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Good execution is really about one thing: understanding the reality of your organization and making decisions based on facts.
Just when we thought we had the pandemic under control and the economy was roaring back with tight employment, we must face a new reality: it isn’t over yet.
Our Line-of-Sight colleagues recently organized a roundtable for senior executives on the topic of “Strategic and operational frameworks post-Covid.”
They were expecting to hear about increased digital delivery, sustainable supply chains, and emerging customer behaviors.
But something interesting happened: all that those leaders wanted to discuss was leadership and people. That was the only perspective that mattered to them when considering their strategies and operations.
Today’s blog will be brief. Today, we are looking straight at reality. We are considering the two numbers that summarize the plight of most leaders: 90% and 95%.
If your company underwent drastic changes in its strategy or operating model during the past 2 years, you are not alone. Back in 2020, garment companies started to produce face masks, and appliance manufacturers churned out respirators. Not every CEO made such dramatic shifts in their operations, but many of us needed to re-orient our goals and execution to survive and thrive.
If there is one positive consequence of the pandemic, it is how companies have become more thoughtful about their culture.
In the dark days of 2020, business owners and CEOs sought the right balance between empathy and expectation for performance, leading them to redefine their values and culture. And of course, a tight job market encouraged companies to be more explicit about their culture because candidates now seek greater purpose.
You can boost your employees’ morale with a clear strategy. Clarifying your strategy and communicating it to employees can help them focus on the future, get a new sense of purpose, and focus on what matters.
In her groundbreaking study led by Harvard and Salesforce during the pandemic, famed innovation expert Linda Hill asked 1,700 executives: 97% said that their companies would not remain competitive unless they embarked on a digital transformation.
It is naturally challenging to try and establish causality between a company's growth rate and how its executives rate their own leadership. But the humility displayed by CEOs of growing companies hints at what Paul Leinwand, the co-author of a recent HBR article, calls “the paradoxes of leadership in the post-pandemic era”.
Among the five KSEs, the one with the broadest variation between CEOs is “activities and structure”, defined as the ability for an organization to focus employees on the tasks that matter the most to execute the strategy. CEOs who rate their execution capabilities the highest in this area lead organizations experiencing moderate growth (between +5 and +50%); on average they rate their capabilities on activities and structure at 78 points; compare that to CEOs of organizations that contracted (by 5% or more), at 59 points, and those of high-growth companies (growing 50% or more) at 63 points.
Selecting metrics is of paramount importance. Read on to see the five questions that you need to ask and answer when implementing a new set of metrics or evaluating an existing set.
In our always-on world, burnout has long been a reality. But in 2020 burnout and chronic stress became rampant as a third of U.S. employees started “living at work” and faced threats to their health, economic insecurity, and concerns for their loved ones. Burnout is more than just an employee problem; it is an organizational problem that requires an organizational solution.
In the post-pandemic, companies are restarting projects that got paused or side-tracked during the COVID crisis. But as employees are adjusting to being back in the office and consumer demand remains unpredictable, leaders should avoid the trap of doing too much, too soon.
The pandemic compelled many companies to rapidly pivot and develop new delivery models, products, or services to meet massive changes in customer behavior. So, we would expect many CEOs to continue to follow product innovation strategies in 2021; in fact, only about a quarter of them (24%) do; as we discuss in another article on market positioning, the majority of CEOs (50%) decided to pursue strategies based on customer intimacy. This makes a lot of sense: companies should be as attuned to demand shifts as possible in periods of high uncertainty, and this may inform the decision to innovate or not.
Line-Of-Sight was curious about the strategies CEOs are following as they navigate their way out of the pandemic. It turns out that only 21% of CEOs surveyed are following an operational excellence strategy. Operation excellence is a strategy aimed at delivering a combination of low price, ease, speed, hassle-free use, and convenience.
Want to follow a Customer Intimacy-based strategy? This post tells you how you need to execute.
