foster collaboration to help them react more quickly to market changes.

» Many staff say their projects and designs have grown more innovative and broader in scope due to closer co-operation.

» Working across many disciplines at the same time, enables organizations to tackle issues they otherwise wouldn’t have attempted.

» Projects are more likely to be rolled out on time.

 » Teaming staff with diverse backgrounds, tends to produce better ideas and decisions.

 

     Looking through this WSJ article, you will also find several references to the use of team tools to enable participants to better understand each other’s communication and learning styles. Your writer has demonstrated the remarkable value of his own Mercury Communication Preference Survey in enabling team members to collaborate in ways they didn’t think were possible before. Making best use of such tools can require a little patience at the outset, but pay dividends in the long run.  

 

If need be, start with a few baby steps in collaboration. Pair some of your most promising people together to tackle some of your more challenging projects or issues. Even so, try to avoid putting strong likes together, since they are likely to become frustrated with each other over time. Better to put dissimilar people together in pairs, where they can benefit from each other’s complementary talents. Now you will witness much greater momentum across your enterprise.

 

As you see the results emerge, so you will gain the courage to go further and expand the pairing-principle to many other organization domains. Perhaps we can finally put that deep-seated industrial age thinking behind us?

 

To learn more about “building momentum,” talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.

“A team comprises 6 – no more than 7- people who join together to accomplish a common, highly-prized objective that is important to all of them and their organization. A successful action team is usually two.”

    

 

Leaves were abundant a couple of months back – at Fall’s first sign – on the sidewalks of Washington Square Park, New York. Yes and you guessed right: this article was drafted at that time, although its contents are still quite pertinent. Those leaves are still the daily clean-up chore for a gaggle of six park-workers; probably people being rehabilitated toward a more productive life. Your writer noted the clean-up progress every-other-day as he took an early morning, fast walk around the park’s perimeter sidewalk – he estimates somewhere around a half-mile per lap. He calls it his local gymnasium!

 

On that memorable morning, he noticed unattended swathes of leaves on the park’s north side, which were creating a slippery mess due to recent rainfall. But on the south side, near the park’s administrative offices, surprise-surprise, the sidewalk was totally shipshape.

 

Needless to say, he bumped into the group of six clean-up ladies, adorned in their bright green t-shirts, where he congratulated them on their job well-done on the south side. They smiled with pride, which gave him the opportunity to enquire about the other three sides. “Oh, yes!” they chorused. “We will!” Two days later, on his alternate day walk, everything was spic-and-span on all sides.

 

What is the moral of this everyday story? Those other three sidewalks had been looking pretty neglected over the prior ten days, which served as an extra prod for him to nudge those ladies that particular morning. It seemed, only by shedding light on the issue, were those lovely ladies going to rise to the challenge. No doubt their supervisor was stuck in front of his-her computer screen; filling out the stats on the number of leaves that fell, the ratio of dry leaves to wet ones, how many staffers refused to pick up a broom, and how many office staff refused to speak with street staff! All vitally important management information!

 

Your writer has been reflecting on this park clean-up matter ever since.  As he put his drafting-pen to paper, to draw attention to this particular teamwork issue, he couldn’t help thinking about how this seeming lack of initiative by those ladies is one key emblematic issue of organization management: where staff appear insufficiently engaged or empowered to take obvious steps. He started to think about alternative approaches. How often do you experience something similar within your organization?

 

Our next question usually is: “What can we do about it?” And that’s where putting on that Park Supervisor’s “hat”… using a job title so common in many local government organizations… raises all sorts of thoughts. To start with, we should change that role title from supervisor to Park Team Leader. That way, depending on the person wearing that “hat,” we may well change his-her thinking from one of modeling an administrative, inspection role to more of an anticipatory, people-focused one. Where:

Administrative – reducing time spent on bureaucratic paperwork and counting every blade of grass cut in the park. Our obsession with counting is tiresome and yet amusing, and takes leaders away from interacting with their people.

