Thursday, March 27, 2014

Strategy Deployment & Dieting, Part 2

By Pascal Dennis

More companies die from over-eating than from starvation – Dave Packard

Last time we began to tackle the terrible “Just one more…” compulsion of so many organizations.

The consequences are serious: Obese, lumbering strategies with no hope of success. Alienated team members. Organizations approaching diabetic coma.

In our strategy deployment work, Job One is slimming things down. When we begin a gig, it’s not unusual to the Critical Few to comprise a few hundred activities!

(I often joke about the ‘Critical Few Hundred’.)

Whereby this compulsion?

Last time I mentioned the buffering effect. “I don’t know what the heck’s going on, so I’m hedging my bets by pressing all the buttons!”

A second cause is the following unfortunate mental model of many leaders:

“If I jam the pipeline full of stuff, more will come out the other end! Things will flow!”

Of course, this contravenes the laws of production physics. In fact, the pipeline turns to cement. Nothing flows.

At which point, unsophisticated leaders resort to exhortation or even more brutal methods.

This is akin to asking your team members to jump out the window, and then, after they crash to the ground, exhorting them to ‘Next time, flap your arms faster!’

In strategy, as in so many things, less is more.

Figure out, with your team, where the shoe pinches. Focus there – one or two activities to start. (Yes, you read that right.)

Don’t overload your team. Leave plenty of ‘white space’ for the inevitable hassles and SNAFUs.

Of course, this approach takes courage and humility.

The former was the topic of last month’s Lean Pathways Drawing Contest. The latter is in the pipeline.

In summary, let’s make like Oprah, and put our strategy on a diet.



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