Strategy

Determining Success

“Your growth determines who you are.  Who you are will determine who you attract.  Who you attract determines the success of your organization.” – John Maxwell

What do you value? What does your organization value? How will those values lead to success?

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A Journey

It’s easy to think that an organization can “arrive” at excellence and then take a breather. In reality, organizational excellence requires a constant effort and process of reflecting on where you are and where you need to be. Having a framework and set of principles to guide this effort keeps teams moving forward and aligned.

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Start Small

PDSA can be used to test and measure system-wide improvements, however, it’s important to start with small fast tests when implementing PDSA. It’s helpful to focus on only one piece of the change rather than the entire implementation as you move through each round of testing. You can choose to run separate PDSA cycles simultaneously or sequentially depending on your desired outcome.

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Conduct an Initiative Audit

It’s hard for teams to innovate when they are pulled in competing directions. Before expecting innovation from your team, figure out if unnecessary initiatives are taking up time and energy. Conduct an initiative audit by asking your team to simply list all of the initiatives or projects they are working on. Align those initiatives to your strategic priorities and annual goals. If an initiative or project doesn’t align, consider getting rid of it. Why cloud valuable brain space with something that isn’t aligned?

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Clear Language

The futuristic nature of an organization’s strategic plan can sometimes lead to ambiguous language and goals. Ensure statements like “Become the market leader” are replaced in the final version of the strategic plan with concrete statements like “Increase consumption of services by __ target customer.”

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Less is More

When creating a scorecard, it is important to remember less is more. What are the most important indicators of success for each strategic area? What are the few measures that will indicate progress? What are the 1-2 actions that will get us closer to the goal? Most of us are responsible for a substantial number of projects and tasks. We don’t put all of these responsibilities on our scorecard. The scorecard is a tool that keeps us focused on the few that matter most. This doesn’t mean we don’t tend to the others, but it does help us prioritize.

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Connect Actions to Values

When discussing strategic direction and strategic actions with our teams, it’s helpful to connect those actions to the organization’s values to allow people to visualize the meaningful outcomes of their work.

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Strive to Inform

Executive leaders should constantly strive to keep their team informed, as well as the entire organization. Be certain your executive leaders have the necessary tools to make informed decisions in order to share out accurate information.

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Schedule Time for Note-Taking

Set aside specific time in your schedule after meetings to take notes. You’ll be meeting with many people and you’ll want to remember the valuable information you learned about the organization and them personally. Looking back on these notes will help you take action after your first 100 days have passed.

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Decide When Adjustment is Necessary

Have a look at your compliance standards. Where are you allowing variance, and should you?

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One Step at a Time

Review the strategic actions of a current goal and break the actions into smaller steps to be measured with more frequency. This will create the opportunity for small, achievable wins that build momentum and confidence within the team.

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To Be Great, Innovate

Nothing new or great is achieved by doing things the way they have always been done. Leaders that apply a results-focused approach are not afraid to experiment and take risks while understanding the importance of celebrating small steps of success.

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Conquer Big Goals

Leaders make change happen, and they do so by challenging their team to tackle Big Hairy Audacious Goals. To encourage and inspire a team to change and grow, leaders must break big goals into small, achievable action steps and celebrate the small wins along the way. The most effective change comes in incremental steps and the small wins create a cadence that keeps the synergy alive within the team. Small steps produce results that build confidence and increase the natural desire to increase momentum.

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Paint a Picture with Your Team

Fully activating a strategic plan and engaging all employees includes setting the stage and helping your team visualize the destination. How can you paint a picture of what the future will look like once the vision is accomplished? How will you inspire your team to enthusiastically embrace the vision and the strategic plan? Create a story to help your employees visualize your organization in 5 years and use your employees in the starring roles. Include in the storyline, what right looks like, and ask each employee how they see themselves supporting these goals. What actions will they take?

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Use Data to Action Plan

Collecting data is meaningless if we aren’t analyzing the data for opportunities and improvements. After data has been collected, analyzed, and shared, develop an action plan using information from these discussions. Set a challenging but achievable goal. Resist the temptation to set too many goals and stick to 1-3 to focus on.

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Drowning in Data?

The quality of the data is much more important than the quantity. Are you collecting the data that is most important for the organization? Are you using the data that’s being collected? Align the data to the organization’s goals to focus on what matters most and eliminate unnecessary data collection.