Inspection – reducing time spent on looking over people’s shoulders and pointing out what they’re doing wrong.

Anticipatory – looking ahead to tomorrow or next week as a prelude to positioning things for ongoing park success.

People-focused – engaging available staff, so they willingly meet their fair share of everything that needs to be done.

 

Besides, that park lead-person will find leading much more gratifying than supervising – most of us normal people would see it this way, although some people are just born to be bossy. This leading view is spot-on in conjunction with the viewpoints shared above and below:

 

» Taking advantage of collective versus individual action – You will recall there were six ladies in that south-side park gaggle; all buzzing around adjacent to the park office, where they would wish to be noticed. How about, with my Park Team Leader’s hat on, if they were encouraged to break-up into three teams of two – known as work-pairing?

     It was clear that they were enjoying being part of that gaggle, which reinforces again the social nature of human beings. To now send them all off on individual clean-up assignments around the park would be a form of purgatory. How about, instead, breaking them into pairs; especially with other group members they would enjoy teaming-up with? Now let one pair be responsible for the north-sidewalk, another pair the east and west side-walks, and the

remaining pair for the south-sidewalk. Pairing, after all, as many articles have been written about it, is a particularly effective size team for getting things done; as this writer has proven over many years.

Such paired-ladies, or men, or man and woman, would take great pride in keeping their sidewalk domains clear of leaves and other weekly debris, as well as likely relish working with each other. You could equally allow them to switch into different pairings, just to enjoy other team members, too. Their domains would most probably be pristine and they would show great pride in keeping them that way. So how about looking at other park areas for similar treatment? Now that would be something worth sharing in that every-day management, computer reporting system!

 

» End of individual efficiency models – Would this be the end of such models? Individual efficiency models were likely developed over 100 years ago; designed for long production lines, where people were banned from talking with each other for fear they would waste valuable time. Can you imagine how life-sterile that was and still is in certain parts of the world? That’s when people were just regarded as being pairs-of-hands: as famously defined by Henry Ford when he was quoted as saying; “Why to do I have to hire the whole person, when all I need is a pair-of hands?”

     Rich Sheridan, President of Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor, Michigan, would go out of his way to convince you of the enormous value in pairing. His software programmers constantly work in rotating pairs with huge advantages, which far outweigh the individual efficiency model cost. Take a look at his book, ‘Joy, Inc.’

 

Having argued for this enlightened approach, this writer uses pairing all the time in executive development projects to the considerable advantage of his clients. To get the most out of such pairings, participants expect the following:

» A clear purpose with clearly defined human and numerical outcomes.

» They need a framework of working principles and values that feel conducive to them.

» Have sufficient know-how, or the possibility to retrieve the right know-how, will be important to them.

» Be allocated enough resources or be allowed to pursue essential resources at their own volition.

» Receive regular respect and reinforcement will also help keep their tails up.

» Wherever you can, give them an objective read-out on their respective communication preferences – that way they can better understand how to partner with each other…contact peter@ileadershipsolutions.com.

 

And so, ‘Falling leaves in the Park,’ or whatever work context you find yourselves in, is a great way to work more effectively and naturally with your people. Don’t forget, done right, collaborative effectiveness trumps individual efficiency in so many areas. It just requires a little more thought, in terms of positioning and leadership to take full advantage of it. But then, anything worth doing requires more than traditional passing thoughts … like, “That’s the way it’s always been done.”

 

Put your work-pairing and 6-7special project teams in place soonest. You won’t regret it.

______________________________________________________________________

To learn more about team building, please contact:

 



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

‘“I was working in another glass box near here,” a Liveops agent shared at a company event. “I reached the point where it was either jump off the roof or walk out the front door.” The other agents laughed knowingly.’ As reported in NY Times Business article entitled: ‘Paradise at the End of a Phone Line,’ November 2017, by Noam Scheiber.

