Triangle Performance
In this issue
Strategic Planning...
Getting Your Ducks in Line
Printable Version
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Convention South Magazine
Boston Business Journal
The Houston Business Journal
Team-Based Leadership Development
Applied Strategic Planning
Thoroughbreds, Packhorses, and Donkeys
Recession Proof Leadership, The Sequel
Berchelmann Blog
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From the Top

Oops. I missed the August edition. What with the heat, no rain, travel, vacations, I could go on. I have more potential excuses than a salesperson around bonus time.

Speaking of excuses... how are those plans coming along? Are we close to fruition on all or most objectives? We should be -- it's past Labor Day now. Year-end is just a few slides down a slippery slope. If not, let's either re-energize around a revised plan, or redouble our efforts. Always remember -- deciding to do nothing is a leadership decision.

And usually not a good one.

If an employee doesn't reach an attainable goal, we have a performance problem. If employees (plural) are struggling collectively with significant objectives, we have a leadership problem.

Plans are seldom the issue. Most of us have plans (or should) reflecting where we would like our business to be at some point in the future.

No, the issue is usually execution. And I don't mean hanging and/or beheading. Well, sometimes I mean that, but... no, we mean taking purposeful, planned actions to achieve known objectives.

This edition of At C-Level speaks to strategic plans and effective, congruent organization design. Both are necessary for success, and in my opinion, we spend way too little time in both activities.

Most of you already knew that.

Lots of client strategy work going on now, and that's a good thing. Both for succeeding in a vision for 2009, as well as setting a solid, realistic course for 2010. Many of my more successful clients are also focusing on developing their leaders for future growth.

We're mentioned in the news:

Convention South Magazine needed input from a strategy and leadership expert on the importance of selecting the right facilitator for successful strategic planning for Effective Strategic Planning, appearing in February 2009 print and online editions.

Boston Business Journal, June 12 print edition, Companies Look to Teambuilding to Offset Challenges. I was mentioned prominently in this feature on how teambuilding skills are more necessary today than ever before.

This is a repeat, because I like it... The Houston Business Journal featured my firm (and a large client) for an article on team-centric executive development. Appeared on page 5B of the April 24th print edition of the HBJ.

Further, feel free to download and read a few articles that may be relevant today:

Team-Based Leadership Development -- Why it's better...,

Applied Strategic Planning -- The Corporate Reality Show,

New! Thoroughbreds, Packhorses, and Donkeys -- What's in your stable?, and

Recession Proof Leadership, The Sequel -- 3 more keys to managing through challenging times.

...and don't forget to check out my blog; some interesting (I think) posts on strategy, paranoia (no, not me!), and the foibles at Stanford University ... please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard.

Follow me on Twitter

Berchelmann's Blog

** Big Deal: Stay tuned -- later this month, I'll complete my research and surveys on 2010 compensation planning, and will send a link to everyone for their review.

If you'd like to know how I can assist you, your organization, or a colleague of yours, please fill out this form and I'll send you some specific information, articles, engagement results, and so forth.

As always, I hope this finds you well, personally and professionally; please give me a call if I can ever help in any way, and feel free to forward this to anyone you feel may be interested. I appreciate your referrals.

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann

D. Kevin Berchelmann
Triangle Performance, LLC

Strategy & Leadership
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Strategic Planning...
-- Necessity, or a bunch of consulting bunk?

So, some may ask... do we really need a strategic plan?

Well, yes. Assuming you want to go somewhere different than you are today.

With that out of the way, what about those myriad executives and companies with their 3-ring behemoths gathering dust on a bookshelf, all neatly lined up in chronological order? "If that's what you mean by 'a plan,' Kevin, count me out."

It's not what I mean at all. Don't excuse the need with comparisons to a few organizations that don't do it well.

A strategic plan is envisioning the future. It's determining where we want to go and who we really want to be in 2-5 years, maybe even longer. It's not simply forecasting (trending) today's numbers out for multiple months and years; though necessary, that simply gives us a potential picture of what we might look like if we -- and everyone else -- continues to do successfully what we've been doing.

The problem, of course, is we may change how we do things (intentionally or not). Customers/clients may change; environments and competition may change. Way too many variables to bank on status quo as a long-term strategy.

