Alignment

Last week, I kicked off a series of posts focused on corporate strategy. I want to make these part theory and part practice, a way to mine the work I’ve been doing over the last couple of years for insights—hopefully folks out there will find them not only valuable, but good conversation starters for sharing their own thoughts and experiences.

In the last post, I shared my thoughts on why strategy is important:

I think strategy often gets a bad rap as a means of procrastinating, a form of analysis-paralysis, or, at the very least, a non-value-adding exercise: We don’t have time for strategy—we need to get something done.

But I would argue that getting the wrong thing done is worse than doing nothing at all. And without strategic planning, you have a lower probability not only of doing the right thing, but of doing it well.

What’s implied in these statements is that doing strategic planning poorly is worse than not doing strategic planning at all. And so with that, let’s take a look at one technique I’ve used successfully for doing it well.

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The way you do the things you do

Out of all the things we could do at any given time, which of them should we do?

It’s a difficult question, and one that leaders face on a regular basis. There’s a long list of things they can do, want to do, plan to do, have been told do to, or are smack in the middle of doing. But without strategy it’s more difficult to be sure why they might do one over the other, more difficult to articulate clearly and convincingly why they did this thing and not that.

Strategy done right:

  • Creates the conditions required to effect a tight integration between planning and execution
  • Allows you to take a laundry list of goals, aims, and aspirations and prioritize them so that you know which of them should take precedence when tough decisions need to be made
  • Aligns higher order activities like setting priorities and guiding principles with more tactically focused ones like building capabilities and executing against them

I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with 50+ organizations over the last few years as a strategic consultant. It’s given me the chance to watch first-hand how organizations and their leaders struggle to create strategies and execute effectively against them…and to partner with many of them in doing so.

I think strategy often gets a bad rap as a means of procrastinating, a form of analysis-paralysis, or, at the very least, a non-value-adding exercise: We don’t have time for strategy—we need to get something done.

But I would argue that getting the wrong thing done is worse than doing nothing at all. And without strategic planning, you have a lower probability not only of doing the right thing, but of doing it well.

In that spirit, I want to kick off a series of posts focused on corporate strategy: part theory, part practice, I plan to dig in to the work I’ve been doing over the last couple of years and mine it for the insights I find the most valuable—and hopefully folks out there will find them not only valuable, but good conversation starters for sharing their own thoughts and experiences.

As I get to work planning the next post, jump in now and give us your suggestions for posts, or even your thoughts, insights, etc. about strategy…it would be a great way to kick-start the conversation.

Not technology, but management

I took a longer break than expected from my reading over the holidays, so I’m only about halfway done with Porter and Teisberg’s Redefining Health Care. But despite that, I’m still finding lots of thought-provoking passages as I make my way slowly through their work.

I came across this one right before the holidays and have been meaning to write about it ever since: “We have come to believe strongly that technology is important, but that the major problem the [health care] system is facing today is not technology but management” (p. 100).

In my experience, this is an all-too-common problem at the organizations I work with inside and outside health care. Almost daily I bump up against leaders who are willing to absent themselves from the fundamentals of management in the hopes that a new technology will solve business problems.

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The year in review

I thought I’d step back from writing about leadership for a moment and look back over the first year of the intentional leader to see how things went–and also look forward a bit to some of my goals for 2011.

First, some stats for the year:

  • Launched 5/6/2010
  • 45 posts – about 6 posts per month
  • 1,801 total visits – 250 visitors per month
  • 121 visits – highest volume day
  • 30 comments

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