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Engaged leader – what is inside you?

Title: Engaged leader – what is inside you?

There is a clear cause effect relationship between how engaged the employees are and the profit a company makes. A study by Hewitt Associates shows that those companies with an engaged workforce (where more than 65% of employees consider themselves as engaged) are doing better than the stock market even at times of crisis. The companies where people feel engaged also record a higher customer satisfaction, increased productivity, lower turnover and lower sick leave rate.

The reasons for engagement or lack of engagement cannot be found in the budgets, but are found in the way the management of the companies think. Research shows that the way the management think and behave are affecting how employees conduct their job. When a manager shows interest in employees and helps in creating a work environment characterized by security and predictability, the employees experience a high degree of motivation and engagement and do their utmost to perform.

There are probably many ways to inspire and get people engaged, but I will mention some of which I think is important.

  1. The best way to engage people is to be engaged yourself - Find out what inspires you as a leader and make sure that you keep yourself engaged.
  2. Have high expectations - Inspire and challenge people to do their best without thwarting all their inspiration due to too many high expectations.
  3. Focus on the positive - Employees know if you really care about your job and whether your company is doing well or not. Real engaged leaders cannot stay away from speaking about things that are going well.
  4. Do not ignore the negative Engaged leaders are not only concerned about the good days, but they also have a realistic view about the negative that happens and tries to find out how to solve it.

Good luck with finding your inspiration!

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Source: http://blog.corporater.com

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

How do we debate strategy?

Title: How do we debate strategy?

According to recent studies, many companies are not realizing their full potential. Indications are that 40-60% of a company's strategic potential is not realized. There are probably many reasons for this, but today I would like to focus on one factor that I think is valuable.

This summer I hired a brand new Camaro. My friend was very impressed with the all the sensors the car had. Whenever I reversed, I could see where I went in a camera in the mirror. I could hear sounds indicating how close I was to the objects and I could see lines stipulating where I was heading. So based on all these sensors and a very good GPS we had a wonderful time in the US and made our way around. This made me think.

Do corporations have "sensors"? That tells them where to steer and maneuver in this fast changing business world? I was thinking back on conversations that I have had with people over the years. People telling me "I knew this would happen", "we all knew", "we tried to warn about this", "this was market knowledge that we had but the management did not act upon it".

There are people in your organization who are these "strategic sensors". They are all over the company and have valuable knowledge - knowledge about customers' needs, market development, drivers, and competition etc. – factors that are crucial for their company's future development. Make sure that you find your company's "strategic sensors". They might be disabled by managers who filter information on its way to the top.

Make sure that you engage most of the strategic sensors your company have. Of course there will be a lot of sensors giving wrong indications, but can you afford not checking them out?

In order to enable the sensors to function, you need to create a culture for sharing new ideas, forwarding new hypothesis, and also create arenas to share and establish a common language on how to debate on strategy.

Probably you should send your employees to the Strategy Debate University where the strategic sensors come to life?! Or maybe you could create this internally in your own organization?

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Source: http://blog.corporater.com

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

Man of words or man of actions? - Just do it!

Title: Man of words or man of actions? - Just do it!

 

The power of execution is one of the qualities that I appreciate most in my employees. As it is in most companies, you have a mixture of "talkers" and "doers". Just think of the value creation your company could have if you could switch the "talkers" to "doers".

What can help us facilitate this "conversion" process? Can the balanced scorecard framework help being more targeted towards execution? I believe so.

Putting people responsible for strategic objectives, strategic themes, kpi's, and initiatives will drive people to take more responsibility and enter the execution mode. In addition to making people responsible you should aim for transparency, and conduct regular meetings to report status. This will also have wonderful effects and move people from "talkers" to "doers".

But I have one question to the balanced scorecard community. The balanced scorecard is a good model that explains how the business is built up through the 4 perspectives. On average, a regular balanced scorecard consists of approximately 4 perspectives, 10 objectives, 25 kpi's, and 50 initiatives per organizational unit. My question is: Is the balanced scorecard focusing too widely? Is an organization able to focus its energy on 89 things at once (4 perspectives, 10 objectives, 25 kpi's, and 50 initiatives)?. Are we losing our focus when everything becomes equally important? What about "highlighting" special target areas in the balanced scorecard and focusing on changing only this part?

I am reading a book now which contains a framework for focusing a company's energy towards a selected set of objectives and kpi's. The framework is called 4DX — Four Diciplines of Execution and it looks promising so far. Here they put all the energy on a selected part of the strategy map/ balanced scorecard model. Could this model be merged with the balanced scorecard to get more effect for businesses?

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Source: http://blog.corporater.com

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

What a difference words can do!

Title: What a difference words can do!

In my young days I worked for a big fortune 250 company. As the financial controller working in the shared services department, I had an experience which, I will never forget. All the managers (40 in total) were gathered for an extended management meeting and as a young controller I watched the Vice President speak to the managers.

He started his speech with good words. As we were in the corporate shared service center of a company of 20000 employees we were often regarded as "cost center" and "overhead". We were not a part of the core business. But that day the Vice President "raised us up" and gave us value and new energy.

He started by saying "you are the oil in the machinery" and "without your services our company could never operate". "You are valuable and the work you do is very valuable for the company".

Then he started telling some challenging things to us like the overall cost in the company was too high, and that this was discussed in the last management meeting with the CEO and all the VP's. The Group had to cut cost of about USD 100 million... and he continued with his magical words that transformed all of us:

"I am so proud of representing the shared services division, and I know what capacity is there in you. And I believe so much in you. So in the top management meeting I "jumped up" and said "I believe so much in my shared services division – we will take half of the cost cut".

