Reality, choices and alignment.

It’s all I want in the companies I work for. Yet I see very little of it.  To me, all the management and strategy jargon out there just complicates things.

Reality.

Reality is important because it frames your worldview. Time and time again I see senior people ignore reality. You want some examples? RIM:” no seismic change” required? Hello, dude you are screwed!! ‘manage decline”, what kind of obscene statement is that? I mean first up, you are basically stating it’s ok to loose, worse that you have some magic trump card that allows you to control market shifts.  This is poison because your staff know its total rubbish and it sets people up for failure. . . . trust me I’ve seen people try to do this for years and I can attest to the fact that any ‘management’ of decline only happens in the minds of strategists and accountant. The rest is luck.

Choice.

People think they make choices every day, but the reality is they do it without fully considering the true impacts.  Take global warming, its is kind of hard to ignore the fact base that it is happening. At a personal level i don’t think people understand what they do to contribute or change this, they haven’t really had the choices explained to them….

Combustion of one US gallon of gasoline produces about 19.4 pounds (8.8 kg) of carbon dioxide (converts to 2.33 kg/litre), a greenhouse gas.[4][5]

Did you know that? that is a lot of C0!!!. How about wording the choices this way.. “you can keep driving your car and contributing to the pollution of the petri dish we call home, or you can find alternate transport, you choose”

Cigarette smoking – “you can keep smoking cigarettes, but you know that it causes all sorts of bad stuff to happen and if you get sick because of it, there won’t be any government or private health insurance to support you”

Business – man, so many examples ( dilbert lives on this stuff)

“We can’t decide what we are going to do” (which is a form of non-choice),  the impact of this is there is no guiding principles to make good choices about so companies will attempt to deliver everything… which means nothing gets done and everyone is unhappy

“we need to change, become more agile and cost effective”, but we will do this with the existing processes and cost base…. without a plan to address process and cultural overheads, this just won’t happen

“…most often the very skills that propel an organization to succeed in sustaining circumstances systematically bungle the best ideas for disruptive growth. An organization’s capabilities become its disabilities when disruption is afoot.” – Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Solution

“We need to be more innovative”, so you either choose to learn about / invest in innovation, sponsor, support and nurture new projects …or don’t.  One of these approaches has much more chance of success than the other

“you can launch that new thing, but you need to avoid canabalisation”   you just choose to waste your time and money. That new thing ain’t going anywhere. Good companies (like Apple) acknowledge canabalisation, then don’t get stopped by it because its actually just part product lifecyle

Another choice “lets cut costs but culling headcount” but we will do it before / without fixing the underlying systems and processes, all this means is that a smaller number of people are going to end up doing the same amount of work….  With the obvious results in output, quality and staff satisfaction…

Finally a segway into alignment “we want focus, here are five separate targets. “

Alignment .

Getting the company in motion, by ensuring that everyone is working in the same direction…. Sound so simple, but so often it never happens.

Multiple targets – a recipe for disaster… classics include hit your revenue and EBIT targets… or how about maintain share and price? Sound familiar?

What about different parts of the business being aligned? How many of you out there have given operations a cost reduction target while simultaneously giving product or sales an uplift? This causes conflict at best, it also hamstrings your growth. Some managers call this ‘healthy tension”… which is management school bullocks for misalignment

Finally my personal favourite piece of target tripe… manage decline in legacy business (ie maintain the status quo as best are you can) while simultaneously driving radical simplification…. That’s like saying go to war but don’t use guns … what are you supposed to do? Batchslap them into submission?  Have them laugh themselves to death by showing them your impossible targets?

Combine reality, true choice and alignment and you get simplicity and organisational alignment. Trust me (most) people have decent BS meters. They will naturally see if a plan, driver or goal is aligned with what they are targeted with or are doing. To quote Jason Jennings “in great companies everyone knows the strategy, and everyone thinks and acts like an owner”