Category Archives: Transforming the Organization

Strategic initiatives bring about significant organizational change.

Operational Excellence or Strategic Excellence?

The following question was asked by an executive at a startup: Is it ever too soon to start working toward operational excellence? What, if anything, needs to come before this? Here is my answer: Excellence is one of those “know-it-when-I-see-it” … Continue reading

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Five Mental Anchors that Impede Your Strategic Initiative

Mental anchors are reference points that people use in decision making. As an example, people tend to be loss avoiders when making decisions because they are anchoring to the things they already have. Anchoring to the past or present allows … Continue reading

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Six Strategic Thinking Skills: Developing the Proactiveness Habit

Few argue that culture is a key factor in the execution of strategy. Culture has many definitions, and one way to understand it is that it is a set of thousands of individual habitual responses. They are also collective, and … Continue reading

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Agile Thinking, Habits, and Strategic Initiative Leadership: Transcending the Buzz for Useful Insights

This article is a critique of, “agile thinking,” with examples provided for a strategic initiative at Corning: Agile Business Innovation.

In present use, agile thinking means to embrace the “agile values” declared by agile software evangelists, those values being things like flexibility, speed, customer responsiveness, change, and good engineering. Greg Githens explains that by recognizing that agilists are talking about values, we can then turn our attention to the appropriateness of the values to the situation. We can design an approach that best maximizes our chances of success. The core challenge for agilists is that they are saying that their values might be better than there audience’s values. They want to change habits, but often lose sight of whether changing habits is good for the business.

As a cognitive process, there are no practical differences between agile thinking and creative thinking. The article concludes by suggesting five questions for looking at habits.

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Posted in Examples of Strategic Initiatives, Strategy, Ambiguity, and Strong-Minded Thinking, Transforming the Organization | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Strategic Leadership is “Replacing Old Stories with New Stories”

Leaders should see strategy as a narrative arc from the founding to the present launch of a strategic initiative. The techniques of corporate time lines and identifying turning points help with the analysis. Then, future cast for a new vision with these questions:What present problems and opportunities are relevant to our future? What are the scenarios of the future? Where (and over whom) will we find advantage? What are the insights? A current strategic initiative could be seen as an episode of an organization’s history, with a turning point. Continue reading

Posted in How to Improve Your Story Telling Chops, Transforming the Organization, Useful Practices & Management Tools | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Use Small Wins to Attract Allies To Your Strategic Initiative (and Overcome Shabby Thinking)

Organizations often use strategic initiatives as a tool for improving operations. The success rate for these process-improvement initiatives is about 1 in 3. I find it best to think of tool and process deployment as a social process of adopting an innovation. The bottoms-up approach of small wins is a useful alternative to autocratic approaches. A small win, defined by Karl Weick, is a “series of concrete, complete outcomes of moderate importance that build a pattern that attracts allies and deters opponents.” An example is provided, with the leadership lessons of defining benefits, being authentic, generating trust, and encouraging experimentation.

The word “opponent” is a bit of an overstatement for most internal change efforts.The opponent is often not a person, it is a ill-defined ideology. Recommendations: Base your conclusions on good evidence, not gut feelings. Don’t let half-truths go unchallenged; over time they become accepted truth. Continue reading

Posted in Strategy, Ambiguity, and Strong-Minded Thinking, Success Principles for Strategic Initiatives, Transforming the Organization, Useful Practices & Management Tools | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The “Call to Action:” A Useful Leadership Tool

A strategic initiative is a rejection of the status quo and with a movement towards a new vision. A call to action is a request to the audience that describes specific actions and the rationale for taking those actions. A well-constructed call to action helps people grasp a vision, contrast it with the status quo, and make a choice about their response.You will always get better support for a strategic initiative if the call for action is presented as a choice, and not a commandment. The article references several practical tools,and addresses the issue of the refusal of a call to action. Continue reading

Posted in How to Improve Your Story Telling Chops, Transforming the Organization, Useful Practices & Management Tools | Tagged , , | 2 Comments