Normally this would have made people angry. I have never met people that are comfortable with cutting costs. But the VP’s speech changed it all. He gave us value and he believed in us. The result was outstanding. In less than one week we had a plan for the cost cut and we managed to keep our new budgets.

May be business schools should have more psychology in the subjects they teach. It is all about humans - Winning the hearts and minds of the people.

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Source: http://blog.corporater.com

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

Target Dictatorship

Title: Target Dictatorship

I have seen many different ways in which organizations go about Target setting. One company I visited had a target of implementing the Balanced Scorecard within two weeks of the announcement. They got just two weeks of notice - and the CEO expected this to happen? I advised them to go back to the CEO and tell him that this is not doable, but they refused. "A target which is dictated has to be delivered".

I am just thinking about the end result of fulfilling this target. This company had no clear strategy, no processes up front, no resources to do the job and no commitment from the management. Clearly, it will fail and they all know that. But why did they not dare to say this to the CEO?

It is better to be defiant and to speak up to the CEO if the targets set are unreasonable, than to fulfill them just for the sake of meeting deadlines without achieving any real benefits for the organization. So dare to speak up and tell him about the time and effort involved in the proper implementation of something as important as the Balanced Scorecard.

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

Rythm of business

 

Title: Rythm of business

I don't know what type of business you are in but from a Strategy Execution methodology perspective, it matters. When I readmanagement literature I find good generic models for forming and executing strategy. And, they all apply the same way for every type of businesses. Whether you are a convenient store or you are a software company.

We all know that the speed of business and the speed of change have affected many businesses dramatically. Markets, products, inventions are continuously changing for most businesses at a rapid pace. For some others, the markets, products and inventions are changing at a slower speed. I call this phenomenon, “The rhythm of business”. Today, I have a simple question to the management thinkers. When are we going to have strategy formation and strategy execution models that take into account “The rhythm of business”? Right now, some businesses are dancing to a slow reggae while others are dancing to speed metal!

I know my business (software) is dancing to speed metal.

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

The Business Guillotine - Only brave people can set ambitious targets

 

Title: The Business Guillotine - Only brave people can set ambitious targets 

How is it in your company? Are your heads chopped off if you set ambitious targets and don’t reach them?  If your company’s performance culture is characterized by "head chopping," you will most likely have experienced how people do not take the trouble of establishing demanding targets.

Brave people should be applauded and recognized for their efforts aiming at far better results. One brave man in this category that I often think of is the former President John F. Kennedy. In the 60’s he set an unthinkable target for the United States of America. "Within this decade we will send a man to the moon and return him safely". This was one of mankind’s greatest achievements, and it was the result of a man’s courage to set ambitious targets. 

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

Live strong - living up to the strategy

 

Title: Live strong - living up to the strategy

Are your employees living up to the strategy of the company? If not - they are not alone. Only 5% of employees understand the company's strategy and hence,  they are not able to live up to the strategy.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Why are the key employees and the most skilled people not actively involved in shaping the strategy and why are they not empowered to implement the strategy? I believe this is because we don't focus on it or have good processes  in place.

I think there are some issues that companies need to overcome in order to get their employees more involved -

- Create a common language of Strategy between the management and the workforce

- Establish processes and meeting opportunities for strategy discussions

- Appreciate workers' involvement.Let them challenge you as a manager and let them "pull the strategy" (instead of you trying to push the strategy on them)

- Recognise their inputs

In short, if you want your employees to "live up to  the strategy", most of you will have to change the way you work on these issues today.

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

Plans cast in stone

 

Title: Plans cast in stone

When is your budget outdated? The day you write it. I have worked with creating budgets in large corporations and was amazed that we still adhered to the old way of allocating resources. Luckily there are individuals and companies  that have examined this under a magnifying glass and have changed the way they allocate resources.

I am proud to announce that my previous employer (Statoil) had a board decision to remove the budgets, and to implement event-driven resource allocation, target-setting, and prognosis updates. It is the business events that occurs externally that control our business environment-- not us setting the major routes for our businesses.

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

What words are you using in your strategy plan?

 

Title: What words are you using in your strategy plan?

I read a lot of strategy documents and most of them are written using common language. Words like the best, outstanding, leading, world class, and international have different meaning to different people. Consider a word like international. We shall be an international software company. Does international mean having representation in ALL countries in the world?  Or just more than one country? What if there was representation in all countries in the world except Greenland? Are you still regarded as an international company?

In public sector they also use some specific words that you can find in most plans. Words like make ensure, assist, help, bring, identify, encourage, and support are often used to describe something you want to achieve. I would like to use an example from a Norwegian government strategy plan. One goal/objective is, “make sure that the Norwegian film industry becomes a success”.

If you have such vague words in your plan you need to challenge the people that wrote the “political jargon” and state how do we make sure that the Norwegian film industry becomes a success?  What do we have to do to and succeed with to be regarded as a successful film industry? This challenges us to define WHAT we must do.

So if you are working in with people using words like these, start defining the words – what they mean – and what you have to do in order to become successful.

When I work with government sector clients, I have started to challenge them about the meaning of their political words. And the results are a living, actionable, and specific scorecard that defines the success criteria of such political jargon.

Good luck with cracking and de-coding the political jargon!

Author : Tor Inge Vasshus

Explore our resources to learn more about techniques and the value of effectively communicating and executing your strategy.

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