Organizations do not change. People change!

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on October 28th, 2019 by admin

Addressing an organization’s mindset has a tangible business impact and is the key that opens the door to successfully transforming an organization.

Albert Einstein once famously remarked, “Today’s problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them.”
Consider the example of a Latin American consumer goods manufacturer under pressure to change its performance after not having performed well for several quarters. Due to urgency, the chief transformation officer went off to set more stretched targets and created a weekly governance to review performance initiatives with more rigor.

Yes, people worked hard. Yes, at first some KPIs improved, but all of this drained more energy than the results it was delivering. It soon became clear that the people would not last a marathon at the speed of a sprint; they had started to become disengaged.
Like in this organization, most enterprise transformations focus on changing business metrics and, at best, employee behaviors—and not the thinking what created the need for a transformation in the first place. And, not surprisingly, 70% of them fail. Companies with failed transformation programs identify employee resistance or management behavior as the major barrier (72%) to success.

To avoid that statistic, this manufacturer for the first time shifted the focus on the people. What was driving their behavior? What made their eyes shine? What would truly engage them in a transformation? Looking for these answers, the top team discovered that up until then, people were gaining praise for doing new things even if they were not delivering their promised results. They thought that short-term results were more important than satisfying the consumer. And when the time came to choose, they felt that their individual goals were bigger than the company’s. All this was limiting them from participating wholeheartedly in the transformation underway.

In fact, these mindsets, as we call them, needed to be flipped to make things work. Through a set of targeted initiatives, these mindsets were shaken. The people came to realize that satisfying the consumer is what will bring the short-term results. There is no success for the individual if the company is not doing well. And they started to be recognized for executing with discipline focusing on our full potential to deliver challenging goals. Sharing the story of why the transformation was necessary and addressing these mindsets engaged the employees with a whole new level of energy, and only few months later the organization was able to deliver its first quarter back on track and continue the trend.

Companies that take the time to identify and shift deep-seated mindsets were 4x more likely to rate their change programs as “successful,” according to the McKinsey Quarterly Transformational Change Survey, 2010. In fact, mindset shifts are linked to the highest impact behaviors a person wants to change.

Unless you first identify the mindsets, both limiting and enabling your people, your transformation initiatives may be wasting resources, time and energy. Another company, a telco, found that managers spent the majority of performance reviews explaining the complex rating process vs giving feedback. So, the telco simplified the process and rating system, increased frequency of conversations, and provided training on delivering feedback. However, it’s important to keep in mind that “from” mindsets aren’t necessarily bad; many rational, competent and well-meaning people could and do operate in this way.

In the case of the telco, leaders cancelled reviews and/or spent most time on small talk. Why? Leaders actually avoided difficult conversations and focused the feedback on process because they were afraid that criticism and difficult conversations would damage their relationships. Once this mindset transformed into “honesty (with respect) is the essence of building strong relationships,” leaders started to engage in regular, honest and courageous feedback conversations, and focus their feedback on performance.
Addressing the organization’s mindset has a tangible business impact and is the key that opens the door to successfully transforming an organization. In our next articles, we explore how to uncover those mindsets and how to turn them around.
The authors wish to thank Natasha Bergeron for the practical insights she provided for this post.

Source: McKinsey.com, October 2019
Authors: Anita Baggio, Eleftheria Digentiki and Rahul Varma
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For a successful transformation, start by sprinting

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on August 27th, 2019 by admin

No, don’t hurry through important steps. Rather, create a straightforward plan and implement it in short bursts—followed by pauses to reflect on effectiveness.

When done well, an organizational redesign fosters improved strategic focus, higher growth, better decision-making and more accountability.

However, a McKinsey survey revealed that only 30 percent of organizational redesigns are successful in terms of achieving overall objectives and improved performance. That means a daunting 70 percent of transformations fail.

Why? In the design phase, meddling by too many cooks often obscures the vision of a future operating model. Accommodating multiple opinions means the design becomes fragmented and vulnerable to individual pain points. Resources can get tied up in tasks that don’t add real value, unnecessarily prolonging the process.

More than 80 percent of executives have gone through an organizational redesign at their current company. They know that a transformation is a marathon. But to get to the finish line, it pays to do implementation sprints. That means taking a simpler, iterative approach; learning as you go; and correcting course more frequently. Under this approach, concept development and implementation are linked, running in parallel.

One high-end retailer, for example, faced difficulties with its siloed culture when redesigning its operating model and online assortment strategy. A series of focused two-week meetings, led by cross-functional teams, helped to foster a common view of what needed to change. The quick implementation of changes led to an impressive increase in its online assortment from 30 percent to more than 70 percent in just three months.

There are six things to keep in mind when going through a transformation:
1. Be bold: Set a clear and ambitious target that will help you substantially transform your organization and let it guide your future operating model.
2. Slim it down: Create a simplified first version of your envisioned end-state that will still deliver a significant amount of impact in the first phase of implementation.
3. Prioritize change initiatives: Don’t kick off all new initiatives at once. Instead, be clear about how the initiatives will be sequenced and how they relate to one another.
4. Conduct implementation sprints: Kick off the implementation in short design-test-apply cycles.
5. Adapt and hone when needed: React to requirements that emerge during the transformation and course-correct whenever needed.
6. Keep your eye on the ball: Stay focused on the actual end product: a truly transformed organization, not a perfectly designed plan. Embrace constant reality checks and adapt the plan accordingly. This helps to concentrate resources on those areas that contribute the most value.

Change is not easy, and the odds are hardly in any transformation’s favor. But tackling the root of the problem by simplifying the design and using a pragmatic approach—through implementation sprints—will boost the likelihood of success.

While we all aim for perfection, we should not do so when designing a new operating model. Sometimes complex concepts, which theoretically are superior to simpler plans, don’t get implemented. Instead, they can draw attention and energy away from more fundamental changes and delay the entire transformation.

Source: McKinsey.com, August 2019
By: Patrick Guggenberger, advises leading global companies in the consumer industry and other sectors on how to optimize organizational design and operating models to improve performance and culture, and boost organizational agility-
Patrick Simon, dvises consumer-packaged-goods, apparel, and fashion companies around the world, with a focus on organizational transformation and harmonizing a company’s operating model with its strategy and the market’s requirements
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Making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on August 15th, 2019 by admin

Elephant in the room: making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions

Leaders are familiar with the challenge of making a cultural transformation. To signal changing expectations, execute carefully considered symbolic actions.

