When I’m not on BART or my bike, I drive a hybrid. Good for the environment. Good for my pocketbook. But, before my hybrid days, I regularly trekked to Tahoe in my gas-guzzling Pathfinder. That sweet ride was “pimped out” with tinted windows, subwoofers and an awesome snowboard rack.
Why the change from my “Pimp My Ride” inspired Pathfinder to a Prius? I became a husband, then a father to two. My priorities and strategy changed. I changed my car and moved from downtown Mountain View to the East Bay.
I willingly made these changes because my strategy and priorities changed. It was intentional and I followed a process to adapt my life around it.
Leaders have to do the same: evaluate priorities, consider value points and costs, and make sure your choices support your strategy. The operational environment and workflows need to adapt to the new objective from decision matrices to meeting cadences. New direction; new ride.
Implementing a new strategy is creating change. Usually, the bigger the change the harder it is to make it stick. Creating lasting change is incredibly complex and nuanced. It requires a mixture of three key elements: great communication, consistent operational rigor, and gamification. I coined it as COG to help with implementation.
Your communication about company strategy needs to be clear and specific about what you want done. This goes from fender to fender – from the C-suite, through all departments, and to every employee.
Your strategy needs to be communicated often and regularly. Anyone should be able to ask any employee, “What is our company’s strategy?” and they could state it unequivocally. You can and should make strategic thinking the norm in your venture.
O: Operational Rigor
Every engine needs regular maintenance. It helps you avoid breakdowns and keeps you humming. Operational rigor comes by empowering leaders (and not just the C-suite) to champion change in initiatives and strategy. Collectively, everyone should see what needs to be done and collectively hold each other accountable. This is positive, not punitive. This shift in operational rigor requires shifting how time is spent. What is a meeting’s purpose, intent and intended results? What is the cadence: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly? How much time is really needed? (Here’s a secret: not all meetings need to be one hour long! Go figure!)
Leaders need to reconfigure the workflow of their organization to suit the strategy and not be stuck in the status quo. Plans and programs should all address the goal of how to best implement it. Everything else is a drain on time and talent. Rethink your workflow with the new strategy in mind.
What a reward to get to your destination safely and swiftly (and for some of us at 50 mpg)! We all love a good pay off. It’s a thrill to compete and win. Leaders need to apply elements of gamification to motivate and reward staff.
When implementing change, you really need to cultivate buy in! Create incentives for your teams working on the new strategic initiatives. Don’t underestimate the power of kudos, recognition, and sometimes tangible incentives (yes, money). Rewards and appreciation are an ideal yin to the yang of holding everyone accountable for embracing new initiatives and reaching new targets. Creating an environment where the new strategy and change is rewarded is a critical piece in making it a lasting change.
Companies of all sizes have to change gears to implement change. If you are looking for more details on how to guide employees through change, check out this excellent Harvard Business Review article: Don’t Just Tell Employees Organizational Changes Are Coming — Explain Why. It dives deeper into helping employees understand change: how, to drive commitment to ultimately contribute to your success.
Companies can know where they want to go and what they want to achieve, but, if they aren’t implementing their strategy to create change, they will hit barriers.
Pathfinder to Prius. Start-up to a top 100 firm. We all create change by implementing new strategies. Buckle up!