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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.

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Creating a shared purpose gives your strategic activities the power to shape your business

Today, the ability to continuously adapt and improve in ways that meaningfully serve your overarching business purpose is one of the most important strategy-making skills. A clear sense of purpose – purpose that’s shared across the organisation –  has the greatest influence on the strategic performance required for thriving in today’s ever-changing business environment.
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How do you bring the all-important ‘Next’ into the ‘Now”?

With all my talk of change as your most formidable competitor, it’s easy to see disruptive forces and the ever-increasing pace of change as the enemy that your business must defeat. But the real enemy of business evolution is not change, but how ‘now’ cripples your ability to focus on what’s ‘next’.

It’s the multitude of forces, both life forces and our genetic predisposition, that keep us anchored in the present – the immediate and urgent – and prevents us from effectively focusing our thinking and activity on the future.

To become the sort of nimble and adaptive organisation that translates strategic aspirations into operational reality, you must be able to take action today. Action that progressively shapes and moulds the business into the future version of itself. You need to be intentional about defeating the forces that stop you from making ‘next’ a part of your ‘now’. Read more

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Strategic planning is easy, it’s strategic execution that’s hard!

Let’s face it, strategic planning takes effort. It requires an investment of time, energy and reasonable capital, depending of the depth of market and competitor analysis included in your strategic planning efforts. However, once the retreats are over and the plans are developed and documented that’s when the really hard strategic work begins – the work of executing the strategy.

It’s hard because one of the rarest elements of a strategic plan is a plan for implementing the plan – a strategy for executing the strategy. A structured means of giving your strategy-making forward momentum.

In this Projectify Point, I talk about the need to incorporate a framework into your strategic planning that turns strategic intent into consistent, persistent strategic activity – activity that generates meaningful strategic progress.

When your strategy-making doesn’t engage your people, the business’s most valuable source of knowledge, capability and capacity is not being brought to bear on the important work of shaping your business for a desired future state. And it’s not being tapped to provide the signals that allow the business to understand where the brightest future might lie.

In today’s fast-moving business world, that can be very expensive – or perhaps fatal – for your business.

How are you giving your strategy life? What are you doing to create strategic forward momentum? How are you ensuring that your people are engaged in its realisation? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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Does the nature of change in today’s environment have your business on the edge of a ‘tipping point’?

As just about every current business book will tell you, the pace of change in today’s business environment is greater than it has ever been. However, this ever-increasing rate of change isn’t unique to the early 21st century. It’s been occurring for several decades. What is unique today is the nature of change – not just the speed of change but also how broadly and deeply change can impact your business.

So, the danger for today’s businesses is that it’s ever-more likely that the pace of change will create a tipping point. A point where, once you’ve fallen behind, it is no longer possible to catch up. That crucial point where if you miss the wave, you can’t paddle fast enough to hop back on.

In the last episode of my Projectify Points vlog, I talked about how change is your most formidable competitor. In this post, I want talk about how the nature of change has shifted to give it a ‘competitive edge’.

How quickly does change enter your market or business?

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Change is your most formidable competition

In my last Projectify Point, I made the passing comment that, today, your greatest competitor is no longer the businesses that do the same things that you do – it’s ‘change’.  In this episode, I want to dig into that idea a bit and how it relates to your strategy-making.

In today’s environment, it is increasingly likely that your most formidable business challenges – as well as your greatest opportunities – won’t come from your traditional competitors. They’ll come from change – changes to the business landscape in which you operate. It’s your most formidable competition in the sense that change now moves with much greater speed and has the potential to create much more profound shifts than your traditional competitors ever could.

How does this idea of ‘change’ being your greatest competitor sit with you? How might it effect your approach to strategy making? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Confusing Strategic Leadership with Operations Management
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Confusing strategic leadership with operations management

If you want strategy-making to help you to be more adaptive and evolve in today’s highly dynamic and uncertain business world…to better connect your people to a shared sense of purpose…then you need to understand what ‘strategy’ actually is. More importantly, what it should be if you are to shape the sort of business you hope to become.

In the first episode of my Projectify Points vlog series, I share my perspective on how the aspirational nature of strategy should make it a perpetual journey into the future – one that has direction but no destination…no end point.