There are many mistakes organizations, teams, and individuals can make when it comes time to create a plan; too many goals, wrong goals, not
enough data, wrong people at the table to create the plan. In addition, all plans - whether they are strategic, project, succession, organizational
development, or personal career and/or development plans - are subject to the possible fate of being created then quickly shelved, abandoned, or simply mucked up.
Several recent and insightful articles provide guidance on how to develop the strategic skills or competencies to create a plan. Along with these is an article I wrote in my last newsletter: 5 Tips for Creating an Executable Strategic Plan that draws heavily from The 4 Disciplines of Execution from Stephen Covey (R.I.P.). Here are synopses of three thought-provoking articles on Strategy, Planning, and Leadership
1. From Harvard we get new research questioning how“Strategy” has become separated from “Leadership”. In this article, “Are You a Strategist?” by Cynthia Montgomery she describes how strategy has moved away from the work of leadership, and an organization’s larger sense of purpose, to an analytical and formulaic exercise. “Strategy has become more about formulation than implementation, and more about getting the analysis right at the outset than living with a strategy over time," Montgomery says. "As a consequence, it has less to do with leadership than ever before."
Key Takeaways: For a leader, becoming a strategist starts with getting clear on why, whether, and to whom your company matters. An organization’s continued existence depends on constantly finding a compelling reason for it to exist. “Shepherding this never-ending process, being the steward of a living strategy, is the defining responsibility of a leader.” Montgomery’s goal is to embolden top leaders to embrace the role of strategist and develop their strategy skills. However, she also points out that it's important for employees at all levels of an organization to start thinking like strategists and begin now to build those strategy muscles.
2. McKinsey & Co in their Quarterly publication has an article, Managing the Strategy Journey, that suggests the senior leadership team (I’d add the Board for a nonprofit) must do several big things when undertaking the strategy development journey. The starting point of the journey is for the leadership team to increase the time they spend together discussing strategy to at least match the time they spend together on
operating issues. (Nonprofit Boards and Leaders are you listening?)
“Strategy is about the actions you take. Therefore, one of the highest priorities of a top-management strategy forum is to ensure disciplined implementation of key strategic initiatives. A big advantage of the journey approach is that the process of debating and deciding on changes in strategic direction helps top-management teams (again, I’d add Boards) get behind the new direction, particularly if the CEO holds the entire team collectively accountable for accomplishing it.” Look here for Mckinsey’s exhibit of a process to move from strategic ideas to operating realities.
The article also points out the importance of linking strategy to budgeting and forecasting, “the key is to take a disciplined approach to converting strategies into actions that can be incorporated in financial plans and operating budgets. One important capability that companies must develop to do this well is rolling forecasting and budgeting, so that needed investments can be made in a timely manner rather than waiting for the next annual planning cycle.”
3. And finally, a great article from Inc. describes the 6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers. Adaptive strategic leaders - the kind who thrive in today's uncertain environment - do six things well:
2. Think Critically and Question Everything
3. Interpret (seek patterns, test multiple hypothesis)
4. Decide (Balance speed, rigor, quality, and agility. Take a stand even
with incomplete information and amid diverse views.)
5. Align (Foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders,
especially when views diverge)
6. Learn (seek honest feedback, conduct rigorous debriefs)
In the last year I have had more requests than ever before to spend time with nonprofit boards on governance issues. Most frequently I have been asked to help educate Board members on their roles and responsibilities and
to assess their performance and effectiveness.
The presentation I use for Board Education begins with some attention getting items ripped from the headlines about a Board's failure to effectively govern and steward the organization. Today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette has an article that will surely make it into every future Nonprofit Consultant's Governance presentation.
Earlier this week I attended a luncheon workshop "Effective Negotiation Strategies for Women in Business" presented by MJ Tocci. In addition to being a great and entertaining presenter, MJ is also Director and Co-founder of the Heinz Negotiation Acadamy for Women at CMU. (www.progress.heinz.cmu.edu).
Early in my career, I was a Director at the Career Center at what is now the Tepper School of Business at CMU. Where, even back then, I observed how rarely women negotiated their job offers and starting salaries and men always did. After that I joined PNC Bank as an Executive Recruiter and then went on to head up their Corporate Staffing function. Again, I was amazed at how few women actually negotiated their salaries and almost every man I recruited did. Sadly, even with this knowledge, I continue to avoid and dread negotiating. MJ assures me that if I sign up for the academy I will leave the program with an astounding comfort and enthusiasm for negotiations in your life. And I think that i believe her!
During MJ's presentation she outlined a number of sad facts about how women who negotiate are perceIved far more harshly than men who do the exact same thing. And this perception comes from men AND OTHER WOMEN. She made an appeal for women to support each other in their efforts and closed with this quote from MadelEine Albright:
"There is a special place in hell
reserved for women who don’t help other women”
Last week I facilitated several workshops on COPING WITH STRESS & CHANGE IN THE WORKPLACE and turned to one of the most stressed out organizations around for current best practices. The US Military has a wealth of resources on dealing with stress. At the top of the list? Relaxation and meditation techniques.
Check out these resources to beat and control stress. Stress Control Techniques from the US Military hprc-online.org
In “The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice,” a new report published in the Journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, the coauthors declare. "There is a science of training that shows that there is a right way and a wrong way to design, deliver, and implement a training program.”
The Association for Psychological Science has a great summary and explanation of the new report on the science of training. Learning on the Job: Myth vs Science psychologicalscience.org