SMART Culture Transformation
I have seen it over and over again. Most strategic change fails. When I interview leaders their most common complaint is that although they know what to do next… they just can’t get their organization to do it. We are all experiencing this new age of ferocious competition and disruptive change. For businesses to grow and thrive they must become agile.
But the modern corporation was not designed for agility; it was designed for efficiency. For the past 20 years almost all the emphasis on internal operations has been to systematize and automate to remove variation and drive costs out of the business. It made sense in a less disruptive age, but clearly that strategy has run out of gas.
Business success today is defined primarily as growth. And growth comes from innovation, agility and lightning fast execution. Organizations that are good at this have high “strategic velocity,” but mostly strategies never get off the launch pad.
The reason for corporate constipation is simple. Most corporate cultures are not designed to be agile and entrepreneurial. They’re designed to minimize risk which is ironically the worse risk of all.
What I see most leadership teams do in the face of their own bureaucracy is put more and more pressure on individuals to perform. The reason is that most leaders believe that when the system is broken only individuals can fix things. This is a very tempting response because it feeds into our idea of “just work harder” leadership. However the results are unsustainable. Your best people get burned out. mistakes are made, and the culture devours your strategy.
The only answer is creating an agile culture. Now that change is constant there is no new business as usual. It’s as if football, which allows for huddles and coaches to call every play, has suddenly changed to basketball in which every player plays offense and defense in a constant flow of strategic adjustments. You will simply never win if your people are not playing the new game.
The problem is that no one has trained your players to excel at the new game. Simply telling employees that someone’s moved the cheese is a dreadful cop-out. The job of senior leaders is far more important than that. It’s to create conditions where people can both focus and create, where they can both collaborate and act independently, and above all where they can learn and succeed. That’s the substance of corporate agility.
It is not easy to quickly establish an agile culture. Yet, fast culture change is critical because slow culture change simply does not work. This is what does:
SMART Culture Change
SMART Culture Change works fast. The biggest driver of a positive culture is consistent progress. When failure and disappointment are continuous, people begin behaving badly. Inevitably a culture of blame starts to drive the business conversations inside an organization, which accelerates declining performance.
The only thing that can pull you out of a crash dive is to start achieving relevant goals. It’s amazing how success inspires people to behave better… collaborate, innovate and execute. In helping large organizations start climbing I initiated six imperative actions:
- Create leader unity around your organization’s leadership mandate. This follows a proprietary process called SMART Business Logic that lays out the new path to success for all employees to easily understand. It’s critical that all five elements of this business logic are articulated. This is where most leaders go wrong. When employees don’t understand or don’t agree with your leadership agenda failure is inevitable.
- Leadership training of all vice-presidents and above using the 5-STAR Leadership model and the 5 Habits of SMART-Power Leaders is the fast, practical way to get everyone solving relevant problems and seizing high-impact opportunities to create the unity of action needed to succeed. 21-day challenges get everyone used to making fast progress on critical goals using three weeks three weeks cycles.
- High Potential Project Leadership is leading training and coaching for your highest potential leaders of the future. To increase innovation to execution velocity it is critical to use your most talented people in roles traditionally handled by staff project managers. Men and women will gain invaluable experience as they put SMART-Power skills to use to get your organization’s most vital work done.
- Hands-on executive level coaching by my small team of experienced coaches is vital to make sure that your leadership remains united, issues are quickly dealt with and momentum is accelerated.
- Supercharge Your Career & Work Like A Genius training is for all employees. This half-day of training is followed by a year of weekly 3-5 minute video tips and skills. The video tips are designed to increase employee responsibility for their career development, increase mental focus, inspire commitment, collaboration, and develop high initiative.
- Genius Groups are employee peer groups that meet at lunch once a week to discuss professional and personal development topics presented in the Work Like A Genius video series. Peer learning and support is vital to building social reinforcement for positive behavior change.
If you are frustrated by a slow-moving culture unable to execute new initiatives it’s time for SMART Culture Change.