Making The Jump: Strategy

As one of the biggest Business Strategy Companies in NZ it is always an interesting time when we review our own. Over the next two days our team will all be together in Auckland as we train, celebrate success, reconnect as a tribe (after all that is what Company culture is!), have fun, review and reset our Strategic moves and action priorities.

Going into the conference we know exactly what all of our clients think of us, how they rate our people, our services and how we can improve it even further. We have researched and worked on who our target markets should be, we are in the process of reviewing our brand story and marketing tools. We are in a good space and have confidence in our data which in turn will allow us to discuss, debate and align to the key decisions we need to make. In 2012 & 2013 we were lucky enough to have John Spence facilitate our Strategy. One of our Core Values is “Live what we teach” and so we too incorporate our own framework and tools as we run and grow our own business. We have the same challenges.

Strategy isn’t that hard. As Jack Welch puts it “you pick a general direction and implement like hell!” The challenge is to execute the strategy in amongst all the noise of “Business as usual.” Thats what we do as core business for our clients and it is what we are good at as a company, accepting that you have to constantly work at it.

I’m really looking forward to hanging out with our team, to the fun, the discussions and to aligning as a tribe to the “Leap of Faith” we need to take in order to move our strategy forward.

How is your strategy? Is it simple? Do your people know what it is? Do they know their role in it? Are you on track?

The gap....between who we are and who we want to be.
The gap….between who we are and who we want to be.

All in a Weeks Work

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Change is definitely a process. Change is one of life’s constants and yet people hate it. How do you lead change? How do you lead in constant change? How do you lead?

I am lucky enough to lead a talented team that works with some really amazing leaders working across many different industries. We get to share their successes, understand their challenges and to roll up our sleeves and help them execute their plans and to lead change. Without doubt cutting through complexity is a major part of our role at The Results Group. The tempo of modern business is fast, full of uncertainty and always changing and evolving. There are industries and great companies out there who, whilst seeking structure, systems and processes to consolidate change (or growth) never get the chance to do so. The next change is upon them whether that be market conditions, industry disruption, technology impacts or access to funds. How do you lead in constant change? How do you lead a team of very smart people in times of uncertainty? How do you attract and retain top talent?

Change is a Process

Often there is a perception that change is an event but the reality is it is a process. There is a wealth of information about the 8 steps of change (Kotter) and it is very applicable and important to understand each step. My experience is that the “people stuff” presents the biggest challenge.  By this I mean the part where a leader has to support the team with whatever the change or the challenge is. The softer skills of getting that right mix of being assertive enough to push change through yet empathetic enough to understand the needs of those within the business. Who the champions of change are vs the resistors.

Recently John Spence (link here to watch the short video) recorded a video to help me to support a CEO going through a large growth strategy of acquiring other businesses. This meant some of his Senior Team had a lot of change to their roles and in some cases did not have the skills to move forward to the new entity. There was a need to support them because they in turn needed to support others across the company. It is a process, a journey and for some it will be exciting and for others it will be a hurdle they can’t negotiate and yet the change is needed in order to allow the Company to grow and move forward.

Over the past week there have been many leaders to support in change. This is a snap shot of a typical week;

1. The construction company needing structure and support to start the process of change. We found  the way ahead after spending several days in their business talking to key staff as they do their job and observing.

2. The tertiary training provider needing a GM in a part time capacity (20 hours a week) for several months as their funding is confirmed and to lead whilst a full time GM is recruited.

3. The CEO and founder needing support to plan the succession into the business of his daughter. What role should she play and how does the transition occur over a number of years?

4. The accounting firm seeking KPI’s that drive high performance as they engage and develop their talent.

5. The CEO needing support to help a key member of his senior team through some professional and personal issues whilst protecting his role in the team and keeping his part of the business on track.

6. The Founding Director needing support as he steps back from his professional services company as he gets his head around succession.

7. The distribution company needing to change the way their sales team sell to totally change the way they do business.

8. The CEO of a large Australian Company seeking clarity on how to execute (operational planning) some aspects of their strategy.

9. The CEO looking to grow key leaders across his NZ & Australian Company.

10. The Board Chairman needing support to develop the CEO of the company.

11. The Company owner wanting to bring good independent Governance into his business to lift accountability, financial performance and to challenge his thinking.

12. Supporting the shareholders of a business to overcome conflict caused by differing expectations.

13. Working with a Senior leadership Team to develop Vision, Strategy and an execution plan. The important thing being to get alignment across the team.

Often solutions to these issues are simple however never easy to execute when a change in “people” is needed. Do we know all the answers? Often no, but facilitating the difficult conversation is often the way to get the answers on the table and agreed to. Any plan is better than no plan and once on the journey it can change and evolve. I hear my instructors from my days of Army Infantry training saying “Whats the plan Mr Langston? Make a plan, any plan, people will die, just make a plan and back yourself to change it as you execute it.” So too in business……..

It is all in a weeks work.