Why did a leading global agriculture player order small rubber elephants adorned with the company’s logo for its meeting rooms? Far from being mere props, these elephants were symbols to facilitate desired behavior shifts in employees.

The organization was undergoing a cultural transformation to become a higher-performing, more innovative company. Leadership realized that to achieve this goal, employees needed to become more open and comfortable having the candid conversations required to move ideas forward—they needed to be able to put the elephant on the table. To encourage this change, leadership sought a way to signal the beginning of the transformation and role model the new behaviors.

Leaders across industries are familiar with the challenge of making—and sustaining—a cultural transformation. To signal that cultural expectations are changing, leadership should execute one or two carefully considered symbolic actions.

Make expectations clear through role modeling
“Beyond Performance 2.0” discusses the importance of senior leaders employing symbolic actions—highly visible acts or decisions that indicate change in the organization—to demonstrate their commitment to the transformation. Symbolic actions can augment critical, but often less visible, day-to-day behavior shifts among leaders, addressing a common frustration: “I’m doing things differently but no one is noticing.”

Our research shows that transformations are 5.3 times more likely to succeed when leaders model the behavior they want employees to adopt. We also found that nearly 50 percent of employees cite the CEO’s visible engagement and commitment to transformation as the most effective action for engaging frontline employees.

Symbolic actions are most successful when employees connect the dots between the act and the broader change message, facilitating both a mindset and behavioral shift. For example, employees at the agriculture company were initially confused when they discovered the rubber elephants. But their confusion subsided when they saw leaders pick them up and put them on the table as they raised difficult topics others might have felt uncomfortable surfacing. The practice was eventually adopted by other employees when they too needed to call out the elephant in the room.

Develop a portfolio of symbolic actions
Leaders can identify the right symbolic actions for their organization and evolve their approaches by undertaking three key activities:

1. Define the purpose of and audience for potential symbolic actions.
Leaders should identify what specific changes they want to facilitate and which group should be part of the symbolic action. Being clear on what is being symbolized and for what purpose will focus energy on the ideas that will have the greatest impact.

2. Brainstorm symbolic actions.
Go for quantity over quality when generating ideas. Use external examples for inspiration and adopt design-thinking tactics, such as empathy mapping, to better understand the audience. Categorizing the ideas according to design dimensions such as who will execute the action and the frequency of the action (one-time, periodic or ongoing) helps the group iterate.

3. Review and prioritize ideas.
Evaluate the list as a team and identify options that you feel will be the most effective, shifting the focus to quality over quantity. Prioritized actions should be consistent with broader transformation messaging and should be designed to appeal to the different sources of meaning that motivate and inspire employees, such as doing good for society, supporting their working team, or enabling personal gain.

The behavior change and the broader culture change transformation catalyzed by the elephant on the table ultimately paid off for the agriculture company. Its employees now have more open, candid conversations, enabling improved performance and health of the organization. The company climbed to the top decile of organizational health in McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index database—an achievement that our analysis indicates correlates with clear improvements in financial performance. For shareholders, there is nothing symbolic about those returns.

For more on leading successful large-scale change programs, see our book, “Beyond Performance 2.0.”

Source: McKinsey.com, July 2019
Authors: By Jessica Cohen, Matt Schrimper and Emily Taylor
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Kopiera sporteliten: Fem framgångsprinciper bakom vinnarteam

Posted in Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on June 3rd, 2019 by admin

Den som vill skapa ett framgångsteam gör klokt i att inspireras av eliten inom idrotten. Här är ingredienserna för att knåda fram ett vinnarlag – oavsett sport eller näringslivsgren.  Framgångsrika idrottsklubbar har en lagprestanda som många företag trånar efter. I sin nya bok ”Vinnande ledarskap” identifierar forskarkollegorna Margareta Oudhuis och Stefan Tengblad de principer som ligger bakom medaljerna. 

1. Rätt miljö 
Klubbar som når långt har bland annat en publikdragande arena, toppmoderna träningsanläggningar och viktig kringexpertis som fysioterapeuter, idrottsläkare, dietister och sjukgymnaster. Det vill säga allt som krävs för att maximera spelarnas förutsättningar.  

”Miljön ska underlätta för idrottarna att fokusera på kärnverksamheten och de sportsliga prestationerna. Motsvarande tänkesätt kan man utgå från när man utformar arbetsplatser”, säger Margareta Oudhuis, professor i arbetsvetenskap vid Högskolan i Borås. 

2. Skickligt lagbygge
Balans mellan individ och kollektiv är grundläggande i topplagen. Å ena sidan ska varje spelare tänja sin egen roll och maxförmåga. Å andra sidan måste det finnas en kollektiv ansvarskultur, där alla gemensamt jobbar för att laget ska vinna. 

Var och en måste också känna sig uppskattad och bekräftad, konstaterar Margareta Oudhuis och tar före detta förbundskaptenen för landslaget i ishockey, Conny Evensson, som exempel. 

”När han klev in i omklädningsrummet efter en match gick han inte fram till stjärnan i laget som ändå blev omklappad av alla, utan till den spelare som ingen ser. Det gjorde han medvetet för att lyfta dem som inte får lika stor uppmärksamhet.”

3. Robust spelfilosofi
Spelfilosofin är lagets ryggrad som klargör hur målet ska nås. Den är också en form av värderingsmässig ledstång att hålla sig i. 

”När spelfilosofin sitter i ryggmärgen frigörs energi till kreativitet. Framgångsrika lag lyckas också ständigt förbättra den”, säger Margareta Oudhuis. 

Om lagets filosofi och värderingar inte respekteras ska tränaren markera, säger hon vidare. En uppmärksammad händelse var när Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Olof Mellberg och Christian ”Chippen” Wilhelmsson trotsade lagets riktlinjer och gick ut på krogen. Krogbesöket ledde till att de skickades hem från landslagssamlingen i Göteborg 2006. 

”Det fungerar inte om lagets värderingar bara gäller vissa spelare. Alla – även stjärnorna – måste respektera dem. En spelare berättade att laget fick ett större förtroende för förbundskaptenen Lars Lagerbäck efter beslutet.”

4. Orubblig vinnaranda
För att ta sig till medaljerna gäller det att ha en välkomnande och öppen miljö i laget. Nya, skickliga spelare ska inte ses som ett hot, säger Margareta Oudhuis. 

”Kommer det in en riktig bra spelare ska laget tänka, ‘vad kul nu blir vi ännu bättre’. Om det uppstår osund konkurrens är det nödvändigt att stävja den. Det gäller även inom arbetslivet.”

