Archives for posts with tag: strategy

Hey folks I’m back!

After a short time of illness, I’m ready to pick up the metaphorical baton again and sprint toward the finishing line of improving your understanding of what really works and doesn’t in the world of strategic management.

This week I want to talk to you about corporate strategies. What are they?  Well, in my career I’ve been involved in several of these and generally speaking they’re a means through which a company tries to appear to itself and indeed to others that t knows what it’s doing. Often great efforts are made, a prolonged consultative process, based on large amounts of second rate analysis, and a hellish drafting process results in a document that is of so little value that it is placed on a website, shelved in the CEO’s office and those of the senior managers, but quickly forgotten by everyone who had the great misfortune to be involved.

God bless strategic planning!

Like all strategies or plans, it becomes irrelevant through the actual process of creating it – just setting it down on paper seems to have an almost supernatural ability to render it completely irrelevant and useless. Why is this? What’s going on here? What can we learn from this?

Well the first thing to learn is that some things in business are better left unspoken, especially if they’re already working quite well in an organic and unintended organization (most medium to small companies).  Suddenly trying to capture and codify all of that (vision, mission, objectives, indicators, projects and programme with outputs and deliverables and all that jazz) forces individuals to suddenly face up to these issues and choices, realizing in the process that they are so far removed from most of their peers, both in their thoughts and attitudes, that their confidence in the very company is shaken and they regard to strategy as a manifesto of the stupids.

And so the plan, the strategy, whatever it is, is rejected by its authors, forgotten, and everyone forgets or rejects it for a different reason. But that’s not important, the important things is that most people on the organization will want nothing to do with it.  There will be exceptions of course, many companies have an Ivy League poindexter who will wail and moan about your failure of manage the strategy, you may also have something even worse, the autodidact who got his MBA online and grasped all the details but say none of the big pictures – he/she’ll drive you crazy too.

So what’s to be done?

The secret is to go with the flow, remember what you value about your work, remember what you care about and get up in the morning for, and screw everyone else and their plans.  You don’t need plans to get results, you need winners.

Be a winner, not a planner.


That’s right, we’ve all been there, you look around at the people working under your management one day and realize that for the most part they’re losers who’ll never make anything of themselves.

Ok… I exaggerate a little but most managers will admit there is some truth in this and…. now I have your attention losers!

So what does this mean for talent management in your organization and how can you ever hope to fulfill a meaningful leadership role when these people clearly don’t even care about themselves very much and they’re apathy is infecting you and everyone around you?

Well, as those of you who’ve worked with me before will know, the WINCAN technology (managing the interface between talent and complexity, innovation and strategy) answers many of these problems, but a blog is not the place to get into those or for me to harp on about WINCAN.

Let’s just take a basic look at what it means if you’re a manager who feels his/her staff are unworthy of your leadership, what are the key questions?

1. Did you recruit them yourself?  Let’s be honest many times leaders and managers take over a team and decide that they’re all worthless nobodies because they’re replacing someone who had fundamentally different professional values and priorities and built a team in that image as a reflection of their own vision of how a team should and can work. You may be quite different and if this is the case I urge you to seek the help of a HR professional for some expert tips on turning things around.  The most important take-away though is that you should take the time to turn things around because if you do, the loyalty they will have for you will greatly exceed that which you can hope to get from a new recruit!  it’s also a great challenge and real leaders love challenges!!

2. Could I be projecting my own feelings of insecurity and phoniness onto them?  This is surprisingly common so take a look at yourself and see if there’s even a grain of truth in this. Many leaders reach middle age and experience something of a trough, I myself experienced one when I briefly worked in biotech in South East Asia in the late 90s.  Maybe, like me back then, you are really just in the throes of a midlife crisis and an existential/professional (is there a word for the place where these two things combine – future blog post perhaps) dilemma. Maybe your negative feelings about yourself, bubbling under your that thick crust of managerial machismo, are causing you to project your anxieties and fears about yourself onto your staff. It happened to me! It was only after a huge argument with one of my less-important domestic staff that I began to see sense but by then things had gone too far and no-one was receptive to my team bonding sessions.  Be a better guy than me and don’t let it get too far!!

3. Can I still lead them and if so how? Let’s say you’ve given this a lot of thought and even sought out a second opinion (an expert, not someone in a bar – I’m looking at you Bob!) and you’re as sure as can be that they’re a pretty useless bunch – totally unsuited to the tasks at hand, is there anything can be done?  Yes, of course you can fire them and in many cases this is the best thing to do, as a leader you main job is to lead irrespective of whether the people you’re supposed to be leading are inclined or capable of following.   Many of you may be reluctant to fire some or all of then in the current economic climate and in this situation you should consider innovative approaches to identifying the source of their idiocy and redirecting it at each other rather than at work tasks (I’ll have another blog post soon on how exactly to do this, there’s also a chapter in my forthcoming book).  It sounds fantastical but with a good HR strategy you can redirect their inefficiencies toward their personal and social lives within just a few months.

I hope that’s given some of you ideas, this is a common problem these days with so many mid-level leaders switching around in a few key sectors where personal style plays such a big role in shaping the culture and ethos of small (<25) teams.

I’d love to hear any thoughts/comments/experiences!