Most managers and leaders think that we need to fix the strategy itself (the idea) or tell our team to execute better (ala http://bit.ly/7sRnkx) but the reality is quite different.
In my 20 or so years of operational experience, i’ve seen that HOW we formulate the direction leads it to succeed or not. If we involve people, if we engage the tough issues, if we make the tradeoffs to narrow down our choices, if we take rather than get assigned responsibility, then we get better outcomes. It’s not an either/or thing. We absolutely need clear vision and direction on where to go. We need a solid “WHAT” of the right direction. What we ALSO need is a way to do this work (the “HOW”) so that the people who can make it real, will.
For years now, our clients at Rubicon have let us build a different kind of strategic process with them. They’ve let us not only catalyze and define the big idea, but they let us work with them to translate that big idea into a plan and approach that everyone buys into and ultimately makes real. We never shared with them what we were doing, just the results. But it’s time to come clean and share that we’ve been intentionally focused on the process as a way to get the results. We know that having us come in with the solid strategy without having a team of people ready to execute it would lead to, well, another McKinsey kind of engagement. It would not create results, only PPT slides.
Strategies are often doomed to fail from the start because of how they were formed. So many bigger companies still deal with an age-old problem. They set strategy at the top of the organization (the 80,000 foot level) and then tell their people to execute it (at the 20,000 foot level). Without a process to connect the two levels, an “Air Sandwich” is created. Without connecting the two levels, the gap in understanding reduces velocity.
This “secret sauce” process is captured in a new book called The New How. O’Reilly published the book and helped make it a highly readable product (well, as interesting as a strategy book can get). The book started shipping on January 4th, 2010 (buy it here). It talks to the framework to do collaborative work, but it also talks about how to enable a company culture, and be better leaders within that context. It specifically talks to how each of us are champions of ideas, across any silos and independent of any specific roles.
We thank our clients and colleagues who have helped us to understand these simple truths so others can benefit, and for being forgiving and flexible during the last year that it took Nilofer to produce the work.
(originally posted on Rubicon Consulting)
(Artwork by @gapingvoid, custom to NewHow)