Den tidigare tränaren för herrlandslaget i handboll, Bengt ”Bengan” Johansson, var en mästare på att mejsla fram rätt laganda bland spelarna, konstaterar hon. 

”Han lyckades bland annat få en väldigt duktig spelare att sitta på bänken och vara lycklig när laget vann. I stället för att känna sig utanför, stöttade han genom att vara glad och lyfta dem som spelade.”

5. Fullt fokus ger flyt
Fokusbubblan är avgörande för att kamma hem medaljerna. Inget lag har segrat med spelare som är disträ eller riktar koncentrationen mot annat än det som händer på planen. Det kan vara värt att påminna sig om på företagen, där just fokus snarare har blivit en bristvara på många håll, anser Margareta Oudhuis.

Ritualerna före match är ofta viktiga. Legendariska förbundskaptenen Tommy Svensson hittade en numera berömd metod för att få laget i vinnarstämning inför åttondelsfinalen mot Saudiarabien i VM 1994, där Sverige tog brons.

Han läste dikten ‘I rörelse’ av Karin Boye. Det fick spelarna att bli berörda och känna att ‘vi klarar detta’ – och så gick de ut på planen och vann matchen.”

Källa: DI.se, 3 juni 2019
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Five moves to make during a digital transformation

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Digitalisering / Internet, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete on May 20th, 2019 by admin

Surveyed executives confirm that digital transformations rarely achieve success. But in those that do lie the structural elements that may help organizations overcome the odds.

Despite the abundance of digital and analytics transformations underway across the business landscape, few companies are achieving the results envisioned. Our latest McKinsey Global Survey on the topic confirms that the rate of success is alarmingly low.1 About eight in ten respondents say their organizations have begun digital transformations in recent years, but just 14 percent say their efforts have made and sustained performance improvements.2 What’s more, only 3 percent report complete success at sustaining their change. (Explore the survey results in our data visualization, “An interactive look at digital transformations.”)

That companies find difficulty turning in successful digital transformations is not surprising, since we know from previous research that digital transformations are harder than more traditional ones to get right. But a look at the structure of digital and analytics transformations points to five key moves at particular stages of a transformation that set successful change efforts apart. These actions suggest ways that other organizations can plan and execute digital transformations successfully.

For starters, respondents who report the greatest levels of success in pursuing digital transformations say their organizations ruthlessly focus on a handful of digital themes tied to performance outcomes. In defining their transformations’ scope, these successful organizations boldly establish enterprise-wide efforts and build new businesses. They also create an adaptive design that allows the transformation strategy and resource allocation to adjust over time. In addition, they adopt agile execution practices and mind-sets by encouraging risk taking and collaboration across parts of the organization. Moreover, in successful efforts, leadership and accountability are crystal clear for each portion of the transformation.

Ruthlessly focus on a clear set of objectives

When considering a response to digital disruptions, organizations face many critical choices. Should they transform their existing business model or build a new one? Should they drive down costs or focus on customer engagement? Which areas of the business will require more investment in digital initiatives, and which will need to defund their own initiatives to free up resources for the ones that perform well or reflect higher-priority objectives? Getting leaders to agree upon the best way forward can be challenging, but the survey results suggest a need for consensus.Would you like to learn more about McKinsey Digital?Visit our Digital Organization page

With successful digital transformations, respondents say their organizations keep efforts focused on a few digital themes—that is, the high-level objectives for the transformation, such as driving innovation, improving productivity, or reshaping an end-to-end customer journey—that are tied to business outcomes, rather than pursuing many different agendas (Exhibit 1). At successful organizations, accountability for those objectives also spans the organization. These respondents are 3.7 times more likely than others to report a shared sense of accountability for meeting their transformations’ objectives. They also say their organizations have been clear about the financial effects of their initiatives; for example, they estimate impact based on the company’s current business momentum and models of near- and long-term scenarios.

Exhibit 1

Be bold when setting the scope

We know from previous research that digital strategies should be bold in magnitude and scope,3and the survey results show that this also holds true for digital transformations. The successful digital and analytics transformations are about 1.5 times more likely than others to be enterprise-wide in scale (Exhibit 2). This result aligns with earlier research, which found that companies making digital moves often use new digital technologies at scale to capture the full benefits from their technology investments.4 Respondents at successful organizations are also 1.4 times more likely than others to report the creation of new digital businesses during their transformations.

Exhibit 2

Create an adaptive design

The fast pace at which digital drives change explains why so many companies are launching digital transformations and why the transformations themselves must be flexible. Defining a multiyear transformation’s investment requirements and performance targets up front—and not revisiting them as the transformation progresses—has perhaps never been a sound approach. But digital transformations require monthly, if not weekly, adjustments. We see this adaptability ingrained in the design of successful transformations: respondents reporting success are almost three times more likely than others to say their efforts involve at least monthly adjustments to their strategic plans, based on business leaders’ input on the state of the transformation (Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3

Along with the need for adaptable transformation targets, flexible talent allocation is a differentiator in a transformation’s success. Respondents at successful organizations are more than twice as likely as others to strongly agree that their allocation of talent to digital initiatives has been dynamic during their transformations. Finally, a larger share of respondents reporting success say their organizations have reallocated their operating expenditures to fund the transformation. Earmarking resources for initiatives that span organizational silos can help ensure that a transformation is properly funded and that initiatives aren’t partially funded by one part of the organization only to be deprioritized by another.

Adopt agile execution approaches and mind-sets

Just as the transformation’s design must be adaptable, so must the execution of its initiatives. Successful digital and analytics transformations are likelier than others to employ more agile ways of working, such as encouraging risk taking, innovation, and collaboration across parts of the business, during a transformation.5 Agility’s importance to transformation success is clear when we look at the agile characteristics of companies’ organizational culture. Respondents at successful organizations are more than twice as likely as their peers elsewhere to strongly agree that employees are rewarded for taking risks of an appropriate level and 2.6 times likelier to say their organizations reward employees for generating new ideas (Exhibit 4). Additionally, these respondents are three times likelier to say employees collaborate effectively across business units, functions, and reporting lines. These findings align with previous research on successful digital cultures, which found that being risk averse and too siloed often prevents incumbents from realizing business impact from their digital activities.

Exhibit 4

Of course, organizations can rely on employees to be innovative, take appropriate risks, and work collaboratively only if they have the right digital talent. Talent is another aspect in which successful digital and analytics transformations differ notably from the rest. A larger share of success-group respondents than their peers strongly agree that their organizations are focused on attracting and developing highly talented individuals. They are 1.8 times likelier than others to say their organizations have hired new employees with strong digital and analytics capabilities during their transformations. What’s more, these respondents report that an average of 53 percent of employees have been trained in new digital and analytics capabilities since their transformations began—1.7 times greater than the share of employees reported at other organizations.

