How close is your brand to Consumers?

As a leader you should ask this question, is your brand working hard for you while you are busy making business presentations?

A brand is the sum of experiences you are providing to your consumer in the entire lifecycle. At each stage, there is an expectation from the consumer, if you are meeting 10/10 then you have the consumer as your advocate, if not you may have to struggle to retain your consumer.

India has been a customer acquisition market because of its size and population. We do not take customer engagement seriously, more so when it comes to giving experience. The focus is always been on acquiring, acquiring and acquiring more even if you are unable to give value or service to the consumer.

The mindset has to change. Today the customer is more empowered and has choices if you do not have a secret ingredient – then why should someone buy you? There are more like you in the market. You are just like a commodity and the only differentiator is your pricing and placement, not your brand!!

So what to do? Call your advertising agency- NO! Try this dipstick

Align – Brand journey starts inward outward. Each and every stakeholder in your company from Management, Sales, HR, Finance, IT, Admin, is your touching your customer directly or indirectly – ask them 3 questions

  1.  Why do we exist?
  2. What value we bring to our consumer
  3. What role do you play in achieving that agenda

If you get a clear and unified answer from each of your function,

  • Give a pat on your back
  • If NO, then you are barking at the wrong tree

Customer experience is not owned by one department, it is owned by the organizations. If you use OKR or Hoshin try incorporating this and see how aligned your teams are.

If you get this right see how growth unlocks, it sounds simple but it that elephant which is moving in your office yet no one sees apart from you !!!

Agile Practices in Strategy Execution

Strategy Execution is not just Execution problem, it’s also an Alignment and Accountability problem.For companies who have gone beyond the fight for survival, the next level of growth depends on how well the company is able to execute its strategic projects & goals.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Most often these strategic initiatives and projects take a back seat because the people who are involved in executing these projects are also involved in the day to day business operations. Another problem is; people who are involved in the execution of these strategic projects are also not communicated and aligned with why execution of these strategic projects are important for company growth and what’s in for them if execution goes well.

To cut short, CEO and Strategy Head doesn’t invest much of their time in getting the buy-in from the people who are actually executing the growth agenda.  And once the buy-in is their, company face problem in articulating what needs to be achieved and how the measurement on the progress of execution can be measured properly. Current strategy and project management practices and processes are primarily focused on

(a) breaking the projects into too many tasks and sub-task to make sure that people who execute the project should not apply their common sense in execution.

(b) collecting the status of the progress to put a RAG(Red, Amber, Green) status.  CEO/PMO office spend most of their time in collecting the status from various stakeholders involved in projects and task in those projects than spending time on why the executing getting delayed and whether the required outcome will be achieved or not. And whether the required outcome is still per what is required by customer and market.

To summarize, the 3 major problems to achieve the timely execution on strategic projects are

  1. The problem of Alignment and buy-in from people beyond the Senior leadership team
  2. The problem of Articulating what needs to be achieved, how it will be achieved and who will achieve it by when; which leads to the problem of accountability.
  3. Spending more time on Collecting status than analyzing what should be done to bring more agility in achieving the required growth.

While implementing the Strategy execution tool which qilo offers, I get a chance to work closely with many Strategy executions heads, CEO’s and teams. And the biggest challenge I see is lack of Agile Process in entire Strategy execution. I come from the world of Software and started my journey in developing Softwares in 2003,  when the primary model of developing the software was using the Waterfall model; which means that entire software is developed in one short. And by the time the software is presented to the customers and the consumers of the software, the business requirement were changed and/or software doesn’t meet what customer required from software.

And then came the Agile process of software development, where the team delivers the part of working software to the customer on the weekly or bi-weekly basis. The entire team of software developers and managers are divided into smaller teams who are working simultaneously on various parts of the software, and they interact every morning(called Scrum meeting) to share the status of the progress. The focus is more on working software over processes and documentation. And responding to change is more important than following a plan.

The same principles of Agile Software development can be applied to the Strategy Execution. Both Software and Strategy Execution are intangible in nature and the delay in delivery of both leads to high opportunity cost. By Applying the Agile practice to Strategy Execution, companies can radically improve the execution and outcome which can lead to accelerating growth. The current processes, Strategy Execution tools, and Strategy Execution software that support execution focus on following the plan than on getting the required outcome by working on collaboration cross-functionally.  Many companies across the globe have already realized the potential of applying the Agile practices in the other parts of execution in business and specifically in Strategy execution.

Are you ready for the Agile Execution of your Strategy?

 

Difference between OKR and KPI

CEO’s and companies who want to implement Objective & Key Results(OKR) as goal-setting framework are often in the dilemma on how OKR is different from traditional yearly KPI/goal setting methodology. And Why they should invest in a change that comes with OKR implementation. There must be good reason for implementing OKR over KPI(Key Performance Indicators).

The similarity between them is that both are the goal-setting approach but with different purpose, starting points, and execution ownership.Here are 3 major differences in both the approaches:

PURPOSE

The purpose of OKR is to achieve and improve Alignment and Execution across the company. The purpose is to enhance the accountability. The purpose is to improve the discipline across the company for how we can grow better & probably faster.

The purpose of annual KPI’s/Goal setting is to measure the performance of the individual at the end of the year. At the start of year, KPIs are set and than are put in under the carpet. At the end of the year, dust is removed from the KPI’s and people are asked to prove themselves as how good they have performed against those KPI’s.

STARTING POINT 

The starting point for OKR is the CEO’s/business Annual Operating Priorities(AOP) and/or Strategic growth & innovation priorities.

The starting point of KPI are the Job Description of the person or should I say the role to which that person belongs to or should I say Google.

OWNERSHIP AND WAY OF EXECUTION

For OKR the execution ownership lies with the CEO or COO or Strategy Head of the company and HR.  You have to create a team who understand the business horizontally and a team which can put stretched objectives and the team that can teach people across the company how to set OKR’s which are directly aligned with company’s operational agenda and strategic priorities.

In Objective & Key Results(OKR) framework, you define WHAT needs to be achieved(Objective) and HOW you are going to measure the progress on your Objective(Key Result). The Key Results can be owned by either the Objective owners or team members of Objective owners or team members from other departments. This results in breaking silos and accelerate the execution. Further OKR are agile in nature and are not fixed for year. They gets adjusted based on business conditions.

The ownership to set the KPI’s across the company lies with the HR. KPI’s sit in the silo without any context to an individual as how its impacting the company growth or help in achieving the operating plan. KPI approach worked when the organizations were simple, cross-functional collaboration was not that critical and bureaucracy & hierarchy was the acceptable norm. KPI’s are usually fixed for a year and remains static even if business conditions change.

Summary

  1. Purpose of OKR is alignment and execution, whereas the purpose of KPI is to measure the performance at the end of the year.
  2. CEO or people who understand the business horizontally drives OKR implementation, whereas KPI’s execution are owned by HR.
  3. The starting point of OKR is your Annual Operating Plan or your Strategic Priorities/Themes, where are input to KPI’s are your Job Descriptions.

6 to-dos a day, keeps unproductivity away

I never believed in creating my daily plan, or simply put a to-do list of the day. Its hard to remain disciplined on planning your day. Doesn’t matter how many people/managers or articles or blog post suggested to be a better planner of your day, following it on daily basis is difficult.

Unless you are not working in a system like an army where the organization itself make sure you become disciplined, who cares. But recently after a suggestion from one of the top COO of a company who is our client, I started planning my day by putting down 6 or fewer to-dos that I have to achieve on a day. These are the most important work items I have to finish on that day. And these todos are arranged in the order of priority. That’s it, only 6 or less.

