It’s Autumn in Australia, or “The Transition Season” as it’s commonly known. The title amused me as it’s nearly always transition season in business.
Are you and your team:
Transitioning from one strategy to another?
Promoting or hiring new staff?
Trying to ensure that the plans you agreed in the beginning of the year, are advancing effectively?
In my opinion, this all comes back to accountability. A plan is only effective if it’s implemented well. This requires accountability, defined by the following four elements:
When does this “thing” need to be done?
Who is taking ownership or “championing” the cause?
Transparency, what is the point of working towards a successful execution if no-one understands why or how “it’s” required in the first place?
What does success look like? An overused phrase but important, how do you know it you’ve implemented the “thing” successfully? Can you move on or will you forever be re-defining and improving the result?
Ensure that your team has the correct mix of big thinkers and detailed contributors. One or the other can result in imbalance and inefficiency.
Recently, I worked with a group of strategists who, because they live and breathe long term 2-5 year goals, feel extremely comfortable with discussing the result and purpose of their company. Let’s call them Big Thinkers International. I was invited to work with them to see why and how their processes were faltering but before agreeing, I asked to sit in on their management meeting. Sitting in was interesting due to robust conversations resulting in some mild raised voices. Sitting on the edge of a team like this, you can see the gaps.
The MD was keen to proceed on a new direction regarding the sale of their product as the recent figures had dropped. The financials were reviewed, the staff considered and the commitment to the strategy questioned. However, the quiet comment by a significant director, was fantastic in its simplicity…”What were the exact details behind the strategy, the plan, and who is accountable?”
It didn’t take long for all to understand that the details behind the process weren’t clear. No single person had reviewed all the steps and therefore a critical link in the communication to market had been missed.
The MD took over. It was her role to manage direction, ensure clarity around projects and ensure that the four elements of accountability were covered. The result was the same strategy with improved clarity around the detail. An overall less frustrated management team left the room with confidence. The staff appreciated the consistent process. We’re still waiting to hear if the project was successful or not, but it appears to be tracking well.
A great lesson for all; getting caught up in the long-term strategy of the business is just as challenging for the MD as for everyone else. It is tempting to change direction mid-course because someone comes up with a new solution. To do so spontaneously is risky but can be a wise decision if the causes and consequences are considered.