Archive | Strategy

Power of Purpose: How Solid Purpose Generates Strategic Strength


Purpose is one of the most powerful tools organizations have to support strategy. A good purpose places a stake in the ground, declaring what the organization values. It provides flexibility and allows the organization to respond to shifts in the market and customer preferences.

Powerful Purpose Statements

Here’s an example of one powerful purpose:

To transform lives through inspired learning.

This statement is great because it provides both boundaries and flexibility. On the boundaries side, it clearly states that “learning” is the field in which the organization (University of Texas) plays. At the same time, it provides flexibility in how the University provides inspired learning.

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Is Your Strategy Stuck in the 20th Century?

Strategy Battle between Coke & Pepsi

Ah, the good old days. The world was a more stable, predictable place. Companies knew their competitors: Coke had to crush Pepsi. Adidas sought to outdo Puma. Avis vied against Hertz. McDonald’s obsessed about its feud with Burger King.

Amidst this environment, strategy tools proliferated. Your company probably still uses the SWOT Analysis, which was developed in the 1960s.

Perhaps you also use Boston Consulting Group’s popular Growth Share Matrix from the 1970s.

And many rely on Porter’s Five Forces, which debuted in the Harvard Business Review in 1979.

All three of these tools—and many more—were conceived before the internet, before the rise of globalization, and before the rise of mega businesses like Amazon and Tencent.

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Strategy & Resilience Take Center Stage at Partnering Resources

Unexpected turbulence

Organization survival today depends on recognizing and adapting to business environments that bear little resemblance to what we saw five or even three years ago. A quick look at headlines over the past year makes it clear that market-roiling upsets are the new normal:

  • “The Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Means Every Other Retailer’s Three-Year Plan Is Obsolete” (Harvard Business Review, June 2017)
  • “Uber, Lyft Take Down Not Just Cab Drivers, But Also Lenders” (CNBC, July 2017)
  • “While We Weren’t Looking, Snapchat Revolutionized Social Networks” (New York Times, November 2016)
  • “Electric Cars Could Totally Disrupt The Oil Market Within A Decade, Researchers Say” (Fortune, February 2017)

Political upsets have caused similar disruptions; the surprise “yea” vote for Brexit forced many companies to rethink their UK and EU strategies.

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NEW ARTICLE: Realizing the Benefits of True Globalization

Image of world in hands

Many organizations say they’re global. Few achieve the benefits of globalization.

Bayer CropScience (BCS) experienced this conundrum several years ago. Their Global Public & Government Affairs (GPGA) division had offices all over the world, but they usually worked independently. Regions reinvented materials and programs created elsewhere. Lessons learned in one area weren’t shared with others. The benefits of globalization weren’t apparent.

In 2012, BCS hired a new leader, Lisa Coen, who was charged with creating a truly global GPGA organization. She was asked to align headquarters and regions around priorities, goals, strategies, and roles. A new article, “From Regional to Global: Using a Network Strategy to Align a Multinational Organization,” describes how Coen proceeded to transform GPGA into a global organization.

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100+ Tried & True Problem-Solving Tools

Sense making illustration by Kelvy Bird.

Too many leaders choose the wrong tool for the problem at hand. Our infographic, “What’s Your Problem,” explains the four different types of problems leaders face. Once you’ve read it, you may be left thinking: OK, I know what kind of problem I have. What tool do I use?

In this post, we share over 100 tried-and-true problem-solving tools. These are effective and elegant methods that you can use to address the four types of problems.

Simple Problem-Solving Tools

Simple problems have easily seen cause and effect relationships. Your job is to assess the facts, categorize the facts, and then apply the appropriate best practice.

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The Power of “No”: Escape From Overload and Focus on What Matters

<a href="" target="_blank">By DWRose on flickr</a>

One of the most important things a leader can do is to help people stay focused. That means having the courage to say “no.” It also means having the willingness to protect the interests of your organization when people push back.

The Slippery Slope to Overload

People can wear you down by pointing out reasons why the idea can’t work, advocating for initiatives that would be more beneficial, and finding opportunities that could be seized. All of those reasons, initiatives, and opportunities could be important. However, leaders need to weigh the possible benefits against the potential drawback of overextending the organization.

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Tuning Your Change Strategy

Six Ways to Influence Change - JPG

The fifth in the Tried & True Series: Trusted Models that Stand the Test of Time.

Improve likelihood of change success by 10%? Sounds good!

I’m a big fan of the work done by Grenny, Maxfield, and Shimberg on what makes change initiatives successful. According to their research, initiatives are ten times more likely to succeed when the change strategy includes at least four of six approaches.

The trick is to address both people’s motivation and their ability. It’s not enough to want to change. They also have to know how to change. And they can have all the knowledge in the world but, if they don’t want to change, they won’t.

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Free Tool: Project Execution Assessment

Balancing Rocks aeu04117 flickr

The best strategies are simply good ideas… until someone implements them. How well does your organization execute?

Our Execution Assessment measures performance along five critical dimensions:

  • Strategic Clarity – How well has the organization defined the strategy? How will you know you’re successful? How adept is the organization at understanding progress and adapting to changes that affect the strategy?
  • Right Resources – Does the implementation team have the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to succeed? How well have decision making parameters and performance expectations been clarified?
  • Good Data – How well does information about the strategy, progress, and changes affecting the strategy flow between the implementation team and other stakeholders?
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Becoming a Strategic HR Professional

Vision of a Future World by <a href=">Syd Mead</a>

~~ One in an intermittent series about strategic HR. If you have a fantastic story of strategic HR you’d like to see featured here, let me know! ~~

I’ve talked with many people about what strategic HR means. Most people seem confused.

“It’s having a seat at the table,” say some. What the HR professional does once in that seat isn’t clear. Others say it’s about making HR decisions from a financial perspective. In other words, cut long-term employees whose salaries have increased, but who are no longer innovating (while the root causes of lack of innovation go unexamined). Neither of these approaches leads to strategic HR.

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Is your strategy stuck in the 20th century?

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