Line-of-SightSM led a survey of more than 100 CEOs to measure how they evaluated the execution capabilities of their organization. This survey took place in Q1 2021, when most businesses were pivoting to take advantage of post-pandemic economic growth. The results indicate that among all five key execution success metrics, CEOs rate their capabilities related to human capital the lowest at 64, 7 points lower than the average organization health index at 71.
In the first quarter of 2021, Line-of-SightSM conducted research to measure how CEOs evaluated their organizations’ execution performance. The research considered in particular whether large companies (more than 500 employees) had any execution advantage compared to small to midsize companies.
CEOs of high-growth companies rate their performance lowest among their peers
Surveys show that between 25% and 50% of employees plan to look for a job this year and will do so as soon as the effects of the pandemic subside. Employers were experiencing high employee churn prior to the pandemic last spring, but since then, voluntary turnover reached its lowest level in nine years as employees hunkered down among high economic uncertainty. We now predict voluntary job-leaving will increase significantly in 2021 as employees resume the job searches they put off for the past year.
In 2021, executives are challenged to follow a clear strategic path: should they continue to contain cost at the expense of new products? Should they pivot to address new demand, without knowing if it will evaporate when things return to normal? How can they move in-person customer service excellence online?
This week, we consider how you can keep your employees’ competencies up to date despite the shifts in the work they’ve been asked to perform since the pandemic started.
This week we discuss a simple approach to align activities and structure to your business strategy in the post-pandemic. IPreviously, we stressed this simple truth: execution is the sum of all the activities performed by your employees. In order to achieve your long-term goals, you need to be doing the right work
In 2020, the pandemic crisis brought to the forefront the importance of relevant dashboards. When everything goes well, executives can live with ill-fitted metrics, because they know their business intimately and can supplement incomplete or inadequate data by their own experience.
This week we discuss the execution data we have seen while working with clients during the pandemic. We are taking a look at leadership, and how executives can extend the positive attributes of their crisis management into the post-pandemic phase in 2021.
Despite the amount of change companies have been subject to, and perhaps because of it, Line-of-SightSM data show that our clients have over-indexed on communicating their intent and goals to employees.
Market discipline is the alignment of your processes, systems, and culture with your competitive strategy. Market discipline starts at the top: the leadership team must define the mission (why do customers buy from us versus the competition), vision (what needs to be done to deliver the value proposition), and strategic intent of the organization. Only then can processes, infrastructure, and assets be aligned.
You execute with people and through people. Employees are your most precious asset, but they are also the one asset over which you have the least control. Employees walk out of your facilities at the end of each workday and many of them have not even been physically in the office in the past 9 months. In addition, the pandemic created an unusual dynamic as voluntary turnover abated during 2020 and many employees hunkered down, so that we expect a massive talent exodus in 2021, once GDP growth is firmly established and changing jobs becomes less risky than it was last year. Even if you are the lucky recipient of that talent, this will raise your retention stake even higher: the crisis showed employees what good crisis leadership and a supportive culture looked like, and they will expect the same going forward even when the pandemic dissipates. So how will you retain your talent and ensure it drives your execution?
Execution is the sum of all the activities and tasks performed by your employees. This is where the rubber hits the road. These activities and tasks must be directly relevant to your strategy. On paper, your processes and roles may be finely tuned and exactly what you need to execute. In the reality of the field, the actual tasks that employees perform may be very different from what the management thinks is happening.
A set of well-chosen metrics allows employees to understand exactly how their activities are going to be tracked and how their output will be aggregated into successful execution. In other words, good metrics will foster the right behaviors to execute.
Execution excellence starts at the top. It is the leadership team’s responsibility to set the foundation of execution by formulating a clear market positioning, communicating it to all employees with credibility, deliberately and thoughtfully managing the changes required to maintain excellence in operations, and being self-aware enough to understand their own strengths and gaps to deliver against their strategic goals.
What happens when True North is defined, but not communicated? Execution will suffer as employees perform their jobs based on different assumptions and goals. It is not uncommon for teams to pursue conflicting goals; sometimes, managers and employees form cliques that each defend a different belief about what the strategy should be, a recipe for a toxic culture. No organization is immune to this confusion. Learn why communicating True North to your employees matter.
