StrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.
Episode 46 – Your Leadership Off-Site is Wasting a Lot of People’s Time examines the effectiveness of leadership off-sites today and shares insights on how these events can be reshaped to deliver greater impact. We explore the reasons for this shortfall in detail and discuss an innovative approach to maximize the off-site experience. During our discussion, Dan Parisi, Executive Vice President at BTS, shares with us his insights and illustrative examples regarding:
- the importance of leadership off-sites to strategy execution
- who is typically engaged in designing and executing leadership off-sites and the role these individuals play in the ultimate effectiveness of the experience
- why leadership off-sites are so often a missed opportunity
- actions that can be taken to improve off-site effectiveness
- bottom-line impacts effective leadership off-sites can have
In addition to the outstanding insights Dan shares in this edition of the StrategyDriven Podcast are the resources accessible from the BTS website, www.BTS.com.
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About the Author
Dan Parisi, Executive Vice President at BTS, a leading strategy execution consulting firm focused on the development and delivery of high-impact experiential learning initiatives that drive strategic priorities. Over the course of his career, he has personally designed and facilitated business simulation-based experiences for more than 8,000 executives and managers at leading Fortune 50 organizations such as Hewlett-Packard, Texas Instruments, Toyota, and others.
Nathan Ives is a StrategyDriven Principal, and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast. For over twenty years, he has served as trusted advisor to executives and managers at dozens of Fortune 500 and smaller companies in the areas of management effectiveness, organizational development, and process improvement. To read Nathan’s complete biography, click here.
Let me start by reassuring you: the chances that you are a strategy tourist are close to zero.
But I’m sure you do know a strategy tourist.
Most likely you know plenty of them, since strategy tourists – those individuals who lack the motivation, skills and knowledge to turn a strategy into performance – can be found in abundance in most organizations. They are easily recognizable by the following characteristics:
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About the Author
Jeroen De Flander helps you to improve your strategy execution skills in his new book, The Execution Shortcut. He is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on strategy execution and a highly regarded keynote speaker. He has shared the stage with prominent strategists like Michael Porter and reached out to 21,000+ leaders in 30+ countries. His first book Strategy Execution Heroes reached the Amazon bestseller list in 5 countries and was nominated for Management Book of the Year 2012 in the Netherlands.
Effective evaluation and control programs rely on a set of underlying behaviors promoting continuous performance improvement. While positionally dependent, these behaviors foster the continuous identification and resolution of performance improvement opportunities and shortfalls.
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About the Author
Nathan Ives is a StrategyDriven Principal and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast. For over twenty years, he has served as trusted advisor to executives and managers at dozens of Fortune 500 and smaller companies in the areas of management effectiveness, organizational development, and process improvement. To read Nathan’s complete biography, click here.
Thinking Through the Strategies
Crisis management is so much more than handling of the media. A major oil company had a plant explosion and proceeded to do a good job of communicating afterwards. Unfortunately, the follow-through never transpired after the media coverage died down. Thus, lawsuits flew in the company’s face.
My client (a different chemical company) later had a similar explosion. The chief legal counsel called and stated that we did not want the fallout as from the other company. We therefore mounted a full-scope crisis management initiative that focused heavily on after-the-crisis help for the victims and their families. The goal was to keep litigation from occurring, which was met. At a later news conference, OSHA announced that it was assessing its smallest fine, as a result of the forthright way in which my client had handled the crisis.
Another energy industry client operated coal mines. The irresponsible actions of two employees thrust sludge from the mines and into the Cumberland River, which subsequently contaminated the water supply of three cities. The State of Kentucky filed suit, seeking criminal charges against the company.
Working closely together with legal counsel, our recommended crisis program posed an alternative to a worst-case sentence. The program, approved by the judge, consisted of TV and newspaper apology statements, plus the assurance that safety-environmental training would be provided to employees. An investment of $50,000 effected a reduction of the fine from $2 million to $500,000 and reduction of the charges from criminal to civil. Sustained follow-up communication with employees, customers, the court, regulators and opinion leaders ensued.
Another client was a large urban shopping center. Rapes occurred in the parking lot during the Christmas shopping season. Neighboring offices began e-mailing their friends, concerned that the center was unsafe.
Our strategy to address the crisis was three-fold. We engaged senior citizen volunteer corps and criminal justice students to wear Santa hats and serve as holiday escorts, assuring safety but not appearing as armed guards. Secondly, we initiated safety training that expanded to help home owners avoid accidents. Thirdly, the communications process served to glean research data that we needed to upgrade the center, its tenant mix and security issues. The common denominator was open communications with customers, where other retail centers try to stifle mention of incidents.
The process of strategy development is not esoteric. It is common sense, with an emphasis upon ideas that work and are easy to communicate. You always draw upon successful elements of other client crises. I had a restaurant chain attacked by an auto incident. Its family customer base was uneasy for their safety. We took the shopping center escort idea and translated it to senior citizen door greeters, armed with friendliness and the latest serving suggestions. Coupled with armed guards in parking lots, the approach was to reiterate the friendly, homey atmosphere, in contrast to the stereotype of sterile chain eateries.
There are three aspects to Crisis Management and Preparedness. First, qualified business advisors conduct Crisis Communications Audits. This securing and evaluation of programs needed or in-progress has enabled corporate management to make informed decisions, take swift action and avoid possible litigation.
Next comes Crisis Planning. This becomes a coordinated committee, with multiple departments and professional disciplines represented. What-if scenario planning is similar to the processes utilized in overall company strategic planning and visioning. The crisis plan must be part of the bigger process, not an adjunct or afterthought.
