I recently posted up on the Execution Premium website to a colleague who had a question about how to change old behaviors within an organization:
We are in the middle of transforming our business and I was in your shoes about a year ago. The good news is that weâ€™re making a lot of progress. Some of the things which are really helping are 1) creating greater clarity and specificity in the direction of the organization 2) using that to lead greater integration between teams 3) engaging employees in a deeper way and 4) creating higher degrees of accountability (nowhere to hide from the change). All of this adds up to what really feels like momentum now.
To that end, we’ve gone back to the basics. Starting with a strategy map, commitment to a value discipline, creation of a set of customer experience principles based on the value discipline, and now we’re building a competency framework to attach. Knowing the outcomes the company is working to achieve, the form of value you exist to create, the exact attributes of the customer experience, the behaviors that need to be fostered really helps people get what you’re trying to do. It takes the focus off of the daily grind. A lot of leaders think they can get by without giving the definition its due diligence, but it always creates problems later further down in the organization. The problem is that most of us are used to working in organizations that don’t have this clarity, and reading about companies that do so it feels normal. All of the functional groups are very excited about the work, because there’s a much greater sense of momentum when there is clear strategy they can attach their work to. Itâ€™s a focal point for alignment.
This clarity of direction has started to solve a lot of problems within each of the teams as they work to align the organization to the long-term direction and the value discipline. What weâ€™ve discovered is that when youâ€™re not clear on your value discipline, decisions are being made across the organization that become barriers to your success. The business model attributes that support one arenâ€™t neutral to another, they actually resist the other two. Example: Accounting releases an allocation system that would work well to an operational excellence focused organization, but drives the wrong behaviors for a customer intimate organization.
Engaging employees in discussing two things has been very successful for us also. The first area is around identifying and understanding the business environment â€“ things that are supporting and resisting our success across all focus areas. The second is around the business issues that stand out as the greatest challenges for success. This increases their stake in the game, and itâ€™s voluntary. We continually refresh this single view of the environment and it’s an input and output of every planning session across the company.
Finally, we’ve formalized the mechanism of strategy by putting planning standards in place that creates a stronger accountability framework across all levels of the organization. Itâ€™s not a big â€œheavyâ€ though, it actually saves them time from how many of them used to plan. If every team across your organization isnâ€™t always talking about the change theyâ€™re trying to create, you donâ€™t have a rudder to steer your organization.
One final area I would look at is your measures. They drive behavior when they represent a gap that needs to be closed. Weâ€™re also in the process of refreshing the measures. Some organizations want to keep measures where they used to struggle, but have overcome those old barriers. Theyâ€™re proud of the work, and as long as the board lets them â€“ they become slam dunk measures which leads to complacency. The biggest of a number of problems with that is they donâ€™t direct how the company is working to improve.
That’s all for now, best of luck… I’d love to hear what ends up working best for you so please check in.