Robin Speculand and I go way back — I do not want to count the years but it is more than 20. He is in Singapore and we have collaborated and shared ideas from our different perspectives for a long time. More recently, however, we have been drifting closer and closer and his recent work is aligning more and more with my thinking about people and performance.
Robin is a recognized thought leader in the issues surrounding Strategy Implementation. Like me, he runs a tight ship and a small leading-edge company. I publish a lot more of my ideas and he publishes books and gives presentations. And his recent work is such that I take the initiative of re-publishing some of it before he has even published anything!
His recent work is titled, Implementation Best Practices from High Performing Leaders and it is based on his surveys and presentations and consulting. So, knowing that we start from the same place in our thinking of how organizations need to align themselves to implementing improvement, I thought to get a jump on things and publish some excerpts here before he even has it on his implementation website!
Robin’s model incorporates eight different segments, what are called People, Biz Case, Communicate, Measure, Culture, Process, Reinforce and Review. What he does in his paper is list some of the key traits and competencies that the outstanding leaders incorporate into their strategy implementation and improvement frameworks. It is a highly readable document so I read and reacted and summarized some of the content with a few bullets:
- Without people engagement, implementation will fail.
- Within the culture, leaders must identify the right activities to build awareness.
- Leaders do not implement strategy, their people do.
- There needs to be an understanding of what needs to change and why.
- Successful implementation is about continued, visible support, Leaders don’t implement it, they oversee it.
- While strategy is designed at the top of the organization chart, it gets implemented from the ground-up.
- People resist change done TO them, not change in which they are participants.
- Getting off to a good start is a lot better than trying to recover from a bad one.
- Every organization’s culture is different and therefore their implementation is unique.
- Strategy cannot be implemented if it cannot be understood and it cannot be understood if it cannot be explained.
- Translating strategy into the business means examining what needs to change in the way people do their work.
- When leaders don’t synergize between the strategy and processes, staff members end up continuing to work the old way, using old systems, structures, and processes that is extremely frustrating, annoying and even demoralizing. All the while they are expected to deliver different results!
- It is not just any staff members who are part of a redesign team but it must be your top performers, as they are the ones who really know how the process works. The hands-on people know, the staff think they know.
- The leaders are responsible for giving staff members the ability to implement, both real and perceived. They must create time, for example, by eliminating work that is no longer value added; provide budget to support the new strategy; create the space for individuals to discuss and reflect on the implementation; make it socially acceptable to participate and encourage individuals to break old habits and adopt new ones.
- Individuals pay attention to what their immediate boss pays attention to. Leaders must ask, “What have you done this week to implement the strategy?” in order to expect people to do things differently.
Robin and I are working together on a few things around improving organizational effectiveness and I hope that my ideas and frameworks will help Robin make his tools even more effective. He has been using my Square Wheels cartoons for “spot color” in some of his programs and presentations and he has been using my team building game, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine for some of his executive awareness work.
My goal is to package up my new game, The Search for The Treasures of Gobekli Tepe, as more of an executive development exercise with a solid anchor to the strategy implementation side of things so that we can use Dutchman more for the implementation rollout and the Square Wheels for the specific tools to use to improve communications between the supervisors and workers, something to improve engagement.
Dutchman works and it is nice to have Robin as a friend and colleague who supports my work.
At some point, Robin will get all this work up and online. I will update then.
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.