Make leadership and accountability crystal clear

Who owns the digital and analytics transformation is often a hotly contested question, since the initiatives that organizations pursue will affect how company resources are prioritized and might even change the entire direction of the organization. A look at responses describing leadership roles shows significant differences between the success group and others in how certain roles lead the transformation’s strategy and its execution. Respondents reporting successful transformations are likelier than others to say their leaders—from the board and CEO down to the leaders of specific initiatives—engage materially in the efforts (Exhibit 5). For example, leaders at these organizations are more likely to communicate their transformations’ progress regularly to the markets. There also is greater clarity at successful organizations about who is responsible for which portion of the transformation, whether it’s the ownership of a specific initiative or a particular stage in the process.

Exhibit 5

Clarity about ownership is critical, since responsibility often shifts among different groups as the digital transformation progresses, and the handoffs must be well-defined. The survey results show how successful companies manage ownership over time during their digital and analytics transformations (Exhibit 6). For setting strategy and measuring impact, the largest shares of respondents from successful organizations say responsibility lies with the corporate strategy function, which has visibility across the entire business and broader ecosystem. By contrast, respondents at all other organizations are more likely than the success-group respondents to say individual business units or functions are responsible for these steps. Meanwhile, respondents from successful organizations say business units most often oversee the actual execution of initiatives—that is, building and refining them.

Exhibit 6

Looking ahead

While most respondents say their organizations have not fully sustained the improvements made during transformations, lessons can be learned from the approaches of the organizations that did succeed. The results from those efforts point to moves companies can make to keep their transformations on a path toward success:

  • Raise the bar on leadership alignment and commitment. The broader scope of successful transformations further underscores the importance of having buy-in and alignment across the full organization to keep efforts coordinated and prioritized. Lack of leadership alignment around objectives often leads to many subscale and misaligned initiatives. One way to encourage commitment to a transformation’s initiatives is to show leaders, using pilots and proof-of-concept exercises, that the strategy will work, followed by investment in a single cross-cutting initiative. Building these proof points can galvanize support for the change effort. The same is true of increasing leaders’ digital fluency. These steps help make leaders comfortable with dedicating operating and capital expenditures at an enterprise level, which shows executive commitment and reduces the risk of wasting resources on incomplete initiatives.
  • Build in flexibility with clearly defined handoffs. Not only are successful transformations more likely than others to span large parts of the organization, but the ownership of each transformation will evolve over time as it moves from ideation through execution. The results suggest that there must be a clear plan for how these shifts in accountability will occur. Handoffs and overlap are notorious friction points that are critical to manage and define. Leaders should gather the pertinent groups across the business and provide a clear plan for each transition, to avoid duplication, misalignment, and dropped balls.
  • Enforce survival of the fittest among digital initiatives. Like ownership, funding for initiatives requires clarity: there should be clear criteria for reallocation of resources, whether operating or capital expenditures, based on performance. All digital initiatives should be expected to meet their targets to continue to receive funding. When initiatives fail to do so, organizations should defund them without delay to free up capital for new ones and quickly move on to the next approach. Seeking out M&A and partnership opportunities to quickly build out missing capabilities for new initiatives has been shown to be an important differentiator for success,6  and this seems likely to continue to hold true as the pace of digital transformations continues to increase.

About the author(s)

The survey content and analysis were developed by Jonathan Deakin, a partner in McKinsey’s London office; Laura LaBerge, a senior expert in the Stamford office; and Barbara O’Beirne, an associate partner in the Dublin office.

They wish to thank Jacques Bughin, Tanguy Catlin, Oisin O’Sullivan, and Soyoko Umeno for their contributions to this work.

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Kraftig ökning av chefers psykiska ohälsa

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 7th, 2019 by admin
Foto: IBL

De senaste fem åren har chefers ohälsa ökat kraftigt, visar ny sjukstatistik. Även antalet långtidssjukskrivningar har stigit brant. 

Pressen på landets chefer ökar. Allt fler mår dåligt psykiskt. Det visar företagshälsan Previas nya stora statistiksammanställning över sjukfrånvaron hos 12.300 chefer på drygt 400 Previa-anslutna företag över hela landet.

Mellan 2014 och 2018 ökade chefskårens sjukfrånvaro – korttids- och långtidssjukskrivningar sammanlagt – med 50 procent. Och just psykisk ohälsa orsakade 2018 fem gånger fler sjukskrivningar bland chefer än under 2014.

Lennart Sohlberg, analytiker och hälsoekonom hos Previa, konstaterar att chefer över tid har sjukskrivit sig betydligt mindre än övrig personal.

– Men nu håller det på att förändras, genom den här trenden med ökad psykisk ohälsa inom chefsledet.

Pernilla Rönnlund, organisationskonsult hos Previa, understryker att arbetsplatserna över lag måste bli mer hållbara.

– I dag är det högt tempo och hög stressnivå, många möten och ständiga förändringar. Det blir för lite tid över för återhämtning, reflektion och kreativitet.

Många linjechefer gör sitt yttersta för att se och respektera medarbetarnas arbetsmiljöutmaningar, och tar ett stort ansvar för att komma till rätta med deras problem, konstaterar hon.

– Samtidigt sitter de själva med en enorm stress och press på sig. De flesta biter ihop, men lider av en brist på stöd från högre chefer. Allt fler har i dag sina chefer i andra länder, och de företagsledningarna förstår inte alltid hur svenska arbetsledningar förväntas fungera.

Särskilt de yngre cheferna med småbarn hemma riskerar att bli sjuka. De måste jonglera såväl ett stressigt familjeliv som en alltmer gränslös chefsroll med vidhäftande mer eller mindre uttalade krav på arbete och tillgänglighet kvällar och helger, vab och egen sjukdom.  

Många linje- och mellanchefer längtar efter att ledningsgruppen skulle vara mer synlig och tillgänglig för dem:

– Särskilt de yngre vill att deras egna chefer ska vara synliga och coachande, de är vana att bli sedda och vill få diskutera och ifrågasätta.

En sådan nära och förtroendefull dialog mellan chefsleden är en förutsättning för att upprepad korttidsfrånvaro bland cheferna ska kunna fångas upp, innan den riskerar att leda till utbrändhet eller annan sjukdom, och en långtidssjukskrivning. 