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From Strategy to Action

Are the organization’s broad goals converted into measurable annual goals? What actions are necessary to accomplish those annual goals? Who owns those actions? Setting and communicating defined annual goals as an executive leader is a vital first step to achieve organization-wide alignment. Team leaders can then determine what quarterly priorities will define success and which of their team members will be responsible for taking action. Progress and results are reported back to the executive leader in relation to the annual plan.

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Illustrate Goals Visually

Use a scorecard, stoplight report, or another tool to visually present yearly goals. This tool can be used in meetings to show the progress toward goals and make necessary adjustments if progress isn’t being made. Achieving goals becomes more likely if we have a constant focus on the actions being taken to attain success.

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Satisfaction Surveys

How do you know your stakeholders are satisfied? The best way is to ask. Create a stakeholder feedback survey and distribute it to customers, clients, the community, parents, etc., to gather essential data used for decision making and future success.

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Weekly Connections

Connect with your team once a week for 10-15 minutes. Each member reports: one win/progress made, what step they’re taking next, and any potential barriers to achieving their goal.

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Assign a Champion of the Goal

The organization’s executive leader determines the champion to own each of the goals and its achievement. The focus of the champion is always on how to reach or surpass the target. This is the person responsible for reporting out results at regular intervals and for identifying areas of success. The champion also facilitates discussion of strategy implementation and any needed changes or adjustments. These discussions and decisions always revolve around hitting the goal and increasing performance.

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One Step at a Time

Annual or 90-day goals broken into bite-sized pieces create the opportunity for small, achievable wins that build momentum and confidence within the team. Use these small achievements as an opportunity to celebrate progress towards the goal.

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Align Awards to Performance

Everyone makes a difference in the organization. Spend time during quarterly strategy sessions awarding individuals who have reached specific performance outcomes.

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Discussion for Improvements

Strategy sessions provide a forum for open and honest conversation about challenges and resources. The more we involve the entire team in the discussion, the richer the options for improvement.

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Identify the Actions

Which actions will produce 80% of the quarterly goal results? Identifying which actions produces the majority of the results will align individual behavior to organizational goals.

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Use Strategy to Inspire

Celebrating success maintains the focus for improvement and provides others with stories of success. Listening to the “why” of success during a strategy meeting may provide others with strategy or process improvement ideas.

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Strategy Sessions Rely on Data

It is most effective to schedule a strategy meeting after data needed to inform the work are available. We use data that informs progress toward the goal to make a judgement about how well we are executing strategic actions to accomplish the goal.

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Plan for the Future

Reflect on where you see the organization going in the next five years. Is that where you want it to go? What actions can you take to align the organization with your five year vision?

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Be Prepared

Research what’s trending in your industry and anticipate what problems you will encounter for the projects you’re currently working on and brainstorm 3 potential solutions for each scenario.

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Examine the Competition

Identify 3 things you need to do to analyze your organization’s competition and 3 things you need to do to prepare your team to win.

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Connect by Relating

Relate, don’t compare. During every meeting and interaction this week, identify how you can transfer and implement an idea or best practice to your team.

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Best Practices Out-Perform

Identify a best practice that’s currently being used by another unit or department that your team can implement to improve performance.

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Observe and Learn

To improve the performance of your team, observe and review behaviors of low performing teams as well as those of high performing teams. By observing low performing teams you learn what not to do.

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Work Towards Annual Goals Daily

Break your 90-day goals down to weekly goals and monitor your progress each week. 90-day planning focuses on the 90-day priorities and actions that will move you closer to achievement of your annual goals. Viewing annual goals in smaller portions will keep you aligned to the right goals.

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Do Less to Accomplish More

Identify the most important task aligned to your goals each day and finish it first. “By creating less activity, we actually create more urgency. The key is choosing the right activity and making sure it’s implemented to the fullest degree.” -John Kotter

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Create a Vision

People follow leaders that can see beyond today’s problems and visualize a brighter future. Show your team the connection between today, the future of the organization, and how they fit in.

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Guide to Purpose

Leaders help all employees find purpose in their work. Connect employees to what’s most meaningful to them. Ask, “What did you enjoy working on this past year? Why?” Then, help them align their upcoming goals to the organization’s overall strategy, using their response.

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