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Exploring PROJECTIFY with Mykel Dixon – Sustaining the Strategic Journey

So, your business has carefully created a strategic roadmap and now you’ve embarked on the strategic journey…

How do you sustain that journey? How do you ensure that it remains relevant with a laser focus on your strategic goals? How do you pivot when the strategic landscape changes and you need to respond to emerging issues or opportunities?

The sixth episode of my interview with Mykel Dixon is a discussion about how you maintain the strategic journey. We discuss how the best way to make your strategic endeavours perpetual is to ensure that your strategic projects are not. We talk about how using short-duration projects as stepping stones toward your strategic goals allows you to break those objectives down into manageable, achievable steps. We riff on how it creates an immediacy to your strategic execution that allows it to compete with the daily urgent and important – the business of busyness.

Myke and I chat about the fact that the strategic journey shouldn’t just be meandering in the business wilderness. It should be something that business leaders create forward momentum around. To do that you need to be intentional about not only initiating strategic projects but also bringing them to a powerful conclusion. You need to constantly re-connect your strategic activity to the business value that a nimble, adaptive strategy can deliver.

For individual projects this means declaring clearly defined endpoints from the outset – what strategic outcome you’re looking to deliver and in what timeframe. Importantly, you want the project team to shape this endpoint so they feel a sense of commitment to its realisation. When that endpoint is reached you want to look at it from 3 perspectives:

  1. Look back. Determine if the intended outcome was delivered and what the team learned from its delivery that can be applied in the future.
  2. Celebrate and communicate. Celebrate any accomplishments and communicate the project outcomes more broadly across the organisation.
  3. Move forward. Determine what you do with what the project has told you – do you continue to develop the project idea, do you operationalise it or do you shelve/kill the project because it doesn’t create the business value you’d hoped.

For your overall strategic portfolio – the strategic projects that you’re undertaking at any given time – you want to create a routine where you regularly assess that project mix. You want to ensure that:

  • Your projects have forward momentum and aren’t foundering,
  • The portfolio is made of the projects that represent your highest strategic priorities, and
  • You capture any new project ideas that are emerging out of your strategic activities.

This not only connects the projects your business is undertaking to the strategic outcomes that you want to deliver, it also connects your people to your business’s strategic purpose.

In the remaining episodes of this interview series, we discuss how to lead a projectified strategy-making approach. How to effectively use the strategic journey to shape your organisation and your workplace into the business you aspire to become.

As always, I also hope you’ll share the thoughts and experiences that come from your strategy-making activities – your challenges, your successes and what you’ve learned in shaping your business for the future.

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Exploring PROJECTIFY with Mykel Dixon – Creating A Strategic Roadmap

So how do you effectively initiate your business’s strategic journey? How do you transverse the uncertain terrain of the future business environment? Most importantly, how do you ensure that your people join you on that journey and contribute in a meaningful way?

In the fifth installment of my interview series with Mykel Dixon, we get into the nitty-gritty of undertaking the strategic journey. We talk about the initial steps you need to take to begin projectifying your strategic journey and how to motivate your people to be a part of it. Like any journey it starts with a clear idea of where you’re going and how to get there – it starts with a strategic roadmap.

But strategy-making is not a journey that’s undertaken on well-charted roads and clearly defined paths. As discussed previously, it is a constantly changing journey over uncertain terrain. So this ‘roadmap’ looks more like a topographical map than a Melways directory. Navigating it is more route-finding and exploration than reading street signs and following directions Siri’s directions.

In this episode, Myke and I discuss how an effective roadmap connects the project framework to your strategic intent via the improvement opportunities that will lead you to your long-term strategic objectives. We talk about how creating a strategic roadmap that links the initial strategic steps to your long-term strategic objectives generates intrinsic motivation within your workforce. Motivation that will not only sustain your strategic activities. It will make them more creative, more productive and more collaborative the further you journey into your business’s future.

Putting in place a strategic roadmap that commits your organisation to the strategic journey, yet acknowledges the uncertainty of that journey, ensures that your strategic activities provide valuable insights into the next leg of that journey. It ensures that your strategic resources are invested in the most important activities for progressing your strategic aims. It also allows your people to clearly see how the strategic work they are being asked to do, shapes the future direction of the business and their workplace.

In the upcoming episodes of this interview series, we discuss what you need to do once the strategic journey is underway. How to effectively use that journey to shape your organisation into the business you hope to become.

As always, I also hope you’ll share the thoughts and experiences that come from your strategy-making activities – your challenges, your successes and what you’ve learned in shaping your business for the future.

