I just finished reading survey responses about strategic priorities from a senior management team. The lack of consistency in their responses reminded of an experience I had on the island of Kerkennah off the coast of Tunisia. (more…)
If your organization is at all on top of things, your production line is lean and mean. The processes used to produce and deliver value for which customers are willing to pay are well-defined and reliable. You measure productivity in widgets per hour and expect 99.9% uptime and nearly zero defects. Priorities are clear. Routines are well-established. Roles are well-understood. Employees know exactly what to do, how, how well, with whom, when, and in what order. When necessary, they make decisions with confidence and without delay because they understand the objectives, options, and trade-offs, they have appropriate authority, and they know where to turn for additional information. In other words, they are Radically Clear. As a result, they are ultra productive. This is the region marked by the letter A on the graphic.
Now consider what happens outside that region. As you move away from production and into ‘The B Zone,’ clarity takes a dive! And with it goes productivity! (more…)
Strategies fail more often than they succeed. Occasionally it’s because they are stupid strategies. Most of the times the cause is a lack of clarity – a lack of specificity about where you are headed, how you will get there, and what must change. Consider these examples of typical failures: (more…)
Did you know that almost no one made the word ‘priority’ plural before the 1950s? Having multiple priorities probably made about as much sense as describing something as ‘very unique.’ Something is either unique or it isn’t. And something is either the priority or it isn’t. Makes sense to me!
Once you have two priorities, what is the priority? And once you have two, why can’t you have three? How about four? Where is the line? (more…)
My husband and I were interested in purchasing a condo when we found out there was a lawsuit against the condo association. We really liked the condo, so we hired an attorney to help us understand the risk. After asking a multitude of questions over the course of several days, our attorney suggested we look elsewhere. “You just won’t be comfortable no matter what,” was his rationale.
He was wrong. (more…)
When I graduated from college, I was not even sort of ready for a full-time job. I saw “real jobs” as a prison sentence that would end my flexibility and steal my chances to travel. Friends proved me right by getting hired and then promptly saying no to every opportunity while they just worked every day and awaited that first week of vacation six months down the pike. So I latched on to seasonal and temporary employment for a year or so instead. I worked at a resort, drove school buses, pumped gas, sold minnows, substituted at the local high school, and tutored the truant officer’s son who refused to go to school. Between times, I moved around, mostly by bicycle. I always made enough to get by. (more…)
One of my great pleasures is working with sharp, knowledgeable, dedicated, and determined leaders and Board members of impressive non-profit organizations. These organizations are almost always doing amazing things, but too often I find them feeling totally strapped and constrained by resources. The staff is overworked and underpaid. Most non-profits walk a fine line between hope and despair.
Financial limitations, and the insecurity that creates, lead to way too much focus on money and the wrong metrics. When you focus on money, you devote most of your time to boosting donations, memberships, and attendance. You constantly brainstorm new schemes to attract more of each. Meanwhile, you don’t care who donates, joins, or attends, as long as those numbers are going in the right direction.
The problem is it does matter where the money comes from. That money, and your considerable efforts to acquire it, control how you use your limited resources. Typical consequences of chasing money include: (more…)
Both the New York Times and Inc. have written about Zappos’ holacracy recently. Why isn’t it working?
Order is essential. You can’t work with other people to produce anything, especially anything of significance, without order. I don’t care if you are throwing a dinner party or building an airplane. Decisions must be made, responsibilities assigned, and plans laid.
In a traditional hierarchy, “the boss” drives the decisions and assignments. A holacracy is an effort to replace the traditional hierarchy with a more flexible, organic, network so different people can assume different roles, including being ”the boss,” depending on the circumstances and their skills and interests. In theory, it sounds great. In practice, not so much and this is why: (more…)