Are you doubling your business growth by leveraging focused strategy execution interventions?
“It’s not what you do. It’s how fast you can change what you do.” Jeff Lomey.
Eighty eight percent of top executives in the Fortune 1000 companies say that “strategy execution will become more important in the future.” The executive summary (page three of sixteen) in this brilliant research article why strategy fails gives some nasty statistics which you may want to be aware of.
I started working at the age of fourteen. Earning tips packing groceries. Taking them to the customer’s car. That will teach you about executing strategy. One day someone at the bread counter didn’t come to work. I was told to do their job which I did. Then someone at the deli didn’t come to work. I was told to do their job which I did. Then the cigarette counter, packing shelves, doing stocktake, and so it went until a cashier was AWOL. The money job, finally. I had by the age of 18 experienced every job in the store. Including store manager. I learned three very important lessons.
- We behave according the work processes and structures we are in.
- We need to change or modify those systems if we wish to behaviour to change.
- As much as individual skills and attitude are important, they are just not enough.
Don’t get too upset about being a hamster or a leader of hamsters, it’s just a metaphor that follows. At work we are like hamsters on a wheel in a cage. The cage is the factory, the wheel is the work process. The hamster is us. It has an attitude to run, or not, and level of fitness and skill, or not. If we want the hamsters to produce more, there is a point where running faster just won’t do it. We have to change the wheel. This is the Strategy-in–Action© challenge. To keep on running, to keep the wheel rolling and at the same time change the wheel.
Leaders design the wheels and put them in place. We choose the hamsters, train them and put them in the cages. Obvious is it not? We know getting it right is critical to winning and getting shareholder returns. But then it all changes. Often. Disruptive technology, crashing markets, skills shortages. So we are forced to survive and compete. Adapt or die. Just when we were winning. WTF. That’s why Leadership-in-action© is becoming so much more important.
Perhaps it is because I am an engineer or because I am a behavioural scientist. Perhaps it is the combination. I am fascinated by organisations striving to disrupt their markets, out-manoeuvre the competition and make more money. So I found some amazing research on what sets top CEO’s apart?
So what is my experience? Sixty six thousand employees transitioning from a vertical technical hierarchy into fifty two business units each with their own set of books. Five thousand employees transitioning from an integrated function within one company to a technical and financial ring fenced entity. Three thousand employees transitioning from legacy system manual claims processing to automated technology enabled structure. Bright young entrepreneurs founding their start-ups. I have been there and done that, for over thirty years.
Successful transition is not just about managing people through change. That alone is not nearly enough. It’s about the getting right future hamsters on the right future wheel, running together. It’s about unlocking the true income earning potential in your business. We call that strategy execution. It is both a science and an art.
Future articles will focus on the return on investment using a strategy execution framework, the seven leadership levers for driving strategy, strategic leader behaviour and why top companies get better financial results from executing their strategies effectively.
Be a leader. Be the hamster driver. Not the hamster. Or better still. Get out of the cage! I invite you to join me on this journey.
By Jeff Lomey [B.Sc. Elec. Eng. (Wits); MA. Applied Behavioral Sc. (City U; USA)].
Executive Director of Jeff Lomey Associates, specialists in strategy execution.