Beware the Myths About Strategy
Is it possible … there are things you don’t even know you don’t know about setting strategy? Without even realizing it, have you succumbed to some of the myths that surround this most important leadership discipline?
The tricky thing, according to Harvard Business Review in their article entitled 5 Myths About Strategy, is that myths can be very subtle and alluring because they are usually based on a plausible half-truth. You will recognize all five of the myths they present and be fascinated by the arguments on why each one is plausible and why it is wrong.
It’s good to shake up your thinking and challenge your paradigms on a regular basis. A look at these five myths will do just that.
To read the full article go to https://hbr.org/2019/04/5-myths-about-strategy
How to Succeed as the Leader of Leaders
What are the mindsets and practices of excellent CEOs?
That is the question posed by McKinsey & Company, and I’m sure you will be most interested in the answers they have come up with.
To explore this question, McKinsey mined their extensive proprietary database on CEO performance, which includes 25 years’ worth of data on 7,800 CEOs from 3,500 public companies across 70 countries and 24 industries.
Based on this research, they were able to determine the 6 main elements of the CEO’s job, and the mindset with which each of these elements should be approached. They include:
- Corporate strategy – focus on beating the odds
- Organizational alignment – manage performance and health
- Team and processes – put dynamics ahead of mechanics
- Board engagement – help directors help the business
- External stakeholders center on the long-term Why?
- Personal working norms – do only what you can do
They go on to provide the 18 specific practices CEOs should adhere to when fulfilling those responsibilities that are unique to their position in the organization.
As an example, the practices under Corporate Strategy fall into three categories:
Vision: Reframe what winning means
Strategy: Make bold moves early and
Resource allocation: Stay active.
As if all of this outstanding information wasn’t enough, the article concludes with a comprehensive framework, using the 6 elements and 18 practices, to allow CEOs and Boards to gauge performance and prioritize improvement.
This is truly a goldmine for CEOs in any industry or type of organization, and I hope you will take the time to read and reflect on everything that is offered here.
To read the full article, you can go to https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-mindsets-and-practices-of-excellent-ceos
Why We Forget Most of What We Learn
Are you spending a lot of money on training and development at your organization, but constantly feeling you just aren’t getting the bang for your buck you hoped for? Do you look for evidence of new learning, but find very little seems to be retained and applied?
This is an age-old problem, and you will undoubtedly be interested in the new approach offered in Harvard’s recent article entitled Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development. To begin with, they note that the measure of learning and development should be on the business impact created, not boxes ticked or credits gained for promotion. As they write, flawed incentives beget flawed outcomes – such as learning at the wrong time, learning the wrong things and quickly forgetting what has been learned.
The approach Harvard is presenting is Lean Learning and, while you will have your own views on the lean principles that have been popular in the past, there is a lot of merit to the concepts here.
Lean learning is about:
- Learning the core of what you need to learn
- Applying it to the real-world situations immediately
- Receiving immediate feedback and refining your understanding
- Repeating the cycle
There is a lot of specific and useful advice given for applying lean learning. This relatively short article can help put you on the path to meaningful and sustainable learning and development in your own organization. Finally.
To read the full article, you can go to https://hbr.org/2019/10/where-companies-go-wrong-with-learning-and-development
Taking an Organizational View of Time Management
Have you come to the realization that ineffective time management is not just an outdated concept for individual employees, but instead a very real barrier to achieving your organization’s strategic priorities? Are you ready to hear what the latest research on this age-old problem has to offer?
A recent article from McKinsey, entitled Making Time Management the Organization’s Priority, could be a game changer for your leadership team. They begin with compelling statistics from their recent global study, which boil down to the fact almost 50 percent of executives are saying they are not spending enough time on strategic priorities.
So, what new solutions can be offered? Here are McKinsey’s suggestions:
- Have a time leadership budget – and a proper process for allocating it
- Think about time when you introduce organizational change
- Ensure that individuals routinely measure and manage their time
- Refine the master calendar
- Provide high-quality administrative support
There are some very compelling arguments here for making time management an organizational priority, and some very thoughtful remedies put forward. It is time to get time management back on your side!
To read the full article, you can go to https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/making-time-management-the-organizations-priority
Using Symbolic Actions to Signal Changing Expectations
Are you grappling with the mammoth task of cultural transformation in your organization? Or are you looking at smaller scale changes, but still not feeling you have found just the right approach?
As you capture the last few days of summer, we thought it might be fun to look at tackling this heavy subject with something on the lighter side. In their Leadership & Organization Blog, McKinsey & Company recently had a post entitled Elephant in the room: making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions. As you might imagine, they describe the successful use of toy elephants by a leadership team to help employees get comfortable with the candid conversations they felt would be necessary to bring about change.
There is a widely held view, and it is reiterated here, that the leaders within an organization should choose a few symbolic actions to signal that cultural expectations are changing. Putting a rubber elephant on the table is that kind of symbolic action – it lets people know that the difficult topic at hand will be tackled, not left unaddressed.
As you consider the use of symbolic actions in your own organization, McKinsey offers three simple steps for you to follow:
- Define the purpose of and audience for potential symbolic actions.
- Brainstorm symbolic actions,
- Review and prioritize ideas.
This article is fun to read, but it also makes some very valuable points. It might be just what you need to get an elephant or two off your boardroom table.
To read the full article, you can go to https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-organization-blog/elephant-in-the-room-making-a-culture-transformation-stick-with-symbolic-actions
Taking the Art of Persuasion to a Higher Level
How often would you say you reflect on your effectiveness as a leader or salesperson or boss? When you do, do you find yourself feeling you could achieve much more if you could just reach people at a deeper level?
If you think about it, things that are truly timeless and last through the ages, probably do so for a reason. The art of persuasion is one of those things. Going all the way back to the time of Aristotle, and that’s more than 2,000 years ago, we find that he created a formula for mastering the art of persuasion in his work entitled Rhetoric. Persuasion and influence continue to be studied to this day and, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled The Art of Persuasion Hasn’t Changed in 2,000 Years, some economists believe that persuasion is responsible for generating one-quarter or more of America’s national income.
So, what was Aristotle’s formula for mastering persuasion? It is presented in the following five rhetorical devices:
- Ethos or Character – allow your audience to gain insight into your credibility
- Logos or Reason – make a logical appeal to reason, show why they should care about your idea
- Pathos or Emotion – move people to action through emotions
- Metaphor – clarify your idea by bringing in something familiar
- Brevity – there are limits to what people can absorb, so start with your strongest point!
I highly recommend this article … and don’t think it should take too much persuading to get you to read it.
To read the full article, you can go to https://hbr.org/2019/07/the-art-of-persuasion-hasnt-changed-in-2000-years