Consider the following reasons for strategic planning:

1. Technology and the pace of change make managing a business infinitely more complex. Strategic planning should help you foresee and react quickly to market changes and opportunities and identify areas in which your business is lagging behind.

2. Competition is everywhere. In many cases, smaller businesses find themselves competing with much larger companies -- ones that know the benefits of strategic planning and practice it regularly.

3. Great financial control alone is simply not enough to ensure your business's success. In addition to budgets and forecasts, you need long-term goals to determine the future direction of your company, not simply estimate the results.

You can - and should - use strategic planning to involve employees in all areas of your business, so they share your goals.

So, having a strategic plan assures success?

Well, no. Not exactly. Some organizations fail even with a plan.

Kevin's Top 5 Reasons Most Organizations Do Not Achieve Objectives Outlined in their Strategic Plan:

       ** Strategy was defined incorrectly.
       ** Goals were not stated in clear, quantifiable terms.
       ** Planning did not involve input of key managers.
       ** Lack of a skilled, impartial facilitator.
(Ok, I made this last one up. It is helpful, though!)

And the number one reason? Lack of Execution.

As I mentioned above, I don't mean hanging and/or beheading, as attractive as that sometimes sounds. I mean taking purposeful, planned actions to achieve known objectives. Stop looking at, reading, and discussing the plan; don't worry about formatting, charts, and color copies... Go do something in active pursuit of those objectives. And do something each and every day.

Planning is great. Defining objectives, scanning the environment, SWOT analyses and so forth... all fantastic. And all pale in comparison to Execution.

       "A good plan violently executed now is better
       than a perfect plan executed next week."
                                                 -- General George S. Patton

Study the environments, take input from as many as possible, and develop your strategic roadmap. Then violently execute. Take ruthless action -- and measure your results.

As my friend likes to say, this ain't rocket surgery...

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Getting Your Ducks in Line
-- Making sure the right ducks are doing the right things...

Organizational Design.

Sounds like true consultant-speak if ever there was such a thing. In reality, design -- or alignment -- is an essential component of organizational strategy.

Too often, we think Organizational Design is simply an org chart, boxing in who fills what job and where, who works for whom, and who sits closest to the boss.

In reality, it's much, much more.

Good design does all those things, to be sure, but that's the superficial afterthought. In other words, after we correctly align the organization, we see who works for whom, etc. It's not the other way around. Purposeful alignment comes first, square boxes with names comes afterwards.

I must also say that there is sometimes a huge difference between the academic or theoretical exercise of Organizational Design and the relevant, realistic design we are discussing here. It need not be complex, though it must be thorough. For instance, effective Organizational Design:

1. Must support the organization's objectives. We should be able to chart people, process, and resources through our organization, and see how each connected function takes us a logical step closer to our stated objectives.

Should Human Resources report directly to the Chief Executive? It depends -- is the CEO really the determinant for effective HR utilization? If so, possibly. If not, we're just doing it for show...

Should Sales Administration support the "sales function," or individual sales representatives? It depends... do our objectives require absolute consistency in administrative process, or are we counting on it more for tactical support?

These are merely a few examples taken from recent client interactions.

2. Must align all components correctly. Part of this is decision-making and resource allocation.

Is Purchasing a function of Finance or Corporate Administration? Does our Quality Management System operate independently, or is it closely integrated with Operations?

How about centralization vs. decentralization? One is cost-efficient, but not so customer-centric. The other creates some duplication of effort, but generally serves end-customers more directly.

3. Must be consistent. And consistency here means a lot of things... Are we driven more by geography or function? Should I have a single Sales Manager for "Product/Service XX" or would I be better served by having a "Sales Manager" for the Southeast, Northwest, and so forth. Function vs. geography is a key design consideration.

What about Span of Control? Is a VP a VP? Are peer-looking "org chart boxes" peers in real life?

All of these -- and more -- are questions that need to be answered to ensure we are optimally aligning our organizations for success. To do otherwise means we in leadership roles must resort to brute-force management to survive, and success becomes a lot less likely.

But that's just me...

© 2009 Triangle Performance, LLC