De företag som mår bäst och går bäst är som regel de som i tid förmår att fånga upp och stävja för mycket övertid på kvällar och helger. 

Och alla arbetsgivare är – enligt lag – tvungna att säkerställa en sund arbetsbelastning och god arbetsmiljö. Trots det talar företagsledningar nästan uteslutande om affärsstrategier, verksamhetsplaner och resultat, påpekar Pernilla Rönnlund.

Ledningsgruppers kompetens kring hur man kan arbeta proaktivt kring den sociala och organisatoriska arbetsmiljön är fortfarande låg. De bör tänka på att om man inte tar in arbetsmiljön också i ekvationen så kommer det att påverka årsredovisningen sista rad negativt. 

– En trygg, tydlig och enad medlemsgrupp ger trygga mellanchefer. Trygga mellanchefer ger trygga motiverade medarbetare.

Men ser ledningen inte signalerna kör folk in i väggen. Och det kostar i slutänden företaget pengar. 

Previa ser en ökad efterfrågan på analys, stöd och kompetensutveckling inom arbetsmiljö, ledarskap, hälsa och rehabilitering. 

– Och det är viktigt att det finns möjliga ersättare, om chefen behöver ta en time out, säger Pernilla Rönnlund. 

Tips för att motverka psykisk ohälsa bland chefer:

  • Bygg nätverk som ger chefer möjlighet att bolla idéer och söka stöd. 
  • Ta fram fler mentorprogram.
  • Minska personalgruppernas storlek. 
  • Avlasta cheferna administrativa arbetsuppgifter så långt som möjligt.
  • Se till att ha en tydlig ersättare vid chefens frånvaro. 
  • Gör kontinuerlig uppföljning av arbetsmiljön och stressfaktorer på  arbetsplatsen. 
  • Nära och aktivt stöd från HR-ledningen.

Källa: DN.se, 7 februari 2019
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Seeing your way to better strategy

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on December 6th, 2018 by admin

Viewing strategy choices through four lenses—financial performance, markets, competitive advantage, and operating model—can help companies debias their strategic dialogues and make big, bold changes.

When executives gather in the strategy-planning room, they’re aiming to identify and prioritize the big, bold choices that will shape the future of the company. Many times, however, their choices get watered down and waylaid.

Companies that hold no conviction about priorities too often spread resources evenly across multiple projects rather than targeting a few projects with the potential to win big. Those companies seeking to escape slowing growth in their core businesses sabotage themselves by chasing new markets without critically evaluating if or how they can win.

To avoid this fate, companies should examine their strategic choices through four critical, interdependent lenses—the company’s financial performance, market opportunities, competitive advantage, and operating model (exhibit).

Executives tend to overemphasize the first two—viewing choices strictly in the context of financial and market opportunities—because those lenses represent critical inputs into the business case. But knowing what it will take to meet or beat financial expectations and which markets are profitable won’t do much good if the company doesn’t have the assets or capabilities required to win in those markets. Nor will it do much good if the company lacks the people, processes, and organizational structure to implement the proposed strategy successfully.

By viewing strategy choices through all four lenses, executives can identify and prioritize the big moves that will lead companies to new markets and growth opportunities, or the steps they can take to consolidate the core. When combined, the lenses provide a clear, balanced, holistic view of not just the opportunities in play but also what it will take to capture them. This kind of objective strategy diligence can improve conversations in the strategy room—and, ultimately, kick corporate performance into a higher gear.1

The financial lens
Most companies necessarily initiate their strategy processes with a look at their financial performance. The financial lens can help them incorporate an outside view into these discussions and develop an objective baseline for assessing the feasibility of long-term targets.

A company can use standard valuation methods to estimate what performance levels it must achieve in the long term to justify today’s value. If the company performs at these expectations, shareholder returns would roughly equal the cost of equity, compensating investors for their opportunity cost of capital.2 This, however, is not value creation—it’s simply the lowest threshold by which leaders can say their strategy was successful.

To create value, companies must deliver returns above and beyond the cost of capital, or they must deliver returns that exceed those of peers. Thus, executives should also use benchmarks to figure out how the company must perform to move well beyond that threshold—delivering top-quintile returns to shareholders, for instance. An objective look at peers’ performance will help companies develop a meaningful three- to five-year plan for how to earn excess returns. Companies can learn a lot from this benchmarking exercise: perhaps high returns in the past were the result of a run-up in multiples in the market and, hence, expectations, but not actual performance.

To anchor those perspectives in current company performance and market position, it is critical for teams to develop a market-momentum case (MMC). Using external market data and peer-performance benchmarks, the MMC gives the company a holistic view of how financial performance will be affected if the company follows its current trajectory relative to market growth, cost evolution, and pricing dynamics without taking any countervailing actions. The end result is an objective baseline for performance that allows executives to conduct an unbiased assessment of how to prioritize new initiatives (and big moves) without counting on them in the base plan.

By assessing implied performance, aspirations for performance, and the MMC, strategy and finance professionals can arm themselves with the information required to start meaningful, objective discussions on value creation: How does the company need to perform to achieve superior returns, and how would the company perform if it remained in steady state?

The market lens
Most companies are seeing slow growth in core businesses and wishing they were in higher-growth, higher-margin businesses. In some cases, the slowing core business may even be under attack. For instance, a low-cost entrant might destroy incumbents’ economic profit in a certain segment, as happened in markets as diverse as those for aluminum wheels and children’s electronic toys. In today’s fast-moving business environments, many companies start from a baseline of deteriorating profit, not slightly increasing earnings. This creates urgency to make big moves into new markets or to block attackers.

The market lens provides a means by which companies can identify pockets of growth within existing segments and beyond, and assess them against strategic options. The critical factor here is granularity; executives should quantify and validate shifts in profit pools in relevant markets given trends that are visible now. One consumer-apparel company, for instance, examined absolute dollar growth in the product markets it operated in. It assessed growth by channel and by region. The differences were striking. In some geographies, demand was expected to continue to grow mostly in brick-and-mortar stores for at least five years, with a significant price premium for high-end products. In other geographies, online channels were capturing profits much more rapidly than expected. Using the market lens, the strategy team recognized the need to allocate resources in product development and marketing for high-end products in brick-and-mortar stores in certain regions, as well as more localized, lower-cost production in others. By running the analysis in this granular way, it could capture better profit in all regions, leading to above-average growth.

