Archive for August, 2013

Reduce Decision Anxiety

August 26, 2013

coffee

Amazon.com  offers more than 25 million book titles. Baskin Robbins used to boast 31 flavors, then they sold 100. Cold Stone Creamery claims 11.5 million ways to have “your” ice cream. Starbucks has identified 87,000 drink combinations.

These appeals to personalization may work well in marketing consumer goods. But, the vast range of variation can also overwhelm. Do you, your colleagues or teams ever feel swamped?

The volume of data and options involved in efforts to create strategies, generate forecasts, prepare communications, support evaluation or other common functions makes getting to decisions tough sledding. Research has shown too many choices generates significant anxiety. In fact, it creates pressure, frustration, and paralysis.

Coping With  Volume

Creating an environment for success means support for decision-making. Coping with information overload is an important responsibility for managing and leading. To start, ask these questions:

  • What are the priorities this decision must satisfy?
  • What can I do to simplify the information I have and need?
  • What are the patterns in data?
  • How might the data be categorized?

When faced with complexity, try these three actions:

  • At the start, reduce the total number of alternatives
  • Identify, understand and explain variation among alternatives
  • Engage expert review and recommendations to offer perspective

These questions and actions help focus the “infolanche” we face in our work.  Help your team  manage frustration and make great choices.

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social 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

Strategic Camps

August 15, 2013

Great strategy is key to creating public or private value.

It helps us with fundamental decisions and actions that shape what any organization is, does and its rationale. Strategy supports results in both the private and social sectors.

Recently, an influential client wanted better strategy to more effectively distribute hundreds of millions in capital. As a small part of our assignment, we helped them reflect on their current strategy development process.

The graphic below, based on analysis by leaders at Booz & Company, maps the history of strategy. This landscape is informed over time by more than a dozen strategy “giants,” experts like Deming, Hamel, Porter, Kim, and Zook.

strathistFINAL

It shows four general camps of thought regarding strategy: adaptation, position, execution and concentration. Each has strengths and challenges. They represent an evolution in thought. The x-axis represents strategy authors. The y-axis is a time orientation focus.

In a practical exercise, we asked each senior executive to identify which quadrant they relied on most to prepare strategy for their program plans and associated budgets. The scatter of dots offered fodder for an important conversation. It supported questions, like:

  • What rationale informs the choice of your “primary” camp?
  • Where would others place their orientation to strategy development?
  • Why is there variation among the camps?
  • What are the strengths and limits of camp features for your context?
  • Should the organization act from the same camp? Why or why not?

As you consider improvements, understanding your current strategy development process is an important step. The historical evolution of camps can certainly inform a  hybrid. Given emerging and powerful factors like data, technology and innovation, there’s no question future camps are forming now.

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social 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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