Follow these three tips to help you become a market leader.
When Covid-19 burst upon the scene this past march, startup ventures faced dramatic shifts in markets and the importance of strategic agility became undeniable: If you wanted your venture to survive, let alone thrive, business experts almost universally advocated deep internal cuts accompanied by pivots to new markets and business models. However, many well-funded startups in hard-hit industries such as hospitality, travel, and furniture to name a few — shunned strategic agility (changing product-market fit) for stability and resolutely stayed the course with only minor tweaks.
A new version of leadership has emerged during the pandemic, Sapient Leadership. A Sapient Leader is characterized by being wise, sagacious, and discerning in navigating change while also being humane in the face of change that can often feel alien. In this post, we'll discuss the four pillars of Sapient Leadership.
Values-based leadership and attention to the community are always smart, but now they are mandatory. Under so-called normal circumstances, teams that are clear on their purpose work harder, smarter, and more collaboratively. And when leaders exhibit empathy, their employees: feel safer, work more creatively, and perform better. The pain associated with these past few months has destabilized us, but it has also held up a mirror, stripping away comfort and routine and revealing who we truly are. The choices we make in this moment will shape who we are going forward— and what our organizations —will become. In times of trauma, these strategies can help organizations not merely survive, but build what we wish what had been there all along.
As the conditions around an organization, department, or function continue to change, organizations must be prepared to morph their performance measures. It’s set and reset, not set and forget. As many CEOs observe these days, the dynamics of their respective business operating environments are changing constantly in response to digital innovation, social media, and the emergence of Covid-19. It’s time to rethink how they develop their performance measures. Going forward you must look at performance as a two-way street and watch for the linkages between indicators and the impact of one upon another. And most importantly, be ready to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
In times of crisis, it’s easy for organizations to default to old habits—but those are often the times in which new approaches are most valuable. As companies position themselves for the new normal, they cannot afford to be constrained by traditional information sources, business models, and capital allocation behaviors. Instead they must highlight anomalies and challenge mental models, revamp their business models, and invest their capital dynamically to not only survive the crisis but to thrive in the post-pandemic world.
In the midst of the current pandemic, we have all become much more painfully aware of the fragility of supply chains, health care, and other critical systems. Many CEO’s have announced their intention to rebuild their businesses more resiliently, but not many know exactly how to go about accomplishing this task. Very few business schools teach resilience, and today’s managerial toolkit is primarily focused on financial performance management. As a result, very few organizations are able to explicitly design for, measure, and manage resilience. In this post we discuss 6 actions a company can take to become more resilient.
Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends Study reveals that current realities and unresolved debates are weighing us down, even as we clearly see a future full of opportunities emerging later in this new decade. The changes we are witnessing, brought about by uncertain times, are not only disrupting our present but will set the “new normal” for how we live, work, operate, and do business. Reskilling employees has become a vital part of the business agenda.
It’s an understatement to say the pandemic presents the biggest challenge institutions of all types have faced in decades. Leaders are in the process of reimagining their strategy and values in the context of the “new normal” that they are facing, requiring their organizations to fundamentally transform their systems of organizing, managing, and leading to enable effective execution of their new direction — and do so quickly! The author of this article who has considerable experience in both working and studying corporate transformations points out six common interrelated reasons that often lead to failures to transform. He refers to them as hidden barriers. Leaders often don’t know — or sometimes choose not to know — about the hidden barriers that stand in the way of their institution’s transformation. People often don’t speak up about these barriers, fearing career derailment and even firing (for example Boeing, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, to name a few). This in turn makes it impossible for senior teams to learn about these barriers and to take corrective action.
Organizationl change can be challenging. Follow these tips for successful change management.
If we were to ask your frontline employees to identify your business strategy, how many of them would know the answer?
It is critical that an organization has both a strong mission statement and a strong vision statement.
The Line-of-Sight℠ is getting a new look today. We're excited to announce the new and improved thelineofsight.com website.