Additionally, strategy and finance leaders should always examine adjacent markets, which may be not only attractive segments for growth but also breeding grounds for potential future competitors. Many times, the adjacencies are obvious, as in online retailers’ continued push into industrial distribution for small and medium-size businesses, or technology companies’ moves into software-as-a-service businesses. Other times, they are not as obvious—for instance, raw-materials companies selling consumer goods.

After conducting the requisite analyses of markets, strategy teams should be able to address two key questions: In which market segments will we be able to grow profitably over time? What additional attractive markets should be considered?

The competitive-advantage lens
Most companies face a critical strategic choice in the planning room: Are we better off consolidating the core, where growth is slower, or can we realistically enter new high-growth, high-profit markets and win? But given time pressures, innate biases, and other factors, executives typically fall short in their consideration of assets, capabilities, and the investments required to compete more effectively against rivals. As a result, companies end up chasing unattainable growth and underinvesting relative to what it would take to win.

The competitive-advantage lens can help executives identify whether the company has what it will take to win in current markets and those going forward, or whether a big change is required to capture value. An honest assessment of current capabilities should inform how the company chooses to play in its markets, as well as partnerships or acquisitions that may be necessary.

In the wake of new realities such as digitization and the fact that many industries are reaching the limits of consolidation, the competitive-advantage lens is more important than ever. Take as an example the notion of building a digital platform, a goal shared by many executives these days: What competitive advantage will the platform provide? What sort of market share does it need to capture to be considered a “winner” and not just “average”? Is an ecosystem of third-party players required for the digital platform to succeed, or can this be done organically—and will we be able to do it quickly enough to become the preferred platform for our customers?

The analyses and insights here are typically based more on firsthand “case load” expertise than on industry databases or reports. Interviews with sales teams and postmortems on deals that went awry can be very insightful, as can customer and supplier surveys. There is a lot at stake in gaining these perspectives. The apparel company mentioned earlier discovered that competitors still owned brick-and-mortar stores in certain markets in which the apparel company worked only through online partners. The competitors’ sales representatives in these markets had special training and a structured sales approach that allowed them to collect information on customer preferences—for instance, the shapes, colors, and sizes customers wanted to see in the next season’s designs. This gave competitors a leg up in product development that the apparel company no longer had. The essential competitive advantage in these high-growth markets was real-time customer insights fed back into a rapid product-development cycle. The apparel company learned, therefore, that it had to continue to invest in brick-and-mortar stores to recapture this advantage, even in markets driven by online sales.

The operating-model lens
Companies routinely take for granted the impact of their operating models on their strategy choices. They maintain the status quo rather than asking whether they have the people, processes, technologies, and other critical components required to make big moves. The operating-model lens, then, is essential for understanding whether the company is set up for future success. Indeed, a company’s approach to resource allocation, talent management, organizational design, and performance management can either reinforce or defeat strategic objectives. Consider the following talent- and performance-management-related examples.

A pharmaceutical company estimated that more than one-third of its cash flow would come from Asia within five to seven years. That outcome never materialized, however: senior management had stationed fewer than 10 percent of the company’s sales representatives in Asia—all of whom were focused on maintaining current sales and profit, not on expanding sales according to the strategic plan. An analysis of the growth opportunity at stake (in dollars) versus the number of full-time employees allocated to the regions over the past five years revealed the degree of underinvestment. Senior management decided to hire heavily in Asia.

Rather than prescribe performance metrics from the top down—ordering, for instance, that no one can have more than a 1 percent increase in cost in the next fiscal year—a retail company picks two or three “growth cells” each year that get twice the relative marketing budget (among other investments) compared with other areas of the business. As a result, strategy discussions are now focused solely on which cells should be designated for accelerated growth, rather than minutiae about the budget.

Companies need to look at more than just financial opportunities when embarking on a new strategy or implementing a transformation program. They need to follow a due-diligence process for strategy, in the same way they would dispassionately and holistically vet critical mergers and acquisitions. Such a process can counter innate biases that lead to indecision or incremental rather than bold moves. The four interrelated lenses we’ve described provide a road map for ensuring that a strategy plan is supported by the right investments and change in operating model.

Source: McKinsey.com, December 2018
By: Kevin Laczkowski, Werner Rehm, and Blair Warner
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Winning with your talent-management strategy

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on August 9th, 2018 by admin

Three best practices for managing and allocating talent support better business performance, according to a new survey.

The allocation of financial capital has long been recognized as a critical driver of an organization’s performance. The value of managing and allocating human capital, however, is less widely known. But the results from a new McKinsey Global Survey confirm the positive effects of talent management on business outcomes.1 According to respondents, organizations with effective talent-management programs2 have a better chance than other companies of outperforming competitors and, among publicly owned companies, are likelier to outpace their peers’ returns to shareholders.

The survey also sought to uncover the specific practices that are most predictive of successful talent-management strategy. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the effective management of human capital, the survey results reveal three common practices that have an outsize impact on the overall effectiveness of talent management as well as organizational performance: rapid allocation of talent, the HR function’s involvement in fostering a positive employee experience, and a strategically minded HR team. The survey results also point to underlying actions that organizations of all stripes can take to cultivate these practices and thereby improve their talent-management strategy and organizational performance.

Why effective talent management matters
According to the survey responses, there is a significant relationship between talent management—when done well—and organizational performance. Only 5 percent of respondents say their organizations’ talent management has been very effective at improving company performance. But those that do are much more likely to say they outperform their competitors: 99 percent of respondents reporting very effective talent management say so, compared with 56 percent of all other respondents.3

What is more, the effects of successful talent management seem to be cumulative. Like an overall effective talent-management program, the abilities to attract and retain talent appear to support outperformance. Among public companies, we see a similar effect on total returns to shareholders (TRS). At companies with very effective talent management, respondents are six times more likely than those with very ineffective talent management to report higher TRS than competitors.

Three drivers of successful talent-management strategy
To support these outcomes, the results suggest three practices that most closely link with effective talent management: rapid allocation of talent,4 HR’s involvement in employee experience, and a strategically minded HR team.

Respondents who say all three practices are in place—just 17 percent—are significantly more likely than their peers to rate their organizations’ overall performance, as well as TRS, as better than competitors. They are also 2.5 times more likely than others to rate their organizations’ overall talent-management efforts as effective.

Rapid allocation of talent
Only 39 percent of respondents say their organizations are fast or very fast at reallocating talent as strategic priorities arise and dissolve—a practice that leads to a 1.4-times-greater likelihood of outperformance. And while it is well established that companies with rapid capital allocation are likely to see higher TRS, our findings show that the same holds true for talent allocation. At public companies that quickly allocate talent, respondents are 1.5 times more likely than the slower allocators to report better TRS than competitors.5 The link between rapid allocation and effective talent management is also strong: nearly two-thirds of the fast allocators say their talent-management efforts have improved overall performance, compared with just 29 percent of their slower-moving peers.