The Project Framework
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Exploring PROJECTIFY with Mykel Dixon – The Project Framework

What is an effective strategic project – one that will maximise the business’s opportunity to create the future that it aspires to? How to do you create and execute projects so that strategic activity is driving the business forward? How do you, as a business leader, use a project framework to move from managing your people’s resistance to change to enabling your people to adapt the organisation to the change that is all around them?

In the fourth episode of my interview with Mykel Dixon, we dive into these questions and get more specific about how to effectively projectify your strategy-making. We discuss how to create projects that move the organisation from the ineffective world of major transformational change to an environment where your strategic activities drive opportunity – market opportunities for the business and opportunity for the people in the business.

Myke and I talk about how the right types of projects create shared purpose where your people are not just cogs in the machine – asked to contribute to the business’s strategic activities in indiscriminate, uncertain ways – but are given clear line of sight to how their work contributes to the business’s strategic goals. By creating a sense of individual purpose and connecting it to the organisation’s strategic priorities you give these projects meaning. By supporting and enabling your project teams in an intentional way, you maximise the opportunity to deliver those projects successfully – to make strategic progress. As a result, your people are given a chance to see how their work contributes meaningfully to the strategic direction of the business and are motivated to continue making strategic progress.

So, by putting in place the right sort of project framework, you ensure that strategy isn’t just something you have. It’s something that you do as a part of your operational fabric and manifests itself as part of your organisational identity.

I hope you’ve had an enjoyable holiday break and find that the final few episodes of this interview series will provide you with some ‘food for thought’ as you shape your business or team for success in 2019.

As always, I also hope you’ll share the thoughts and experiences that come from your strategy-making activities – your challenges, your successes and what you’ve learned in shaping your business for the future.

 

PROJECTIFY Interview - A Two-Way Bridge
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Exploring PROJECTIFY with Mykel Dixon – A Two-Way Bridge

In this third episode of my interview with cultural architect, Mykel Dixon, we start to explore the crux of projectifying your strategy-making. We discuss how the exceptional businesses of the future will be the product of exceptional workplaces. I talk about how strategic projects are the two-way bridge that can connect a business’s strategic intent and the workplace that will allow that intent to be realised.

Myke and I play with this idea that strategic projects create the opportunity to meaningfully engage a business’s people in shaping its future. Once people see how their endeavours are contributing to that future – progressing the organisation’s strategic aspirations – they become motivated to contribute more and make greater progress. This creates an environment where not only are the business’s strategic goals being progressed in an intentional way, but you’re shaping the sort of workplace where that progress has broad-based engagement and is intrinsically motivated.

In upcoming episodes of this interview series, we’ll dig deeper into some of the fundamental steps you need to take if you want to make your strategic activities part of your operational fabric. Most importantly, we’ll explore some of the opportunities to engage your people in strategy-making that allows your business to constantly evolve and thrive in the shifting business landscape.

I hope you’re enjoying these discussions and you’ll continue to follow along as we explore how projectifying your strategy builds a bridge between the business and your people. A bridge that allows you to adapt at the pace of change and seize the opportunities that change creates.

I also hope you’ll share the thoughts and experiences that come from your strategy-making activities – your challenges, your successes and what you’ve learned in shaping your business for the future.

 

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Exploring PROJECTIFY with Mykel Dixon – An Illusion of Certainty

In this second episode of my interview with cultural architect, Mykel Dixon, we discuss how strategy-making must exist in ‘layers’ if a business is to effectively adapt and evolve in today’s highly uncertain business environment. We talk about how your strategic perspective can’t be a singular focus on high-level strategic objectives. It needs to include the detailed strategic activity that is required to turn those objectives into reality. Importantly, the high-level, medium-term and detailed strategic perspectives should be connected in an intentional way.

Myke and I explore some of the reasons why we get business strategy wrong and how the need to create the illusion of certainty has turned strategy into a static, analytical affair. As a result, most strategic plans become a manifesto for doing what you’ve always done. Their execution then lacks the dynamic qualities that are required to make strategy the force that drives your business forward.

We begin to touch on how meaningful collaboration – rather than purely effective communication – is the power we’re looking to unlock when we projectify our strategic endeavours. This allows you to leverage the strategic foresight of the business’s management team as well as your people’s detailed understanding of the frontlines of business operations.

In upcoming episodes of this interview series, we’ll start to explore some of the key concepts and cutting-edge research that the book is founded on. We’ll discuss some of the fundamental steps you need to take if you want to make your strategic activities part of your operational fabric. Most importantly, we dig into some of the opportunities to engage your people in strategy-making that allows your business to constantly evolve and adapt to the shifting business landscape.

I hope you’ll follow along as we roll out this discussion and see how projectifying your strategy builds a bridge between the business and your people. A bridge that allows you to adapt at the pace of change and seize the opportunities that change creates.

I also hope you’ll share the thoughts and experiences that come from your strategy-making activities – your challenges, your successes and what you’ve learned in shaping your business for the future.

 

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Exploring PROJECTIFY with Mykel Dixon – The Case for Change

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with my friend and colleague Mykel Dixon and explore some of the ideas that sit behind my book PROJECTIFY. In this first episode, we riff about why the pace of change isn’t what makes today’s highly dynamic business environment unique – it’s the pervasiveness of that change. We discuss the perils that exist for business leaders that aren’t intentional about responding to this dynamic and how businesses that are in traditionally-entrenched industries might be at the greatest risk.

Over the course of this interview series, we’ll explore some of the key concepts and cutting-edge research that the book is founded on. We discuss some of the fundamental steps you need to take if you want to make your strategic activities part of your operational fabric. Most importantly, we dig into some of the opportunities to engage your people is strategy-making that allows your business to constantly evolve and adapt to the shifting business landscape.

I hope you’ll follow along as we roll out this discussion and see how projectifying your strategy builds a bridge between the business and your people. A bridge that allows you to adapt at the pace of change and seize the opportunities that change creates.

I also hope you’ll share your thoughts and experiences about undertaking strategy in today’s ever-busier, distracted business world.

 

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Seeing the effect of the progress principle

In my last blog post, I discussed the power of meaningful progress as the driving force behind an engaged and intrinsically motivated team. Specifically, I talked about how Harvard Business School’s Teresa Amabile had uncovered the key to making strategic activity sustainable and self-perpetuating. How, what she calls the ‘progress principle’, creates a upward spiral of creativity, engagement and collaboration that can become the engine of a nimble, adaptive business.

This article generated a few questions that all boiled down to: What does it look like?

How do you know when the progress principle is starting to take effect?

Meaningful progress requires intentionality

It’s probably worth a reminder that it’s not just any progress that generates these motivating effects. It’s meaningful progress that engages people and creates the desire to make more progress.

That means you need to be intentional about creating meaning in the strategic work that you ask your people to do. There should be a clear connection between that work and a strategic purpose that’s larger than their specific activity. You should give your teams the autonomy to pursue that purpose in their own way. And you should provide them with the support and enabling framework that maximises their chance for success – that maximises their opportunity to make progress!

How do you create meaning in the strategic work your people do? How do you connect your strategic endeavors to the organisation’s daily operational world? What are you doing to make progress visible? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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Use meaningful progress to turn strategic intent into business value

I have written and spoken a lot about how effective strategy-making doesn’t just turn strategic intent into plans, it turns it into ACTION – consistent, persistent action that drives adaptation and, ultimately, evolution. But I know it doesn’t take long for the potential enormity of the task to set in. The questions start to come:

  • Whose action?
  • Will people see strategic action as a priority in their already busy days?
  • Once initiated, how do we sustain strategic action?

The answer to these questions, and the myriad of questions that will inevitably follow, is to engage your people in the strategic journey. Do it in a way that motivates them to make meaningful progress – in a way that taps into their ‘intrinsic’ desire to make a meaningful difference. Read more

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Valuing diversity is the key to creating opportunity – for the business and its people

The discussion on ‘diversity’ among senior managers is increasingly expanding beyond social justice to include business performance. The number of executives who cite diversity as a top priority has risen by 32% since 2014 according to a 2017 Deloitte study.  This study also found that increasing the diversity in the business, more fairly compensating that diversity and addressing the under-representation of women and minorities at senior levels in the organisation was viewed as a competitive advantage by 78% of the respondents. Yet, much of the diversity discussion centres around what the statistics tell us about the historical and current ‘state of play’ in the workforce – the demographics.

To move beyond the present and shape a future where the workplace is engaging for all employees and create businesses that are nimble and dynamic, we need to be intentional about ‘valuing’ diversity. Not just pursue demographic diversity but tap into the full range of diverse skills, experiences and perspectives that already exist within your company – the psychographics of your organisation. Read more

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How a project mindset creates strategy that allows your business to evolve at the pace of change

The pace of change in today’s business environment is greater than it has ever been. But this has been true for decades – for a long time, the ‘current’ environment has been more dynamic than ever before. What is different in today’s business world is the pervasiveness of that dynamism. That means the rules are changing because waiting to react in that environment puts you perilously behind, in a race that punishes those who can’t maintain the pace. The question now is not ‘How do I keep up?’ but ‘How do I focus on the future so that I am leading from the front, driving change instead of responding to it?’

The answer is strategy – but strategy redefined. Strategy that is imbued with action. Strategy that is adaptive. Strategy that connects your organisation to its realisation.

Read more