 


Twenty or more years ago this writer recalls how commonplace it was for executives or owners to pursue ‘fire all my people’ – otherwise known as cleaning house. However, tougher employment laws – spearheaded by certain progressive countries in Europe – have made it increasingly more difficult to do that. In earlier days organization turn-around specialists wouldn’t think twice about doing so. But then increasingly more enlightened thinkers pointed out the institutional memory loss by ‘cleaning house.’ And so executives have become much more cautious about pursuing such an option today.

 

At the same time, we’ve all read stories about where prominent teams or organizations have been turned around by enlightened leaders. One of the more famous success stories within the past twenty years or so was IBM. IBM was in a lot of trouble when Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of food and tobacco giant RJR Nabisco, was tapped to succeed

John Akers: the life-long career IBM’er. No one else within computer industry leadership positions at the time would touch the job.

 

Akers was asked to step down from leading a rapid IBM decline a year after he was famously quoted as saying, “The only thing wrong with IBM is that there are too many people standing by the water-coolers.” This writer was stunned when he read this at the time, because what Akers was implying was that his people were not particularly engaged in his company. Just think about this; ‘Why would people be standing around their water-coolers?’

 

Gerstner moved into IBM in 1993, despite not having worked anywhere near a computer company. Prior to his time at RJR Reynolds he was a senior executive at American Express and was particularly successful there. So he came to the company with a fresh set of leadership eyes. He assumed there were a lot of capable people in the company and took at least six months to size up the situation. There were reports in the press about impatient bankers and Wall Street types who couldn’t wait for him to fire a lot of people and get the company profitable again… making money was first and foremost as the typical, bottom-line mantra at that time.  (NOTE: More enlightened thinkers today appreciate that if you take care of all your stakeholders – including customers, suppliers, staff and team leaders – you will make all the money your marketplace will bear.)

 

He concluded from many able IBM executives and others across the organization that they didn’t see much of a future for the legendary company at that time. That it was in a schizoid mode: part mainframe company, part PC company and part software house, where each market had a different drumbeat. Mainframes were dying fast as PCs were gaining ground, while top executives had grown up in a mainframe environment and were stuck with that mindset. The more progressive thinkers convinced Gerstner that the company had a brighter future in integrated computer solutions.

 

With this fresh compelling purpose, he got people’s attention. He had listened to them and treated their views with respect and so they became committed to turning the company around. As renewed success came IBM’s way, people started feeling a sense of accomplishment once more. People in the slimmed down company, as it sold off its manufacturing plants, started to feel more relaxed and greater camaraderie ensued. Also, Gerstner gave them a more significant sense of empowerment enabling them to contribute much more. Finally, he ensured the right training and development was in place to operate a software and computer consulting house. Overall, he saved a famous company, where it now thrives in another form.

 

Now we can think on another level. Let’s consider that small firm (or team) which has lost its growth impetus and is struggling to survive. What should the owner do: fire all the people, especially as there’s less legal protection for businesses under 15 people? Should the owner fire all the people or fire them up? Or is it a combination of the two; as per Lou Gerstner?

 

A likely path could be as follows – again see the parallels with Gerstner:

» Clarify Near-Term Vision and PurposeGather those 10-15 people around you and have a three tier conversation- through sub-groupings in an undistracted place, wherever possible, covering:

  • 3 things we enjoy about our workplace and 3 things we would like to see different? – Sub-groups compare listings for combined thinking.
  • Do we need to transform our business, step-it-up or continue as we are? – Group discussion along with individual poll to discover A, B or C and reach a consensus.
  • Once decided: What priority initiatives do we need to pursue over the next 3-6 months to make our consensus choice happen? – A list of consensus priorities will emerge.

(NOTE: Such an activity helps to build a compelling purpose, a feeling that our voice counts, and imparts vital know-how.)

 

» People EngagementWith a team of ten people, you can break them into 5 pairs or 3 groupings (2×3 and 1×4). Discourage sub-teams of greater than 3-4, although pairing works best as a team size where it’s important to get something accomplished. (NOTE: This can be done especially successfully with a survey indicating persona types.)

