Category Archives: Useful Practices & Management Tools

Practical idea that will help you lead a strategic initiative team.

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

Three Tips for Leading Strategic Alliances

Strategic alliances are a growing subset of strategic initiatives. A Strategic Alliance is a relationship between two or more parties where they collaborate to capture an opportunity or extend their reach into complementary areas. Author and consultant Greg Githens has participated in many strategic alliances, both as a leader and as a consultant and offers three tips that will increase the probability of success. Tip #1 – Meet in Person, Frequently. Tip #2 – Find and Articulate Strategic Insights. Tip #3 – Explicitly discuss risks, risk tolerances and risk response strategies. Continue reading

Posted in Program & Portfolio Management, Success Principles for Strategic Initiatives, Useful Practices & Management Tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Ask About Deadlines and Due Dates

Don’t ask about dead lines, instead the strategic initiative leader should probe for timing expectations and the sense of urgency held by his/her stakeholders. Continue reading

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Launching a Strategic Initiative? Here are Three Good Practices

Observations of a new product development kickoff strategic initiative. Cultural challenges make the natural ambiguity of strategy even more difficult. Three good practices are 1. travel the world and get in front of stakeholders, 2. Identify key contributors and help them step up, 3. Initial milestones are guidelines; not millstones around your neck. Continue reading

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The Business Value Proposition

Leaders of strategic initiatives need to have a working knowledge of the various perspectives on value propositions because organizations often charter strategic initiatives to close the gap (or create advantage) on value propositions. Using Best Buy’s Renew Blue strategic initiative, Greg Githens describes the business canvas approach and VALiD approaches to understanding value propositions. Continue reading

Posted in Examples of Strategic Initiatives, Interpreting Strategy Documents, Success Principles for Strategic Initiatives, Useful Practices & Management Tools | Tagged , , , , | 4 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 , , , , , , | 5 Comments

S.T.I.C.C. – A Useful Communication Tool for Critical Situations

Situation, Task, Intent, Concerns, Calibrate (STICC) is a useful communication template for situations where time pressures and mistakes can lead to grave consequences. The article uses an example of prioritizing a set of strategic projects, considering each piece of the STICC message. Continue reading

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The “20%-of-Your-Time” Rule-of-Thumb

Gaining the commitment of the right resources is arguably the greatest success factor for strategic initiatives. I inevitably hear people on the strategic initiative team verbalize this pattern: “This performance gap is huge and needs to be addressed. I am happy to be part of the solution. But where am I going to find time to participate?” When resourcing of a strategic initiative, follow this rule, “Each key player in the strategic initiative must devote at least 20% of their time to the initiative.” The article also includes a list of five challenges for resourcing a strategic initiative: Ambiguity about purpose, Novelty, Run-the-business work consumes time, Corporate-level budgeting & talent management processes don’t plan with enough granularity, Burn-out and balance of personal life with work life. Continue reading

Posted in Strategic Planning Issues for Strategic Initiatives, Success Principles for Strategic Initiatives, Useful Practices & Management Tools | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

That’s the Fact, Jack: Data Drive Strategic Initiatives

A strategic initiative is more likely to be successful if there is an accessible record of facts, data, and patterns. Domino’s Pizza and Google are discussed as two good examples where data support a valid, useful diagnosis and narrative for the strategic initiative. By contrast, a failed initiative at Cooper Tire failed to convince middle managers. Because stakeholders often don’t agree on strategic direction, the leader can use tools like the ladder of inference and White Hat thinking to get facts and connect them to strategy. Continue reading

Posted in Competencies of Strategic Initiative Leaders, Strategic Planning Issues for Strategic Initiatives, Strategy Coaching and Facilitation, Success Principles for Strategic Initiatives, Useful Practices & Management Tools | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A Simple Idea that Every Good Strategist Knows

Strategy is a series of conversations about important business issues culminating in the commitment to act. The trick to implementation success is to use conversations as a tool for gaining agreement on problems and solutions and to make commitments to each other. Strategy implementation depends upon its socialization by stakeholders. A good strategy is the right actions on the right things. Continue reading

Posted in Competencies of Strategic Initiative Leaders, Strategic Planning Issues for Strategic Initiatives, Useful Practices & Management Tools | Tagged , | 12 Comments