Organizational Excellence

People and Process Improvement

Posts Tagged ‘Strategy

Dual Residency

leave a comment »

Been in process of updating / doing a blogger’s version of a 5-S. Newer stuff is here: One Pond-Ripples. Focus: influence and impact, values based leadership and engagement, community and this wonderfully esoteric thing called The Greater Good.

I will be pulling a few posts from this blog forward after updating so stay tuned!



Culture-Evolution, Revolution? 7-S Thoughts

leave a comment »

We’ve had some good ‘culture’ conversations on the Employee Engagement Network before. Recently, a poster offered this: Is There Collaboration in Your Culture?

The topic just naturally gravitated toward the old dilemma…where does culture come from? How do you change it?

I’ve done a little on Change Management here: see Change is OK, Just Don’t Mess With My Stuff…  but am taking a slightly different view here. To frame my initial response I called on the old standard McKinsey 7-S model, where “shared values” (translated – culture) is at the center of the model. Among the satellite S components: style, strategy, structure, systems.

An individual-based performance mgmt system, departmental silo structure, and misaligned micro goals all encourage all drive “me” style which impacts culture. All “S” components are interrelated. Therefore to consciously impact one all must be addressed. On the flip side, if you mess with one you inadvertently mess with the others. By design or default, the “S” components tend to change together. Better to plan! Strategy and systems drive style / culture:

  1. Strategy: set goals that require collaboration to complete.
  2. Systems: use performance mgmt to manage those collaborative projects. Interdependent success (or failure)
  3. Style: items 1 and 2 demand communication, collaboration, teamwork

EEN contributor Steven wrote…too many companies are rewarding individual efforts and ignoring successful teamwork. Emphasis–cross functional teamwork. I feel it’s even worse going half the distance, falling in love with the “t” word but only within departments / functions. So instead of a cowboy culture you have gang affiliation, still turf-centered.

Ben’s comment in the EEN discussion will hopefully trigger discussion…The culprit is top management. They create the culture and their people follow their leadership whether it is good, bad, or ugly.

I support that view, under two specific conditions. First, where a founding leader instills his own values upon the organization, and they take root and are nurtured by subsequent leadership. Second, when leadership re-engineers an organization that addresses all seven “S” components together. A rarity?

Other than those two instances, in my opinion culture is evolutionary—the ultimate collaboration.

Written by Craig

April 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm

More on Performance Management

leave a comment »

See prior post. Another performance management conversation is taking place now on the EEN, a few excerpts and my thoughts follow. You have to sign up and be a member of the specific group to join the discussion, but at least you can check it out here.  

David Marklew started the discussion with this:

What would the reaction in your organisation be if an announcement was published stating that they (performance appraisals) were being scrapped – happy faces or sad faces from both sides? I’m smiling just at the thought of the reaction.  

Is perf mgmt just a seasonally hot topic? Maybe, considering that PM is typically only thought about “seasonally”. One of my issues with it, or more accurately with the way it is misused.

First need, I think, is to re-think what it is: an alignment and planning process, then a project management / status reporting tool. As such, it cannot be a semi-annual check-box ritual to comply with HR policy. If a project management tool, and the business plan drives the projects, how frequent should the touches be? Re-positioning elevates the relevance and importance.

(John) SMART objectives tend to be outdated very quickly – far more quickly than the time to the next appraisal…Per the comment above, when projects and priorities change plans need to change too. No way can they be carved in stone at the start of the period and left alone.

(John again) some managers will avoid feeding back on performance and development progress if there is nothing in place. This is one of my biggest concerns. Hate to say it but sometimes we need to be nudged into talking to one another!

Alison nailed it for me: It isn’t the tool which needs to be abolished, what about the skill of the user, how it’s used and how it’s positioned, these are surely key to how engaging the action is, like with most tools….Perhaps tailor made appraisals with a central core of organisational requirements might engage

If core competencies, or guiding principles etc etc exist, how well do they get driven into reality? To me, using a perf mgmt process is one ideal way. An issue, however, is how to objectively assess a person’s performance on the softer attributes.

At issue also is what Alison notes as the skill of the user. Like most anything else clarity, fairness and consistency are essential. Without these perf mgmt is a dangerous loaded weapon.