These sub-teams or pairs can now volunteer to take on one of the corresponding number of top-priority initiatives. Their immediate objective will be to map-out a priority action initiative (PAI). It will answer the questions: WHAT do we need to accomplish – the priority issue? HOW will we accomplish it – through a series of coherent steps? WHO will handle each step – by team members or others? WHEN will each step be completed – without trying to take on too much at once? And, WHERE will we go for allies – to help us succeed, both from within and without?

(NOTE: Here we see accomplishment and camaraderie at work.)

 

» Follow-through and Success Appreciation – The team or company leader-sponsor must now regularly interact with the PAI teams to challenge them in a constructive way to keep their commitments. When sub-teams complete their important priority initiative there should be some sort of recognition or celebration – a special meeting over coffee, sub-team lunch, a free half-day, a valuable book for each member, or a letter of appreciation, and so forth. Nothing lavish, but a token of appreciation for a good job done.

(NOTE: Such an approach encourages empowerment, recognition and a sense of achievement.)

 

Through activities like this, the team or enterprise leader will readily observe which members are stepping-up to the task of contributing to the turn-around and who is coasting.  For those who are clearly contributing that leader should find every reasonable opportunity to show appreciation for their efforts. For those who appear to be coasting, the leader needs to find a quiet corner for discussing their attitudes and contribution. If it becomes clear that the individual has lost their enthusiasm for their role and the enterprise, they should be given a graceful exit option to clear the way for a fresh and more willing person to succeed them.

 

All of this takes time and leadership patience to pull-off. It’s rather like going through the stricture within an hour-glass. Once you have addressed the purpose and engagement issues, the firm will have progressed. Pairing initiatives will have resolved some key issues; rather than leaving it all up to you. Less engaged people will have left, which is good for the enterprise and workplace colleagues. Renewed success will become more of an everyday experience, where success breeds more success. That’s what enlightened leadership is all about!

 

To learn more about workplace people engagement, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“There’s nothing so rare as a plan,” was attributed to Napoleon by more than one historian, although others have disputed that.

 


Generals as successful as Napoleon probably didn’t have a plan. If anything, he more likely would have had a battle framework before his troops moved forward. Most effective leaders have a mental framework before they proceed. In Napoleon’s case: certain natural battle boundaries, a broad vision of victory, appropriate troop formations needed – based on their various competence levels – and the messages he would send to his commanders and troops to inspire them to fight to the last man..

 

He wouldn’t have precise battle plans because battlefields are so fluid – rather like marketplaces. It would be suicidal to have everything spelled out and then fall apart the moment fighting commenced.  This is why so many strategic plans get ditched: their whole chronology is under-mined no sooner than people begin to execute them. Their rigid, impersonal nature

often cause them to buckle quickly once kicked-off and so people’s belief in them also collapses shortly thereafter.

 

Napoleon would also have had within his battle framework assurance that his troops would have the armory they needed and that his troops were better trained and more fearsome than those of his enemy. Also he would have incorporated battle principles like:

» Try to flank your enemy unless you have overwhelming odds.

» Don’t engage your enemy unless they’re within range of your muskets.

» Take down their leaders first as well as their battle flags.

He may also have induced winning values like – be brave, stand your ground, and watch your comrade’s back. Principles and values are also an integral part of any effective battle framework; although should speak directly to the people who will be abiding by them.

 

Moving on to present times; it’s the time of year when executives start giving much attention to: “What’s next?” However, in place of pulling out your last strategic plan, why not take a lead from Napoleon and formulate a strategic framework instead? Let’s take a look at some of the differences and then you’ll probably be inspired to do just that:

»Planning is Two Dimensional: Framing is Four Dimensional – Most strategic plans are focused on the two dimensions, numbers – in terms of revenues and profits – and structure – how things are to be set-up to accomplish those numbers. In the case of non-profits, they’re more likely focused on the number of donors and the resulting revenues; which are then dispersed through a structure to deliver the required services.

