Cascading Goals and Strategies

Cascading Goals and Strategies

Poor Strategy Implementation - Most Costly Challenge

Two of our country’s top rated management experts, according to Business Week, offer insights into this problem. David Ulrich, professor of business at University of Michigan states the “biggest challenge is  strategic implementation or the inability to establish and implement solid strategic plans.” Ram Charan, a coach to a handful of America’s most successful CEOs, likewise says the big issue today is bad strategic implementation. He stresses “it is as simple as that: not getting things done, being indecisive, not delivering on commitments.” Consider the following:

  • Only 30% of strategic initiatives are successfully executed
  • 10% of effectively formulated strategies are implemented
  • 80% of major system investments don’t deliver the intended results
  • Only 14% of employees have a good understanding of their company’s strategy and direction
  • CEOs rightly feel that the process of implementing is too slow

Three Keys to Success

Prominent leadership guru Jim Collins summarizes in the article “Good to Great” the results of a five-year study. He and his team scoured a list of 1,435 established companies to find every extraordinary case that made a leap from average results to great results. The results of this study amazingly point to the need for simple, sustained, broad-based focus and execution. (Cascading Goals and Strategies)

1.  Focus

“There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process — a framework — kept each company, its leaders, and its people on track for the long haul. In each case, it was victory of steadfast discipline over the quick fix.”

Highly effective CEOs focus only on a few initiatives at once.  For example,  Jack Welch led five major initiatives during his 18 years as the CEO of G.E.

In a seminal article called “Beware the Busy Manager,” Heike Bruch and Sumantra  Ghoshal report on a ten year study they conducted of the behavior of busy managers. They found that, fully 90 percent of managers squander their time in all sorts of ineffective activities. A mere 10 percent of managers spend their time in a committed, purposeful, and reflective manner. Both focus and energy are critical traits. Together, they produce the kind of purposeful action organizations need most. Managers are not well focused, and unfortunately employees are not either. (Cascading Goals and Strategies)

2. Long Haul Perspective

Typically great products, operations, innovations, etc., are not created quickly.   Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon,   emphasizes that a huge competitive advantage is to think long-time.   He suggests that most companies are impatient and give up too soon.

3. People Engagement

“When people begin to feel the magic of momentum — when they begin to see tangible results and can feel the flywheel start to build speed — that’s when they line up, throw their shoulders to the wheel, and push. And that’s how change really happens.”

Importance of Catchball

What is catchball?  ‘Catchball’ involves tossing a ball back and forth.    In business ‘catchball’ involves tossing ideas back and forth.

Done in the spirit of counseling together, catchball opens a productive dialogue through the entire organization.   Instead of dictating goals and objectives, it is important that managers team together in tossing ideas, data and analysis back and forth to bring out the best thoughts and emotions and moving the organization forward.

A problem is created with leaders dictate or engage in pseudo-catchball – that is,  when employee feel  they can help shape a decision, and realize later that the decision was already made. (Cascading Goals and Strategies)

Positive Accountability

Have you ever noticed that “accountability” is a negative word? It’s always used in a way that seems to force someone against his or her will to do something he or she wouldn’t otherwise do: “We’re going to hold them strictly accountable for their actions!” or “I expect you to be held accountable for your mistakes.” If the person or persons were not caught, there would be absolutely no chance they would have done what they were expected to do.

There are two extreme approaches when it comes creating organizational accountability. Too many organizations leverage fear as a motivational force to get things accomplished.   The risk of losing a job is the primary motivator.  Workers quickly become unhappy in a fear-based environment.

At the other extreme, some organizations that don’t have bottom lines create permissive atmospheres. In these situations, the most productive employees lose enthusiasm.  Advancements are often given to “talkers” who have learned how to develop “presence”  but  often lack substance.

The most important questions an organization can ask itself are, “what type of accountability is most appropriate? What approach will create positive results for both the organization and its employees?”

A system of positive accountability focuses on strengths of its employees and looks for the fit of organization. It ensures that win/win is a reality and not just a concept. Truly effective leaders understand their people. They understand the talents and passion of their employees. Most importantly, they align talents and passions with the required work to create success.  accountability is most appropriate? What approach will create positive results for both the organization and its employees?”

Positive accountability ensures that there are mutually understood expectations, progress is being made at an agreeable pace, and, quality levels are being met.

Progress reviews are at the heart of a system of positive accountability. If conducted correctly and frequently enough, they ensure that there is organization alignment, that the organization is meeting its objective, and that the employees are growing and reaching their potential.

Cascading Goals and Strategies

By David Willden