Brand companies are brilliant as painting a picture of what they stand for, what they want to be and how they intend to get there. Not all organisations are brand led businesses though and many lack clarity on these important factors.
This is not to say boards do not know where they are going. Many just muddle through, take the pay-check and celebrate that 2-3% gain each year in shareholder value. Boards will charge the executive team to deliver the plan. This is a critical juncture.
It is at the executive management level where the plan gets delivered or gets destroyed. Either the executive managers work together to cascade the plan down through the organisation or they systematically disassemble the board plan to the inevitable failure.
Sadly the evidence points to senior leaders not being aligned on the organisation strategic priorities. In a 2018 HBR briefing "Unite Your Senior Team" it refers to an MIT survey of 4,000 managers finding that only 28% could list three of their organisations top strategic priorities.
This is a staggering failure.
If you’re sitting on the executive management board you need to know what you are going to do to meet the plan set by the board. If you don’t like the plan then you should get off the bus. If you agree with the plan then you need to get behind it and put the actions in place to make it happen. Now this is where it gets tricky… (boards take note). Your strategy is likely to not be understood 2-3 layers down from you. These are the layers that are doing the doing to get your plan implemented.
We challenge you to test this out. In your organisation corridors, in the lifts or on the escalators ask people who work in your company what the board plan is and how they are helping make it happen. You’ll be disappointed with the answers. We believe that your people will not understand what their contribution needs to be to the organisation.
Why is this so bad?
Boards can spend millions of $$$ on defining the direction of the organisation and plan to get there
Dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of people might be pointed in a direction other than that of the board…
Thousands of wasted hours can be consumed on the wrong activities
It happens due to:
Misalignment of executive management to the board
Misalignment of personal goals to corporate goals
Some executive managers can’t seem to cascade the plan down or translate it into workable actions for their teams to deliver on
You just know this is happening. How many times have you sat at lunch and heard a colleague or a member of the client organisation snigger about the boards next big plan, or the lack of the plan. Where there is smoke there is fire we say.
This needs to happen today:
When the annual survey comes in and your people don’t understand the direction… then fix this quickly
Ask your management to tell you what they are doing that does not directly contribute to the plan, then re-align your expectations
If individuals in your team cannot articulate what their contribution is to the plan (after communications, training, coaching) then exit them
The British have a saying “you’re either on the bus or off the bus”. Work out quickly if those apparently on the bus, are on your bus.
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