Silence is the path to our best possible future

Recently, I was rehearsing the closing of my DIVERSIFY keynote and – for the first time in a long time – I connected to the meaning of the words that makes it one of my favourite songs of all time. I re-affirmed – for myself – that valuing diversity means creating the space for everyone to have a voice but not remaining silent when there are those that try to take that voice away.

Rather than trying to hit the right notes (that are clearly at the edge of my vocal range!) I engaged with the powerful emotions that make this version of the song* so poignant in the world in which we all find ourselves…and that our children might inherit.

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It’s Monday morning and you want to start projectifying your strategy, but then the questions start to come…

Where do I begin? What’s the first thing that I do? What do I want to avoid? What does it mean for my business’s culture?

In final episode of the PROJECTIFY interview series with Mykel Dixon, these are the questions that we explore.

I discuss how starting has to begin with ‘purpose’. You need to know where you want to take your business or you have no direction for the strategy journey. It can be ethereal and aspirational or as straightforward as continuing to do what has been successful for you. However, you need a strategic model from which to build.

From there it’s as simple as identifying the 3 projects that will allow you to realise the improvement opportunities that will unlock that strategic purpose. Not just any 3 projects but the most important 3.

Then you appoint 3 teams of 5 people with the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to create valuable strategic outcomes from those projects…and get started! By doing it, you will gain clarity around what you need to do next. You’ll also learn what will make you better at your strategy-making activities – you build ‘project muscle’.


Myke and I also talk about the ‘C-word’ – is what we’re trying to shape a Projectified Culture?! I share my perspective that what you’re actually doing when you projectify your strategy is ‘cultural gardening’. As a business leader, you’re creating an environment where a certain type of culture will thrive. You’re creating fertile ground for your people’s culture to flourish and bear fruit that nourishes opportunity for both the business and the people in the business.

We wrap up our discussion by talking about the sort of thinking that needs to be avoided if you want to move your strategic activity from the static, ineffective world of traditional business strategy to a dynamic, adaptive world where strategy-making is driving the business forward. Where you’re nimble enough to not only respond to emerging and disruptive forces but become the disruptive force that your competitors are responding to. Where you become remarkable in your customers eyes and those ‘remarks’ draw new customers to your door. Where you shape a workplace that not only attracts and retains the best and brightest but makes all of your people their very best.

Whether you’ve watched every episode in this series, caught the majority or only managed to see one or two, it’s my profound hope that you found some tidbits of value among our ramblings. Above all else, I truly appreciate the gift of your time and attention – I know that it doesn’t come cheaply in today’s world.

Of course, if the idea of projectifying your strategic endeavours intrigues you and you’d like dig a bit deeper – want to learn more – then you can get in touch here. We’ll work together to see what approach might be right for you and your business or team.

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.

As we near the end of my discussions with Mykel Dixon, this episode explores what I’ve learned in developing the concepts contained in PROJECTIFY and in applying those ideas in the real world. How the power of this approach isn’t in the projects – projects are the just the key that unlocks the power of people.

In episode eight of this interview series, Mykel and I discuss how the most surprising thing that came out of the research that I did for the book was the ‘Progress Principle‘. The often misunderstood quality of meaningful progress as a driver for human endeavour. It is all the more intriguing as I’ve started to see the intrinsic motivation that progress brings, manifest itself in the people and organisations I’ve worked with.


We also talk about how the most rewarding thing I’ve experienced in applying these approaches in the business environment are the truly amazing business outcomes people deliver when we trust them to make a difference. When we give them the freedom to shape the future of the business. We discuss how these outcomes are not just confined to their strategic project activities but also filters into other aspects of their working life.

A subtle part of what I’ve uncovered in developing and applying this strategy-making approach is that becoming a nimble and adaptive business requires something more profound than a structured framework for pursuing your strategic objectives. Sure, projectifying the execution of strategy allows you to consistently and persistently pursue your strategic aspirations and adapt to emerging changes in the business landscape. But the most important aspect of strategic projects – when used effectively – is they allow the organisation to tap into your people’s skills, experiences and innate human desire to be part of something bigger.  They create workforce motivation by giving people a purpose to be motivated by – motivation that manifests itself as ownership not just compliance. It creates engagement by giving people meaningful work to be engaged in and a sense of progress that makes them want to engage more deeply.

When you unlock the power of people they drive your strategy forward because they experience the difference that future-focused work makes. The business not only progresses the strategic agenda, but business leaders can base that agenda on better insights into what will make the business stronger – for your shareholders and in the eyes of your customers.

In next week’s final episode of this interview series, we touch on some final thoughts around how to lead a projectified strategy-making approach.

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.

What does a projectified approach to business strategy look like in practice? How does it look for your people? How does it impact you as a manager?

The seventh episode of my interview with Mykel Dixon explores these questions…and a few more. We discuss how the effective use of projects to execute your business strategy manifests itself in the business – how it empowers your team and leverages leadership across the enterprise. We talk about how projectifying your strategy-making starts by creating consistent and persistent strategic activity. But, in its highest form, it makes your people the strategic engine that drives the business forward and allows its leaders to be the navigation system that directs that strategic momentum.

Myke and I chat about the liberating nature of a strategic environment where your people are empowered to move the business toward the future it aspires to. How it creates leadership bandwidth that spreads the heavy-lifting of leadership across the organisation. It frees up the business’s senior managers to blaze the future direction of the strategic journey. It gives your people the platform and ‘permission’ to lead…with their skills, their commitment, their experience or by enabling others to be their very best.

Finally, we talk about the power of circles over triangles when tapping into the capabilities and knowledge of your staff. This ‘tribal perspective’ on the relationship between the business and its people allows you shift from a Pareto world where 20 percent of the effort yields 80 percent of the strategic value toward one where 90 percent of your strategic activity satisfies 100 percent of the needs of your business and its customers. Where your people are the greatest source of strategic opportunity as well as the driving force behind translating that opportunity into business practice.

In the final episodes of this interview series, we continue discussing how to lead a projectified strategy-making approach. How, once on the strategic journey, you extract ever-greater mileage from your strategic activities.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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