To allocate talent more quickly, the survey results point to three specific actions that meaningfully correlate with the practice. The first of these is the effective deployment of talent based on the skills needed, which has a direct impact on the speed of allocation. Respondents are 7.4 times more likely to report rapid talent allocation when their organizations effectively assign talent to a given role based on the skills needed.

Second is executive-team involvement in talent management. Respondents who say their leaders are involved in talent management are 3.4 times more likely to report rapid talent allocation at their organizations. The frequency of leaders’ involvement also makes a difference. At organizations that quickly reallocate talent, executive teams usually review talent allocation at least once per quarter. Finally, the results suggest that organizations where employees work in small, cross-functional teams are more likely than others to allocate talent quickly.

HR’s involvement in employee experience
A second driver of effective talent management relates to employee experience—specifically, the HR function’s role in ensuring a positive experience across the employee life cycle. Only 37 percent of respondents say that their organizations’ HR functions facilitate a positive employee experience. But those who do are 1.3 times more likely than other respondents to report organizational outperformance and 2.7 times more likely to report effective talent management, though our experience suggests that the HR function’s role is just one of the critical factors that support great employee experience.

A couple of key actions underlie the HR function’s ability to ensure better employee experiences. One is quickly assembling teams of HR experts from various parts of the function to address business priorities. Just 24 percent of respondents say their organizations employ this characteristic of an agile HR operating model, and they are three times likelier than other respondents to report a positive employee experience. Second is deploying talent and skills in a way that supports the organization’s overall strategy. One-third of all respondents say their organizations’ HR business partners are effective at linking talent with strategy in this way, and those who do are over three times more likely than other respondents to say the HR team facilitates positive employee experiences.

Strategic HR teams
The third practice of effective talent management is an HR team with a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s strategy and business priorities. When respondents say their organizations have a strategy-minded HR team, they are 1.4 times more likely to report outperforming competitors and 2.5 times more likely to report the effective management of talent.

The factor that most supports this practice, according to the results, is cross-functional experience. When HR leaders have experience in other functions—including experience as line managers—they are 1.8 times more likely to have a comprehensive understanding of strategy and business priorities. Also important is close collaboration among the organization’s chief HR officer, CEO, and CFO.6 Fewer than half of all respondents say those executives work together very closely at their organizations,7 but those who do are 1.7 times likelier to report a strategy-minded HR function. The findings also point to the importance of transparency with all employees about strategy and business objectives. Respondents who say their organizations’ employees understand the overall strategy are twice as likely to say their HR team has a comprehensive understanding of the strategy.

In summary, effective talent management—and the practices that best support it—contributes to a company’s financial performance. No one approach works for every company, but the survey results confirm that rapid allocation of talent, the HR function’s involvement in fostering positive employee experience, and a strategic HR function have the greatest impact on a talent-management program’s effectiveness.

Source: McKinsey.com, 8 August 2018
About the authors: The contributors to the development and analysis of this survey include Svetlana Andrianova, a specialist in McKinsey’s Charlotte office; Dana Maor, a senior partner in the Tel Aviv office; and Bill Schaninger, a senior partner in the Philadelphia office.
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How to make your team R.O.C.K. (“all about working together”)

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on June 12th, 2018 by admin

To learn about teamwork, management gurus tend to study collaboration in companies. Most don’t consider rock ‘n’ roll groups as an appropriate venue for studying teams. After all, what is a life in rock ‘n’ roll if not a quest to escape the 9 to 5?

As the CEO of Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp (David) and part-time musician and Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company (Scott), we’ve observed that the best bands – the ones that last – achieve levels of teamwork and collaboration that business leaders would envy.

This makes sense. You must learn to work together if you’re going to spend life together on the road (imagine taking your team on a nine-month offsite!) and regularly “innovate” a new product every year or so for fickle customers with endless choice. Success at the end of the day, as Judas Priest’s lead singer Rob Halford put it, is “all about working together.”

We asked rockers who work with Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp’s “Team Rock” corporate team-building program what they consider the most important lessons corporate leaders can learn from their experience. Here are their insights (shared in a framework intended to be as memorable as the chorus of your favorite rock anthem!):

R: Role clarity: Heart’s Nancy Wilson, who has sold over 35 million albums in her career, explains: “Staying relevant in music is like in marriage, you have to renew your vows every few years. Everyone has to understand and commit to what their role is, and they have to do it well. I play guitar, and I’m expected to play guitar well; it’s not a prop! At the same time, you can’t expect others to do things they can’t do. Great bands figure out each other’s relative strengths and weaknesses and members play their roles accordingly.”

O: Objective setting: Paul Stanley from Kiss, among the highest selling rock ‘n’ roll acts of all time, shares: “Success doesn’t happen by chance. Without big goals, you’ll never make it big. At the same time, breaking the journey down into smaller, manageable goals on the way to the big picture makes those larger goals feel achievable. Those small victories start to accumulate, build momentum, and, in time, what may have felt impossible at the start becomes reality.”

C: Communication: Roger Daltrey of The Who, one of the 20th century’s most influential rock bands, reflects: “Communication is fundamental to the success of a band – it’s the lifeblood. When things start to go off the rails, it’s not going to come back without good communications. And if the band doesn’t communicate well with each other, they’ll never be able to connect with their audience. Keep it simple and straightforward, be respectful but honest with each other. Then you’re building on a strong foundation.”

K: Killer attitude: (Yes, by “killer” we mean “excellent” – that’s rock ‘n’ roll!) Singer and guitarist Sammy Hagar, with 25 platinum album certifications, describes: “The biggest thing that gets in the way of teamwork in a band is ego. When someone, or everyone, thinks their ‘thing’ is the most important thing, it all falls apart. The great professionals and greatest bandmates are confident in their abilities and humble enough to work to build others up, and themselves be open to learning. When this happens, there is mutual respect. When mutual respect is there, magic can happen.”

The last word goes to Ed Oates, Oracle’s co-founder and a guitarist, who sums it up well: “In a band you’ve got different people with different attitudes and skills coming together to achieve a common goal. When it works, the outcome is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s far more than just five individual stars. It’s the same in business – it’s that kind of teamwork that’s behind sustainable success.”

As it comes to teamwork, then let us say – and say it loud, “Let there be R.O.C.K.”