Finally comes Crisis Training. Activities include media-spokesperson training, field and operations staff training, coordination of corporate response and message points, community liaison, collateral materials writing-production, video archiving-production, media relations, monitoring and expert testimony. The crisis teams need to be prepared.
Crisis planning and strategies should be intertwined with security issues, financial goals, workforce empowerment and many other corporate dynamics. Elements which Crisis Management and Preparedness Plans should address, per categories on The Business TreeTM, include:
- The business you’re in (core business). Protection of intellectual property, materials, business continuity and core business production information. Prevention of theft, leaks in proprietary information and delays in deliverables.
- Running the business. Protection of physical plants, equipment, office files and other supplies. Prevention of unnecessary downtimes, spoilage, stoppage in processes and theft.
- Financial. Protection of fiduciary responsibilities and financial assets. Prevention of theft, embezzlement, accounting fraud and overpayments.
- People. Protection of human capital, knowledge bases of workers, executives, company safety and the work environment. Prevention of unnecessary employee burnout.
- Business development. Protection of company reputation, partnerships and alliances, marketplace intelligence and customer interests and relationships. Prevention of leaks in customer information and losses in company market position.
- Body of Knowledge. Protection of status and utilization of organizational working knowledge, management’s activities and relationships with regulators. Prevention of strains in company relationships with others and attacks from outside the organization.
- The Big Picture. Protection of the overall organization, compliance standards in the organization. Prevention of loss in quality, purpose or vision.
In times of crisis, take assessment of damages, and investigate the truth. Never exaggerate, speculate, or withhold information. No statements should be “off the record.” Provide complete answers, and respond to media requests for additional information in a timely manner. Failure to return calls implies something to hide. Maintain accurate records of all inquiries and news coverage.
The best way to build bridges is to seek out community opinion leaders and stakeholders before times of crisis. Educate them of your activities. Offer tours or community visitations to facilities. Provide printed information on your business… and a video, if at all affordable.
Test crisis plans during simulated drills, using qualified outside strategic planning consultants to evaluate results. Company officials should take these simulations seriously. The military does, terming them “war games.”
Part of being prepared is being engaged in routine activity. Have a plan in force, and be sure that every employee has a copy. The binder containing the plan should include easy-to-read fact sheets and backgrounders on company operations, current phone numbers, and a delineated line of authority (from company resource people to the spokesperson)
Crises can have many liabilities upon companies, including loss of profits and market share. Inevitable spin-offs include government investigations, public scrutiny, and a tarnished image. This causes loss of employee morale and, as a result, company productivity.
Crisis management and preparedness can minimize negative impacts of any emergency. Going through the planning and implementation is a quality assurance process that strengthens any company. Crisis communications means banking goodwill for those times when the plan is called to the test.
Crises of one sort can and will happen to every company. They can be turned from disasters into opportunities to project corporate strengths. The manner in which a crisis is handled often wins praise for companies whose positions are improved in the public eye. Those who are prepared will survive and thrive.
Defining Moments in the Corporate Culture
Volatile business contractions, uneasy economic climate, plant explosions, health care crises, hostile corporate takeovers, governmental shakeups, and financial failings are crises that upset the routine of business life.
Some jolting incident puts every organization into a reaction mode. The consequences of miscommunication in a crisis can be devastating to all involved. By dealing with the unexpected, preferably before it occurs, companies can bank public goodwill that may be useful later. Playing catch-up means that you have lost the game.
It is the responsibility of corporate management to practice effective Crisis Management and Preparedness. Management must study practical experiences of what can go wrong, put a crisis team into place, understand the workings of news media, identify community opinion leaders, and predict potentially harmful or controversial situations. Learn from those who were successful, those who failed to achieve the desired effects, and those whose corporate credibilities were damaged by inaction or the wrong actions.
Return to part 1 of 4.
About the Author
Power Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.
Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.
Is ‘burnout’ a reality, or am I just being a whiner?
StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)
It’s true that burnout behaviors can look a lot like victim behaviors. However, burnout is a real state of mind and can be debilitating in many ways. If you are trying to decide whether or not you are simply whining or at risk of burnout, consider this: You know you are toast when you’re always exhausted, not laughing, highly critical or cynical, disengaged, or overwhelmed. We can burnout when we’re not feeling appreciated, when “it isn’t fair,” when work is meaningless, when we have values dissonance, and when we’re bored. Sometimes we can ‘manage up’ and work with our boss or manage differently with others to mitigate the root causes of our burnout. Sometimes, we just need to take control where we have control.
The best and fastest way to move from victim to victor is to take control. In our society, we have far more we control over our lives than we think we do. We control our attitude, behaviors, choices, what we say and do and to whom we say it. By strengthening and filling up our personal resilience ‘tank’ we can take back control over our lives one big or little chunk at a time. These are some relatively simple strategies that really do work. I recommend starting with number one and begin to add another and another without leaving any behind.
- Believe in yourself – remind yourself that you’ve solved many, many problems before and will do so again
- Identify accurately the root cause of your pain
- Reach out to others – it’s not a weakness to ask for input, and help from people you trust
- Find your empathy and compassion – acts of grace will change your body chemistry!
- Control instant gratification urges that cause you harm – mad shopping, eating, drinking, quitting in a huff…
- Stay calm vs. becoming reactive
- Laugh as much as you can in as many ways you can – movies, cartoons, jokes, friends… whatever brings you joy
Growing your resilience is a process not a trait. We’ve all bounced back from tough things in our lives, so you do know how to do it. The problem is, we forget our wins when we are feeling burned out. It’s time to remember how much you’ve achieved in your life and perhaps it just might be the right time to reimagine what will make you happy, including what is truly meaningful to you. Focusing on what IS working for you right now, and what you want in the future can help jump start your journey back into the light.
About the Author
Leadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.
The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].