Whereas with strategic frameworks, they bring four dimensions: Compelling vision – what does the outcome look like? Primary know-howwhat do we need to know to accomplish our vision? Vital resourceswhat complete range of resources will be necessary? And, finally, key outcomes what numerical and human outcomes should we expect? In the case of non-profits; their ultimate focus is on the human outcomes. These four dimensions are formulated with all key constituents in mind: customers, suppliers, workplace people, leaders, owners/shareholders and community.

 

»Planning has Limited Shelf-life: Framing brings an Ongoing Dynamic – Too often strategic plans lose their focus and momentum soon after they’re launched. Could this be because they’re cocooned in a bevy of numbers and structured strategies, which too often focus on the people who will primarily benefit from them – owners and shareholders? Scant mention is made about the people who will produce the numbers. It’s rather like living a story that doesn’t include you. No wonder younger generations are increasingly turning their backs on this deal.

   Strategic framing, on the other hand, refers time and again to all the people beneficiaries and associated markets that will gain from your organization’s products or services. Your people are involved in this think-approach.

 

»Planning is about System Delivery: Framing focuses on People Delivery – Typical strategic planning puts a great deal of effort into designing a system to deliver the desired results. It also assumes that “hands” will produce the required widgets and consequently reap the desired financial numbers. “Hands” were defined by Henry Ford because he only wanted pairs of hands; not the people associated with them.

     On the contrary, framing defines the know-how, resources and leadership that will inspire people to deliver an optimum performance. That sounds like a real deal.

 

»Planning is only about Numerical Goals: Framing is about Numerical and Human Outcomes – As indicated earlier, strategic planning is all about the numbers and the delivery systems to achieve them. Those numbers and systems are of primary interest to the bosses, owners and shareholders.

Strategic framing, by the same token, specifies the desired revenues and profits, but also indicates how workplace people will benefit – in terms of more training and resources, enhanced working-conditions and tools, possible team bonuses, and so on. Human outcomes, such as prestige in the community, pride in company success, joy at team contributions, allowed time for community activities, and so on, are also important in a framework.

 

  »Planning provides Structure: Framing offers Empowerment – Strategic planning provides the structure for organizing, directing and controlling with the intent of meeting required deliverables. It’s usually an impersonal and purely rational roadmap designed to meet owner/shareholder expectations.

          Strategic framing, by contrast, outlines the people empowerment gained by properly positioning things, engaging them at every level, and internal-external collaboration vital to surpassing desired outcomes.

 

»Planning produces Debatable Buy-in: Framing produces Higher Buy-in – For all of the above planning attributes, it is normal for only a number of numerate executives to buy-into the strategic plan and its goals. It’s also normal for the workforce and first level team-leadership to buy-in only marginally, since they are not typically involved in its formulation and they will probably not benefit much from the outcome.

     With strategic framing, its constant rhythm is about involving all the stakeholders as much as practicable, so as to build higher buy-in. Higher levels of buy-in will do much to propel your organization forward.

 

     Strategic planning has been dubbed an oxymoron by so many well-versed strategic thinkers, owing to its dependence on simultaneous analysis and synthesis which the human brain is not equipped for. Its impersonal nature and lop-sided beneficiaries also gives it limited shelf-life and appeal.

 

    Strategic framing by design aims to include all the interested stakeholders at every turn – including all the people involved in delivering its outcomes. Its focus brings a compelling purpose and human outcomes that most organization participants can identify with. Hence, it achieves its objective of breathing life and performance into your enterprise in every possible way.

 

Give it an honest opportunity this year and see the difference. (Note: The difference between the Houston Astros baseball team and the New York Yankees, in their 7 game series for the league championship, where the Astros prevailed; was AJ Hinch’s total reliance and belief in his team members and Joe Girardi’s total reliance and belief in his tome of a playbook.)

To find out more about building a strategic pathway, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved