Category Archives: Organization Culture

Too busy for Strategic Thinking and Execution?

In one of the articles published in HBR -96% of leaders believe that strategic thinking and execution will help them grow.

Then what is the reason for not investing time in?

My 2 cents;

  • Integration of Strategic Execution with Daily ops. At business we follow various review mechanisms daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly etc. but with what agenda? We normally discuss, what we all know and pass the buck to the less informed. This agenda distorts the larger picture. Strategy execution is a process that does not work like instant noodles. Ensure that during the reviews ask for progress on strategic projects and set accountability in execution for the same and remember at every instance keep on reiterating the Larger purpose and picture.

 

  • Fear of conflicts – Every leader wants to be liked by all and try’s avoids conflicts with peers and subordinates. Who will bell the cat? Why should I spoil my relationship? Keeps on popping up at the subconscious levels. While framing a strategic plan or monitoring execution someone has to ask tough questions! Do not let your team be a mutual admiration society. Do not let the fear of conflicts affect the growth agenda of the organisation.

 

  • I am too busy syndrome– in organisations, if you don’t act busy; you are perceived not to contributing to the business. Our calendars are packed like vacation bags (where do I find additional space). Hundred of mails to respond, of which 90% of them are in CC. Take a deep breath, and ask how many of them are relevant? The reality is we just don’t want to step out of our comfort i.e. daily execution and think and answer what we are executing, is it contributing to the larger picture?

 

  • Gap between thinkers and doers. Many organisations have this funny thing, create the strategy plan without consulting with people who are executing it. And then the entire year the executors focus will be to tell how shoddy the plan is and the reason why it cannnot be achieved. While the creators keeps on harping on the incapability of teams teams to execute the desired. And the CEO sitting in the corner tearing his hair apart … funny isn’t it.

 

  • Unable to answer what is in it for me – The most difficult question that the CEO has to address to the team members is what’s in it for me is it Money, Gratification, Growth? Or it’s something else like connecting them with your purpose and making them part of achieving it. Do not have the answer, let’s not discuss this.

 

  • The big C – Culture eats strategy for breakfast lunch and dinner. If your orgnisation is suffring from a traders syndrom you need to act fast and like NOW! If your teams belive that creating a stategy execultion plan is a checklist then you will never be able to achive growth. It is a business imparitive that you build a culture, which creates, compete, controls and collaborates. How? in the next blog .. till them happy reading ..

Next time someone when comes to discuss the large agenda or have a plan – take out time to discuss and give importance !! Even if it is crap, appreciate the behavior of people taking initiatives.

https://www.qilotech.com/strategic-planning-and-execution-software

 

 

Are you failing to Execute your Strategic Projects

It’s the department heads and teams under them who takes care of executing companies strategic projects (strategy execution). And these strategic projects are the ones which will in-turn drive companies growth in future. And most of the time these strategic projects & goals are delayed because of the number of reasons. The CEO’s/PMO office struggles to get the work done on these strategic projects; forget about getting them done faster. “Capitalizing on time is the critical source of competitive advantage”.And most of the time, execution is delayed because:

a) No one is focused on how we can shorten the planning loop. Defining -What needs to be done, -How it will be done and -Who will be accountable takes too much time. And the processes & endless meetings take over the actual work to be done.

b) Companies fail to answer “What’s in for me” for the people involved in executing the strategic projects.

In this post, let’s focus more on answering point (b) here – “What’s in for me”.  If as a company, you can answer this question for your people-especially those who are involved in executing these strategic initiatives and projects that “how failed execution is going to impact their growth in the company”, half of the battle is won. This is what Infosys, one of the most respected IT services companies in India did recently.

Infosys has struggled to keep pace with changing times of IT outsourcing model and recent changes in top leadership have lowered the confidence of all the stakeholders in the company. As per a recent article in one of the leading newspapers, now Infosys has linked their leadership performance & bonus directly with the successful execution of companies growth agenda and strategy execution; which is driving revenue from the digital services. Digital services mean providing software services in the area of cloud computing, analytics, IoT, and machine learning. The entire article is worth reading, but the most important line is “measuring growth in digital as a component of executive compensation is a good way to ensure alignment with stakeholder expectations”. 

If you are not as big as Infosys, but still thinking about applying the same concept of linking your people performance with your strategic project execution, here you get one more validation about your idea. But if the thought is that these big company things are not for your company, think again. Or you probably have tried to apply it in your company, but have failed( in this case, qilo can help you).

If your company is also struggling to grow your revenue in your new line of business OR want to introduce a new product/service to market OR want to take your existing product/service to new territories. And your company also fails to go to the next level of growth because your team and department head not taking ownership of your growth agenda with best best strategic planning & execution of projects. If that’s the struggle, then link your team performance & bounces with the execution of your strategic projects. And make sure that this entire performance measurement is data-driven and quantifiable in nature.

Another very important point highlighted in the above article that out of 3 business priorities which are assigned to Infosys’s CEO “Revenue”, “Margin” and “Organization Effectiveness & Development”, how many resources & budget have you put in against enhancing your “Organization Effectiveness & Development”. Taking your company from point B to point C needs investment in enhancing your team capabilities, especially when you cannot have access to the talent which Infosys has.

Summary

  1. Someone if the company should be continuously focused on shortening the planning loop to define WHAT, HOW AND WHO of your strategic growth projects.
  2. Linking the part(please note I am saying only part) of your team compensation with the execution of your strategic growth projects will ensure that your people get the message straight.
  3. Investing in your “Organization Effectiveness & Development” often takes back seat among other top priorities of driving “Revenue” and “Margins”. But your journey of growth will get unlocked only when you invest your resources in your “Organization Effectiveness & Development” too.

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 !!!

https://www.qilotech.com/strategic-planning-and-execution-software

7 Steps to achieve success in OKR Implementation

OKR is a management tool to drive execution on your annual operating plan and strategic priorities.  This goal-setting framework is different from the tradition KRA/KPI goals in a way that the starting point of OKR is your CEO/Company goals, not Job Descriptions and Roles.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

While in theory, the OKR framework looks good, but many companies fail to implement the OKR successfully. Here I am sharing the 7 steps we believe and have seen are critical for successful implementation:

  1. Be brutally honest about why you want to implement OKR?   Is it only because Google or Intel has implemented it? Or is it because your existing business KPI’s are sitting in silos and/or your annual goal-setting exercise is a checklist activity and doesn’t add any value to company growth and setting accountability at work?
  2. Create a core leadership team for implementation. This team should consist of 3 members  (1) CEO (2) Strategy Head/Corporate Planning Head/COO/Marketing Head (3) HR Head. This team should be the one who has the horizontal understanding of your business and company.  And this is the team who will drive and manage the change of implementing OKR across the company.
  3. Get your CXO’s and managers OKR ready: Getting ready for OKR means imparting the training to managers and business heads about what is OKR, how it’s different from traditional KRA/KPI’s, and how it will help the company achieve required focus, alignment and accelerated execution. The primary focus of this training should be to enable the manager to come up with their own OKR’s . Don’t try to push the OKR’s from the top. You should just be supplying the guiding force and contours under which OKR should be created.
  4.  Set the OKR cycle:  The guiding literature around the internet suggest and promote quarterly OKR’s. Which should be the case if your company is disciplined and ready to put the effort at the start of every quarter to create OKR’s. But to start with, we at qilo recommend the 6-month cycle approach. For the first time, set OKR’s for the next 6 months, observer the adoption, quality of OKR and then reduce the cycle frequency to quaterly.
  5.  Set OKR format and timeliness to share the OKR’s : Even if you involve your company in the entire process, people still will forget to share their OKR’s internally. A good format is simple yet powerful in a way that to forces people to make a write inspirational Objectives and quantifiable Key Results. Pro tip: Setting a quantifiable Key result is the key to successful implementation. Your training should help your managers and employee to put in more quantifiable key results that push people to go beyond what they can achieve at ease.
  6.  Communicate the review frequency up-front: This again depends and directly linked with the  OKR cycle.  If your OKR cycle is quarterly, close the cycle with OKR review and probably in the same review, ask the manager and employee to come up with their next quarter OKR’s.
  7. Answer what’s in for me from an employee perspective:  At employee end, what works is (a) greed- the greed of going to the next level and earning more money (b) to bring meaning to their work. As a company when you implement OKR, it can help you to achieve both.

Implementing OKR by taking it as the guiding principle. And the beautiful thing about OKR is it much more meaningful for company, managers, and employees, help you to bring accountability at work and accelerate execution. But remember, what works for other companies might not work for you. You can and should always customize it based on your requirement.

Read this post to check why OKR implementation fails

Goal Setting gone wrong

In most of the companies, goal-setting is done to either achieve one or all three perspectives mentioned below.

  1. To achieve the annual sales targets.
  2. To achieve the annual operational plan and strategic priorities.
  3. To fulfil the annual checklist activity of performance management.

Ever wondered why all 3 works in silos and doesn’t connect with the big picture? Almost all the companies do the exercise of annual sales target setting but do the half cooked job for setting goals to achieve the annual operational plan and strategic priorities. If done right, goal-setting helps you to accelerate growth, bring alignment and accountability across the organization.

If your goal are not the guiding force of your day to day work, they are not the goals, but just a formality.

There are various goal-setting frameworks that a company can opt to drive their sales, operations and strategic plan. 3 of the major goal setting frameworks that are widely used are:

  1. Hoshin Kanri
  2. Balanced Score Card
  3. OKR

Hoshin Kanri

Hoshin Kanri (also called Policy Deployment) is a method for ensuring that the strategic goals of a company drive progress and action at every level within that company. This eliminates the waste that comes from inconsistent direction and poor communication. Hoshin Kanri strives to get every employee pulling in the same direction at the same time.

It achieves this by aligning the goals of the company (Strategy) with the plans of middle management (Tactics) and the work performed by all employees (Operations). The 4 steps for Hoshin Kanri are:

Hoshin Kanri Step 1: Clarify your current state and identify Mission, Vision, and Behaviours

Your company’s Vision and Mission statements are a good place to start if they have been well written and are still relevant. Answer these questions to help you identify your vision, mission, and behaviors

Mission: Why do we exist as a company? or How is the world a better place because of us?

Vision: Where do we want to be in the future (5-15-30 years)

Behaviors: What are the behaviors that you and your employees should be living by on daily basis to achieve your mission. These behaviors are different from the values which live on your website.

Hoshin Kanri Step 2: Define Breakthrough Objectives (Hoshins)

The breakthrough objectives are mission-critical objectives. These objectives may take 3-5 years to fully accomplish.A few good questions to ask your team to get to these Breakthrough Objectives are:

Q1. In 3 years from now, if we look back on what we have accomplished from now till then, what is the biggest, most significant accomplishment we could achieve?

Q2. What is the single most important objective we need to accomplish to remain competitive 3-5 years from now.

Hoshin Kanri Step 3:  Define Annual Objectives (Goals & Metrics)

Breakthrough Objectives should then be broken down into Annual Objectives. These annual objectives are the basis for your departmental and even individual annual strategic plans.

Hoshin Kanri Step 4: Deploy Annual Objectives through the organization (Catch-ball)

Cascading your goals is a powerful and important part of Hoshin Planning. Each Annual Goal or Objective must be broken down into specific goals and projects for each functional group or team. It is only when each team member has a challenging yet achievable goal that they can see how they contribute to the overall Hoshin Plan.

Balanced Score Card

KPIs traditionally have had a bias by measuring past costs, revenues, and profits but offering little insight into how an organization was likely to perform in the future. Robert Kaplan and David Norton’s balanced scorecard framework, introduced in 1992, revolutionized how businesses connected KPIs to the company’s broader mission. The balanced scorecard, incorporating financial and nonfinancial measures to guide operational and strategic goals achievement.

If you’ve ever seen the Balanced Scorecard in action, you’ll know it’s essentially a strategic framework, divided into four areas (called “perspectives”) that are critical to business success.

OKR(Objective & Key Result)

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a management tool that brings in the discipline to achieve excellence in execution aligned with organization and CEO’s priorities. OKR is a goal setting framework originally created by Intel and later adopted by Google in the way back in 1999 when it had had not even celebrated its first birthday. OKR has supported Google’s growth from 40 employees (when it first started using OKR) to more than 60,000 today, proving that it can be used by small organizations as well as large corporations. Today, both technology and non-technology companies are moving fast to leverage OKRs to enable a high-performance work culture.

Here are a few examples of what objectives could be:

1)  Reduce the variable cost in production by 2.5 %.
2)  Increase revenue from product X by 10%.
3)  Become a more effective sales machine.
4)  Move to the new office by December end to provide a happy environment to employees.
5)  Solidify brand and position as market leader.

And following are some example of ‘Key Results’ with respect to above-stated objectives. There can be more than one key result(s) that can define how one will achieve one’s objectives.

1)  Hire a consultant to review and improve the six-sigma process.
2)  Ensure at least 75% of the sales team members achieve their quota.
3)  Hire three sales managers by end of June.
4)  Identify an office that facilitates company and employee growth for 250+ employees.
5)  Hire a new branding agency by end of Q1.

Whatever goal-setting framework you are selecting, expecting it to work out magically and contribute towards your company growth without the involvement of your leadership is naïve. At qilo, we have seen many implementations succeeding when leadership from the CEO to every business gets involved, and many fail when you implement these frameworks just for the sake of implementing it because someone else is also doing it.

 

Why have we made Performance Management Complex?

When we started qilo, we had only one Purpose in mind- how can we make Organizations Perform Better?

During this journey meeting with hundreds of CXOs across the globe, one unifying theme that came out – THE only matrix of Performance which matters is Company Performance if that is not happening rest all is just execution with zero results.

So, if this is the main agenda then what is the reason for the disbelief amongst CXOs and employees is the way Performance Management process is executed?

Here are my top reasons why companies are struggling in this.

1) Lack of Alignment; on company’s goals with teams and individual’s execution. How many of us know the execution we are doing every day is contributing to companies goals and it’s growth?

2) Ownership of the Process; Performance management is one job which no one want’s to own and is passed to HR who is not the right owner. Performance management has to be designed, owned and executed by business. HR plays an important role which is organization capability building and design and it has to stick to that only, doing interventions on low performers and transforming them.

3) 1980,s style of Management. While things around us have changed, some of our management practices haven’t changed, not going to debate, why? Today we need Agility in organizations and our MBO driven industrial style of managed limits that. Perhaps we need to rewrite few of old schools management books, which were written by executives of GE, Ford etc.. relevant in that era not NOW! 

4) Culture– Haha! Another monkey which has no takers. We all want to build High Performing Culture, and what do we do to drive this? Make cool offices … Culture is built on the foundation of purpose and vision. Things we put as posters on the wall and are discussed during induction!! (Pun intended) There is only one person responsible for culture -CEO! Accountability starts from his office. We take about open work environment but don’t trust employees while sharing Strategy, numbers.

5) Technology – Companies have invested heavily in capacity management, sales, and financial software. What about business alignment? As an organization, we want everyone to go beyond their role, your technology is binding them in ‘roles’ and giving a clear message it’s not my job, why bother? 

6) Communication – An organization that talk’s get talked about. The sheer concept of communication misleads us; every engagement survey throws out lack of communication in an organization and what we do post that -Town Hall or employee newsletter. We need to understand what communication means. What the employee is seeking is very simple- where are we going, how can I help and how am I performing? Rest all is gibberish and that’s the reason why a stupid question like cafeteria food comes often in Town Halls. Managers have to own communication on performance while CEO is aligning on vision and direction.

7) Going beyond frameworks – Business management frameworks like OKR, BSC, Hoshin Kanri are amazing guiding principles, don’t make them Holy Grail, use them as guiding principles and build your strategy execution customized to your needs around them. Cascade them in teams, unifying them with Objectives, not Roles!!

My learning so far is that; when the leadership has the intent and wants to make people accountable for Performance, Organisation’s Culture and Execution goes to the next level.

Rest all plans for the next QBR to identify the reasons and necks for failures.

On a parting note – Just ask one question to yourself, does your organization have 4 Objectives or 400?

Cheers – Do share your views …