How will we succeed?

| February 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

polls_2hi41gl_0504_130810_poll_xlarge[1]As easy as the Aunt Mabel test is, (see the November edition of Musings on the Cove newsletter, What does your company do really?), figuring out how you will succeed is conversely, very tough. Do you cut prices, do you add features, do you outsource, or do you differentiate? “We need to focus on just a few things.” “We need to broaden our scope.” “We need to invest more in development.” “We need to stick to the tried and true.” How will we succeed is question #4 in Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage. Before you read further, I would recommend that you go back to the September edition of Musings on the Cove newsletter, Begin to Develop Your Playbook for Crossing the Chasm. Before you determine how you will succeed, you need to clearly understand why you exist. You also need to understand what you are good at, not what you would like to be good at, as articulated in Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept.

So now you have rolled up your sleeves and have determined that you and your team are going to win the game – beat the competition and grow a sustainable company that provides wealth to everyone. In the  Harvard Business Review article, What is Strategy?Michael Porter states, “A company can outperform rivals only if it can establish a difference that it can preserve. It must deliver greater value to customers or create comparable value at a lower cost, or do both.”

Here are a few key points to consider:

1. Recognize that your company needs to be viewed as a whole system, representing a collection of activities. These activities can be synergistic, supporting the others, or, they can act as obstacles. Here is an example. Your services group has been told, and is evaluated, on providing a repeatable software product with high margins. Your sales group has been directed to  (redundant) represent the company as flexible and willing to customize if necessary. This scenario represents incompatible activities.

2. Clearly understand all of the activities within your company, realizing they do have impact on each other. Then ask yourself which are compatible and which are incompatible.

3. Succeeding requires intentional decisions that support the best chance for a company to achieve.

Intentional infers pro-active and committed, not reactive and flavor-of-the-month leadership. This is hard work, requiring a fair amount of elbow – grease, constantly.

4. In The Advantage, Lencioni discusses strategic anchors. The leadership of a company chooses three anchors that are uses as lenses through which every decision must be viewed. There is nothing magic about the number three; it is just the number that has been most effective for his client. I will go with his recommendation. A few examples of anchors are: product superiority, lowest price in the market, and individualized service. What are your three anchors and thus the three lenses that you will evaluate all decisions?

5. Agreed upon anchors, (see your exhaustive list of activities to help determine your anchors), are very powerful. They help to minimize the tendency to make opportunistic, bright-and-shiny object decisions. Anchors protect against seemingly pragmatic decisions that can derail a company in the long run.

6. Anchors support credibility. Employees may have a dose of skepticism when it comes to management’s plans. Putting your decisions through the gauntlet keeps you honest and transparent (latest buzzword!), resulting in employees who believe that the executive team really does have a strategy and are willing to invest their brain power and energies to make it happen.

What are common potential anchors you have observed in business?


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Category: Accountability, Decision Making, Leadership, Newsletters


About the Author ()

Julia Hill-Nichols, SPHR, is the founder of LeadersCove, LLC. With over 30 years experience in operations and human capital management, Julia is gifted in the art and science of bridging strategic imperatives and a company’s human capabilities—executing for success, meeting bottom-line objectives and enlivening the people who are the organization’s lifeblood.

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