(David B) they have become so bureaucratic that many managers dread that “time of the year” when they have to be done…think about it, a time of the year, not ongoing!  I’m in the camp of de-formalizing them, but making sure at the same time that that kind of communication doesn’t fall through the cracks, and that people get feedback along the way.  So yes, scrap the “system”…

Need: ongoing, regular touches. Give people the skills they need to effectively use the process, including giving and receiving feedback (TALKING to each other??!). Use the process to manage execution of the business plan, as well as to drive the softer attributes into reality.

Balance the process by adding the individual development element.

David B said expect managers to do their job…. a well designed perf mgmt system should simply be a value-adding tool to help them do their job!

Written by Craig

March 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm

A Roadmap to Alignment

leave a comment »

A Roadmap to Alignment

Alignment is a bit of a baby topic right now, but it’s critical and will be added to soon and often. As the sub-title of In Pursuit of Excellence is “Engagement > Alignment > Execution > Results” I am maintaining a Roadmap for each of the first three topics, posted under “Pages” at the top right of the Home Page.

Alignment, pet term “being on the same page”, comes in many shapes and sizes, the most critical being alignment…

  • Between the company’s goals and values and your own;
  • Of your position’s accountabilities to the company’s top strategies; and
  • Of your job and career to your personal strengths and motivators.

In A Roadmap to Alignment  are thumbnails for posts related to strategy and alignment. Scope of “strategy” includes vision, mission, guiding principles and how these are communicated and acted upon. Both personal alignment and business alignment are examined, per the three bullets above. NOT in scope is how to develop a plan. I’ll assume that your company already has a plan or you wouldn’t be here browsing around, you’d be on the street corner looking for spare change.

Written by Craig

May 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

What’s Your Alignment Quotient?

leave a comment »

We are making a huge, dangerous assumption if we think that even a third of our people truly understand half of leadership’s strategic musings. Actually, can you be sure the individuals on the leadership team interpret your strategy the same way? If not, how can they execute?

Why is it so many mission statements never come down off the wall? Because they’re written in a foreign language. Same with strategy.

“An operational definition puts communicable meaning into a concept. An operational definition is one that people can do business with. An operational definition of safe, round, reliable, or any other characteristics must be communicable, with the same meaning to vendors, purchasers and the production workers. Same meaning, yesterday and today.” (W Edwards Deming)

Look inside and answer these questions with absolute honesty. Better yet, if your leadership team can openly discuss these kind of things, come to a group conclusion. The absolute ideal…have an objective outsider with assessment experience do an assessment of the front line troops. Then, listen and take action.

1. How widely understood is our company’s mission and / or vision and top strategy among our employees?

2. Do we have a published set of values or beliefs? How widely known are they? Do they make a difference?

3. What are the company’s macro metrics that are most communicated to the most people? How well are these macro metrics connected to the company’s top strategy? Can you easily tell which metric assesses which strategic element?

4. Do areas or departments have their own clear objectives that are consistent with / in support of the company’s mission / vision / strategy? How clear is the connection to top strategy?

5. Are local objectives measured? Can people impact their department’s metrics in their daily work? Are status updates provided real-time and areas of concern acted upon?

6. Do people know what is important about the job they do, and how they can move the numbers – how they really do make a difference?

Do any of your responses point toward an opportunity for improvement? So what are you doing just sitting there?

Written by Craig

May 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm

“Engagement” Per Commercial Authorities

leave a comment »

Unless otherwise indicated, the following excerpts are taken directly from the sources noted. This post is part of “In Search Of Engagement”…what IS it, how do you DO it? First installment of this “In Search Of” mini series was What IS Engagement Anyway?


Towers Perrin


…our (Global Workforce Study) study paints a picture of a workforce that is energetic, ambitious and committed to working hard and giving its best. Engagement measures the level of connection employees feel with their employer, as demonstrated by their willingness and ability to help their company succeed, largely by providing discretionary effort on a sustained basis.

But turning people’s energy and ambition into engagement – and ultimately into significant performance lift – demands attention, focus and some very different behaviors from senior leaders.



“Head, hands, and heart” …the sum total of these three elements is what we used to measure overall employee engagement levels.

1.      “Head” refers to the rational part of the engagement equation, how employees connect with their company’s goals and values.

2.      “Hands” refer to the employee’s willingness to put in a great deal of extra effort to help the company succeed.