And once these 6 most important things/to-dos of the day at work are finished, post that I allow myself to get distracted by all other things in the world. And the trick is not to jump to 2nd or 3rd to-dos until 1st is not completed. And believe me, at the end of the day I feel much more productive & satisfied at work on that day. Once reach the office, I first thing do is put down these 6 or less most important todos to achieve that day.

Just try to follow this habit for 1 week, every day and see the difference. The most successful leaders/CEO’s I have interacted with till date plan their day. They are way more disciplined on that on daily basis.

 

 

Execution is the Key !

 

The biggest challenge for leaders who drive strategy execution is the lack of visibility on who is executing and who is not. And most importantly building predictability in Achievement. 

Very soon, qilo will be unveiling it’s Navigator feature. Which will empower CXO’s to clearly see the depth of the iceberg!  Whatever Strategy Execution model you use, OKR, BSC, Hoshin. If not executed well is just theory without impact.

Unveiling soon…

What CEO’s want you to do

CEO’s are always busy in making their companies grow to the next level. And an experienced CEO understand that it is his people who will take the company to next level of growth.

But most of the time they are so busy with their schedule in meeting people and thinking what should be done to get required growth that they don’t get time to communicate to their employees, what he wants them to do. And even if he communicates, he is not able to articulate it in a way that an employee can understand and get it. Here are a few points which I picked up while interacting with many CEOs of companies where we have implement qilo.

Understand how your work impacts “Cash Generation” and/or “Revenue Margin”  and/or “Customer Satisfaction”: As a professional, you might be a Subject Matter Expert in your area of work, but unless you understand how your job is impacting the “Cash Generation” and/or “Revenue Margin”  and/or “Customer Satisfaction” in your company, you will not be able to grow in your role and company. And believe me, many people  beyond the senior leadership team don’t understand this.

Example: If you are an HR professional, delayed hiring means delayed execution which means your product/service will reach your customer at a slow pace, which impacts the cash generation for the company. One more example: If you are in operations or delivery teams and responsible for moving the product/service to customer and you deliver a substandard output, it will impact the customer satisfaction which might lead customer moving to your competitor and which impact the cash generation of the company.

Read “What CEO’s want you to know” by Ram Charan

Challenge the Status quo and Come up with Solutions: While the CEO and senior leadership team must put in the effort to make you understand about the business, most of the CEO’s also want their employees to question more about the status quo and ask questions about how business can perform better. The number 1 thing I keep hearing from CEO is that most of the time employees keep complaining about the system(the company). Only few come up with problems which are in place and the solution related to those problems.

Become 1000% accountable:  CEO’s want every employee to understand the importance of being more accountable. Being more accountable means only one person owns the one unit of work(not 2 or 3 together) and that person gets that work done to its last mile. Where most people fail in remaining accountable is when the work to be done needs co-ordination or communication with other people in the same or other teams. And when the status on the work progress or completion is not updated and communicated on the timely and proactively basis.

Be more disciplined at work:  70% to 80% of people in the company are suffering from the “busy syndrome”.  “Busy syndrome” means you are too busy in showing yourself busy.This problem is especially an epidemic in the large companies. CEO want their employees to be on top of their work by understanding what you should be focusing on and executing on daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. And you are planning the things accordingly to execute it. And if you don’t understand it, ask your manager to provide the clarity on what you should be executing. And if your manager is not providing that clarity or he is not capable enough for planning on your behalf, raise this issue to higher-ups or leave that boss.

The number 1 trait of a truly disciplined professional at work is that she constantly focused on “WHAT” needs to be executed that will impact the “cash generation”, “margin”, “company growth” and “customer satisfaction” and “HOW” it can be achieved.

Own your growth: If you want to grow at work or want to learn a new skill or want to get promoted, it’s your responsibility. The company should create the right ecosystem for that, but at the end, if you want to get more money in your next increment you have to own it. Most people stop learning/enhancing their capability that will impact the business & company growth. Your CEO will be far happy to reward you with all those things you want if you impact the “cash generation” and “margin” in a positive way.