Archive for July, 2012

10 Good Questions on Strategy

July 30, 2012

We all face external factors that change fast, frequently and unpredictably. Regardless of sector, work is intensely dynamic. Are your strategy development and related planning processes responsive enough?

Re-tool and Refine

Strategy marshals the resources and actions that enable an organization to secure intended results. Strategy is crucial to the decisions that guide any program or organization. More and more, experts suggest the effort on strategy should equal that spent on operations. Getting strategy “right” matters a lot.

Analysis, Inclusion, Speed

Old routines, inadequate sensing, biased inputs, erroneous assumptions, poor timing, delays and other complexities in strategy development can severely limit program and organizational potential. Creating a clear, disciplined process for strategy that considers diagnosis to commitment, execution and assessment is fundamental. Better strategy and strategic management values analysis, inclusion and speed.

Strategy Development

Here are ten good questions to use as you retool strategy to improve performance:

  • What outcomes define success for your organization?
  • Who holds responsibility for strategy?
  • What are your key issues, critical decisions, data and uncertainties?
  •  What framework exists for colleagues to inform, develop, implement and revise strategy?
  • How are strategic priorities named and resources allocated?
  • What internal communications are used to effectively express strategy and related plans?
  • How are cross-organizational projects handled?
  • Are savvy, fast decisions made through clear processes to support strategy?
  • How are directors/trustees and partners involved in the development and execution of strategy?
  • How is the implementation of strategy and related plans tracked?

Lisa Wyatt, Ed. D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillip Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See : www.pwkinc.com

Courage In Your Quiver

July 8, 2012

Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 19,300 feet, is Africa’s tallest mountain. For experienced climbers, it’s a very tough challenge. Last month, over an eight-day journey, American citizen Spencer West used his arms and hands to propel his torso up the mountain. What does it take to summit without legs?

Born with a genetic disorder call sacral agenesis, West’s legs were removed below his pelvis at age 5. “Reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro was the most the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever done,” said West. His efforts raised more than $500K for Free the Children which will use the funds to provide clean water to hundreds of thousands struggling from the worst Kenyan drought in 60 years.

Redefine Challenges

West called his quest Redefine Possible. In news accounts, he asked:  “If I enter life without legs and climb the largest mountain in Africa and overcome that challenge, what more can you do in your daily lives to define what’s possible for you? We all have the ability to redefine what’s possible – whether you’re missing your legs or not. Everyone has challenges and challenges can be overcome.” Training for the climb required more than a year of preparation.

West’s example is inspiring. We’ve all been a witness to others who press on despite obvious handicaps. My own brother, at 30, was robbed and viciously assaulted while on a business trip. His severe head injury required years of rehabilitation to be able to walk, eat and talk, again. Despite aphasia and paralysis, he is a productive, capable, and funny guy with a terrific family.

Courage Counts

There are many factors that contribute to accomplishment despite challenges. What’s common in these two examples? Courage. It is the mental strength to face risks, danger, uncertainties and pain without succumbing to fear. People with mettle, resolve, pluck, or courage choose to persevere.

The most effective leaders and managers are brave. They are clear in principle and undaunted. While you may not have the burdens of physical limitations, it’s highly probable you have political, social, economic, and other obstacles.

Robert Kennedy left us a good benediction in this matter: “Few are willing to brave the disappointment of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of society. Moral courage…is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to transform a world which yields most painfully to change.”

When things look impossible – think about a man who climbed a very tall, rugged mountain without legs and feet. Offer your colleagues renewal through encouragement. And, be sure to put courage in your quiver!

Lisa Wyatt, Ed. D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillip Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See : www.pwkinc.com


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