- The Call to Action cannot rest in a vacuum. It needs a strategic architecture
- A set of Pillars is needed to support the Call
- It is crucial to effectively envision the success of each Pillar
Sound strategy starts with having the right goal.
– Michael Porter
Creating value for humanity should not be an afterthought but a core business strategy.
The Challenge – Meeting “The Call”
The business had grown slowly, steadily. The company faced financial headwinds and felt boxed in when opportunities presented themselves. They could see growth but struggled to find the right combination of people and product. They knew that they were moving forward but were having difficulties capitalizing on the opportunities because of structural problems.
As they pursued The Compelling Journey, they were able to take stock of themselves and create a very healthy “blue-sky” picture of what success looked like for them. They were able to effectively formulate their Call to Action. Identifying the barriers went slowly, but eventually, they were able to identify them and map out a series of diagnostic checks that they had at hand that they could follow.
The company was proud of its bench; there were several longtime team members that deserved bigger chances to contribute. It was relatively easy to identify them. It took longer to prioritize their readiness for new efforts and responsibilities. After all, one of the challenges that the senior team had identified was that they alone were carrying much of the burden of carrying the mission, vision, and values message throughout the company.
The Senior Team was settled on the Call to Action. It was clear, compelling, eminently challenging and in keeping with their approach to their business. What was necessary now was to find the means to connect that overarching Call to all facets of their operation, without bogging down into an overly wrought series of plans that became all tactics and no strategy. They needed an architecture that was clean, spare, and encompassed the entire enterprise.
When we work with an organization, we encourage our clients to think through a handful of “Pillars” that are strategies designed for the enterprise to utilize in support of the Call to Action. These four to six strategic pillars underpin the overarching call and help define areas of focus in order to become successful. Once these have been established, there are a host of items that need to be covered within and faithful to those pillars. Who among the Senior team will be champions of the pillars? For each, there needs to be someone who is fully committed to the fulfillment of a particular strategy although not necessarily the person who has functional responsibility of the outlined area. For example, if ensuring fiscal discipline is outlined as one of the pillars, the CFO, although intimately involved, does not automatically need to be the selected Champion as all members at this level, must grasp what is happening and accept accountability throughout the enterprise.
Each pillar requires contain a clear vision of what it looks like when that particular strategy has been completely fulfilled. These “vision statements” function best when they incorporate two or three short phrases that paint an effective picture of success and galvanize those working in the area to act on them. This effort must not be overlooked as it is fundamental in getting team members to look away from the “now” in which everyone works and toward the desired destination.
There is a little “secret sauce” that energizes these vision statements. It is important to craft an affirmation for each one that describes the vision fulfilled and the emotional content that accompanies its attainment. Creating an emotional connection to the envisioned outcome helps everyone focus on it more powerfully, driving innovation and solutions.
Once these have been crafted, a series of milestones need to be described so that those working on it will have a sense of progress and develop momentum and resiliency for the challenges ahead. Once again, none of these items addresses “how” the pillars are fulfilled, only “what needs to occur.” It is also very useful to assign timelines for their completion as these again will likely address and prioritize large chunks of what must be accomplished to respond to the Call. Some may not be currently ripe or even possible given the situation in which the leaders find themselves. Nevertheless, they need to be included in the formulation.
With the Pillars firmly in place, the Call now sits upon a solid footing for the organization to operate from in the creation of approaches to solutions. From here, it is necessary to define when and where to declare success and what recognition and rewards are needed.
Ready, Mindset, Grow!: Nuggets Mined from the Leadership Journeys
Business leadership books abound today. What makes this one worth the read? Actionable insights! Ready, Mindset, Grow, delivers to today’s leaders entertaining stories of the transformative power of culture. Backed by solid research, these brief tales, and the lessons they convey, can be put into practice for short-term wins and long-term growth. Entertaining and insightful, the author has filled the pages with cultural nuggets and jewels from his 30+ years of experience in leadership coaching and consulting. Smart leaders will appreciate the candor, catch glimpses into their own circumstances and gain the conviction needed to accomplish positive cultural change.