3.      “Heart” is the emotional connection between employee and employer, such as the employee’s pride in the organization.


…engagement is not just part of someone’s DNA from birth. It is definitely possible to increase employee engagement levels among existing workers.




The Three Types of Employees

Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.

Not-engaged employees are essentially “checked out”. They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time – but not energy or passion – into their work.

Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.


(a side, but critical, thought…what about new people coming into a company? Which way will they lean; what are the influencers? What can be done to tip new people toward engaged?)




(Excerpts from The State of Employee Engagement 2008 — short registration required)

Engaged employees are not just committed. They are not just passionate or proud. They have a line-of-sight on their own future and on the organization’s mission and goals. They are enthused and in gear, using their talents and discretionary effort to make a difference in their employer’s quest for sustainable business success.


Employee engagement is a complex equation that reflects each individual’s unique, personal relationship with work. As such, there are limits to what organizations can do with broad-brush workforce processes or communication programs (it’s up to leadership and individual relationships).


The term “employee engagement” means different things to different organizations. Some equate it with job satisfaction, which unfortunately can reflect a transactional relationship that is only as good as the org’s last round of perks or bonuses. Others measure engagement by gauging employees’ emotional commitment to their organization. Although commitment is an important ingredient, it is only a piece of the engagement puzzle.


While organizations are keen to maximize the contributions of each individual toward corporate imperatives and metrics, individual employees need to find purpose and satisfaction in their work. BW’s model focuses on

·         Contribution to the company’s success

·         Personal satisfaction in their role.


We believe that aligning employees’ values, goals and aspirations with those of the organization is the best method for achieving the sustainable employee engagement required for an organization to reach its goals.


Full engagement represents an alignment of maximum job satisfaction (“I like my work and do it well”) with maximum job contribution (“I help achieve the goals of the organization”)


Engagement has been hailed as the secret ingredient to competitive advantage and organizational success. It is an intuitive concept: committed, aligned, and passionate employees are good for the business.


Coming… Engagement: the gap between academics and the shop floor

Written by Craig

April 18, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Involvement > Commitment > Engagement > Execution

leave a comment »

If this is your first time visiting In Pursuit of Excellence, I hope you will take a couple of minutes to read the “ABOUT” page (see link at the top right). “About” describes the way Excellence is organized, and my mission and intent. It will help you find the topics that are of the most interest to you.


See the article linked on the sidebar: The Business Case for Alignment and Engagement. This is a fairly lengthy piece, excerpts are included below. You really need to go through the whole piece, though. It’s amazing how much research has been conducted, and how inarguable the evidence is, that Execution hinges on Engagement.


Discuss here, please, not on the page following the article linked above.


A few notable pieces of data…companies with the “right stuff” from an engagement perspective experience just a tad bit of payback. From various studies, different points in time, different samples:

  • 50% higher Productivity; 44% more Profit; 13% higher Retention
  • 28% Earning Per Share growth rate vs 11.2% decline in EPS in low engagement companies, same time frame
  • Companies with engagement scores in the top 25% had an EPS growth rate 2.6 times greater than those companies that scored below average.

BlessingWhite’s study of engagement in North America published in 2009 found that 29% of the workforce is fully engaged, while 19% are actively disengaged. A Gallup study estimated the cost of disengagement for U.S. companies (2006) to be as much as $3.5 billion in lost productivity.

Engagement is critical to strategy execution because highly engaged employees contribute a greater level of discretionary effort to delivering on their accountabilities. It is the difference between complying to marching orders and being committed to achieving the company’s mission and goals.

I am a native Iowan. It doesn’t take an Animal Science degree from Iowa State University to understand that contented cows give more milk. But you must have perfect alignment and clarity around what the company’s mission and goals are, or the employees will be engaging in the wrong battles.

  •  Can you summarize your company’s strategy in 35 words or less? If so, would your colleagues put it the same way? 
  • Leaders are mystified when what they thought was a beautifully crafted strategy is never implemented. They fail to appreciate the necessity of having a simple, clear, succinct strategy statement …It is a dirty little secret that most executives don’t know what all the elements of a strategy statement are, which makes it impossible for them to develop one.
  • “Do your employees know their three most important priorities out of all the items on their to-do lists? Are employees clear on how their work supports the organization’s goals?”

Written by Craig

April 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Engagement, Strategy

Tagged with ,