Where are all the entrepreneurs?

One word I hear continually emerging in the way companies describe desired employee behavioral competencies is “entrepreneurial.” It’s clear, you need people who have as much interest in growing the business as the owner does. If I understand what they’re really describing, it’s a person with an blazing internal drive to find and capitalize on business and growth opportunities. People who act like they care about the company and are excited to make things happen.

I’m sure some industries attract more of the type of person who displays these behaviors than others, but what % of the population actually has the potential to fulfill this role for your company? What drives the risk-taking, aggressive, successful activities that your company has come to value? What makes a person behave in this way?

Think about those behaviours and then think about what kind of environment you would need to foster that behavior. Think about what you really want to see and describe the environment that would encourage this. Even if these behaviors can’t be grown (depending on your school of thought) they can at least be developed and encouraged. Even ff they are innate, you can at least draw them out and develop them.

Now, think about your corporate environment. No, not from your experience in the C-suite. Think about the power structure, the kinds of managers you have, the level of empowerment you provide your lowest employees. Think about the staff satisfaction levels you have. How quickly are employees allowed to advance? What is the average age of your employee? Do the managers horde the budget and shell out peanuts to the producers?

How easy is it for someone to be excited about your business. Why should they be excited? Do you offer them some kind of stake in that success? Do people that excel see a path to the top? Do people have to put in 20 years before they see a promotion or some movement? Do you believe in your people enough to develop them and help them grow? Do the resources allocated to growth and development match the need?

Long-term, your greater issue is not where to hire an entrepreneur from, but how you’re going to create an environment where those behaviors develop and flourish. People aren’t 100% entrepreneurial or 0% entrepreneurial. I believe each of us is on a sliding scale on any given day. The focus should be on drawing these kinds of behaviors out and giving people something to be excited about.

Create an environment where all of your employees naturally begin to exhibit these behaviors and you’ll not only see people demonstrating the right behavior, but you’ll be able to keep them.

P.S. The answer to the question in the title: They’re all around you.

Priorities of implementation

Implementation is a big topic. I’ll likely come back to it several times. I wanted to drop a few additional comments on the topic while I was thinking about them again this week.

What are some of the most critical priorities while implementing a strategy?

1) Translate strategy to action

Strategy is only effective when you use it. Operational planning is used as a response to board planning. It is a process of:
– Evaluating how tyour company will translate board direction into action
– Involving the employees in the development of how to implement the direction

The end result must answer the following:
– What are we going to do?
– How are we going to do it?
– What are the tactics to make it happen?
– Who is going to lead it?
– When are we targeting completion by?

2) Maintain the focus on the strategy

The strategy is the business. Everything we do must be based on the strategy.

Focus is maintained by integrating discussions into the regular processes of the company:
– Team meetings
– Management meetings
– Board meetings
– Reporting

3) Make strategy everyone’s job through the creation of accountability

– Involve the team in the development of the action plans – harness their creativity
– Expose the entire team to the entire strategy
– Involve the team as leads and in support teams for the priorities

4) Report on activity that you want to maintain the focus and discussion on

– In order to maintain a clear understanding of the direction, you should report on the scorecard regularly (quarterly) to both board and staff.
– This should support building an understanding of where the company is moving toward, how you’re going to get there, and your progress in making that happen.
– Report on what you want your discussions to be: Strategic related issues. (measures, progress against each priority)

Take the implementation of the plan at least as seriously as you do the development. The secret is making implementation of the strategy the job of the people that work at your organization. If it’s not integrated, it’s ignored.

Is implementing strategy one of your core competencies?

The value of your strategic direction is only as good as the understanding your people have of it. The value of their actions are only as good as their relevance to the strategic plan.

What percentage of companies have a plan? How good are the plans that most companies develop? Does the quality of the plan matter when most companies don’t execute them anyway? In fact, 9 out of 10 companies fail to execute their strategy.

This following is an excerpt from the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative’s information base:

Vision Barrier – only 5% of workforce understand the strategy

People Barrier – only 25% of managers have personal objectives and incentives linked to strategy

Management Barrier – 85% of executive team spend less than one hour/month discussing strategy

Resource Barrier – 60% of organizations don’t link budgets to strategy

How effectively does your organization implement the strategy? Ask yourself the following diagnosis questions:

1) Go to 5 employees at the hierarchically lowest scale of your company and ask them how their position contributes to the strategy of the company. Ask them to describe the direction of the company.
2) Find another few employees in the middle of the company and ask them how the company is performing against the plan and what reporting mechanisms are in place to allow the company to asses it’s performance and course-correct.
3) Ask a few C level staff to describe the company vision, mission and how their divisions plan to contribute in the 1-3 year term.

Responsibility for communication rests with the leadership positions. You can only create alignment and momentum when your resources understand the direction and are positioned to support it.

Are you a 1/10 company or a 9/10 company?