Source: McKinsey.com, 31 May 2018
Authors: David Fishof and Scott Keller
About the authors: David Fishof is the founder and CEO of Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, and author of “Rock Your Business: What You and Your Company Can Learn From the Business of Rock and Roll.” Scott Keller is a senior partner at McKinsey & Company and co-author of “Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths” and “Beyond Performance: How Great Companies Create Ultimate Competitive Advantage.”

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on April 20th, 2018 by admin

Eight shifts that will take your strategy into high gear

Developing a great strategy starts with changing the dynamics in your strategy room. Here’s how.

1. From annual planning to strategy as a journey
Messy, fast-changing strategic uncertainties abound in today’s business environment. The yearly planning cycle and the linear world of three- to five-year plans are a poor fit with these dynamic realities. Instead, you need a rolling plan that you can update as needed.
In our experience, the best way to create such a plan is to hold regular strategy conversations with your top team, perhaps as a fixed part of your monthly management meeting. To make those check-ins productive, you should maintain a “live” list of the most important strategic issues, a roster of planned big moves, and a pipeline of initiatives for executing them. At each meeting, executives can update one another on the state of the market, the expected impact on the business of major initiatives underway, and whether it appears that the company’s planned actions remain sufficient to move the performance needle. In this way, the strategy process becomes a journey of regularly checking assumptions, verifying whether the strategy needs refreshment, and exploring whether the context has changed so much that an entirely new strategy is necessary.
To grasp what this process looks like in action, consider the experience of a global bank whose competitive context dramatically changed following the financial crisis. The CEO realized that both the bank’s strategy and its approach to refining the strategy over time as conditions changed needed revamping. He instituted biweekly meetings with the heads of the three major lines of business to identify new sources of growth. After making a set of “no regrets” moves (such as exiting some noncore businesses and focusing on balance-sheet optimization), the bank’s strategy council devoted subsequent meetings to confronting decisions whose timing and sequencing demanded close evaluation of market conditions. The top team defined these choices as “issues to be resolved,” regularly reviewed them, and developed a process for surfacing, framing, and prioritizing the most time-sensitive strategic challenges. In doing so, the team not only jump-started its new strategy but launched an ongoing journey to refine it continually.

2. From getting to ‘yes’ to debating real alternatives
The goal of most strategy discussions is to approve or reject a single proposal brought into the room. Suggesting different options, or questioning the plan’s premise and therefore whether it should even be under consideration, is often unwelcome. Without such deeper reflection, though, you are less likely to make hard-to-reverse choices about how to win—which is problematic, because those choices are the essence of real strategy, and the planning process should be geared to shining a spotlight on them.
The conversation changes if you reframe it as a choice-making rather than a plan-making exercise. To enable such discussion, build a strategy decision grid encompassing the major axes of hard-to-reverse choices. Think of them as the things the next management team will have to take as givens. Then, for each dimension, describe three to five possible alternatives. The overall strategic options will be a few coherent bundles of these choices. Focus your debate—and your analysis—on the most difficult choices. One company we know recently brought two very different plans into its strategy discussion: the first plan assumed the present, low level of resourcing, and the second one represented a “full potential” growth scenario, which necessitated dramatically higher investment levels. The latter option was a new possibility resulting from a positive demand shock. Alongside one another, the two plans stimulated vigorous debate about the company’s road ahead and what its posture toward the business should be.
If you want real debate, you also need to calibrate your strategy. As we show in our book, the odds of a strategy leading to dramatic performance improvement are knowable based on analysis of your company’s starting endowment, the trends it is riding, and the moves you are planning. If your odds are poor, you should consider alternatives, which often will require making bigger moves than you made in the past. Forcing discussion about real strategic alternatives—such as different combinations of moves and scenarios with different levels of resources and risk—help you move away from all-or-nothing choices, as well as from those 150-page decks designed to numb the audience into saying “yes” to the proposal.
Even a simple calibration can stimulate debate about whether a strategy has a realistic chance of getting you where you want to go. Consider the experience of a consumer-goods client with $18 billion in revenue and the aspiration of achieving double-digit growth. The company did a great deal of planning, and the aspiration, which rested on a bottom-up aggregation of each business unit’s plans, looked reasonable. However, publicly available information showed that among industry peers within the same revenue range, only 10 percent generated sustained, double-digit growth over ten years. The questions became: Is our strategy better than 90 percent of our peers? Really? What makes us stand out, even though we have performed like an average company over the prior five years? These questions were uncomfortable but important, and they contributed to a strategic reset for the company.

3. From ‘peanut butter’ to one-in-ten wins
It is nearly impossible to make the big moves that successful strategies require if resources are thinly spread across all businesses and operations. Our data show that you are far more likely to achieve a major performance improvement when one or two businesses break out than when every business improves in lockstep. You have to identify those breakout opportunities as early as possible and feed them all the resources they need.
Identifying those winners is easier than you might think. If you were to ask your management team to pick them, they would probably agree strongly on number one and maybe number two—much less so on, say, numbers seven and eight. The difficulty starts when discussion shifts to resource allocation. In fashion, movies, oil exploration, and venture capital, people understand that it’s the one-in-ten win that matters, but most other businesses do not have this “hit mentality.”

To stop spreading resources too thinly, you and your management team need to focus on achieving a few breakout wins and then work to identify those potential hits at a granular level. Excessive aggregation and averaging into big profit centers can prevent you from seeing the true variance of opportunity. One CEO we know had traditionally framed strategy discussions around growth of 4 to 6 percent and accordingly meted out resources to divisions. One year, he did a much more granular analysis and realized that one geography—Russia—was growing at 30 percent. He swamped the Russian operations with resources, created a more favorable environment, and subsequently enjoyed even faster growth from that unit.
We’ve seen many senior teams move away from “peanut buttering” by using some form of voting to pick priorities. In some cases, that’s a secret ballot in envelopes. In others, CEOs set up a matrix showing all the opportunity cells and let executives allocate points to various initiatives by applying stickers to the matrix. Such a matrix can help you look at the market in ways that are different from how your organization is structured—which boosts the odds of achieving radical resource shifts. One company, for example, recently decided to examine plans one level down from the business unit and created a detailed curve of 50 or so specific, investible opportunities. The result was a much bigger shift in resources to the best opportunities.

4. From approving budgets to making big moves
The social side of strategy often makes the three-year plan a cover for the real game: negotiating year one, which becomes the budget. Managers tend to be interested in years two and three but absolutely fascinated by year one, because that is where they live and die. You need to put an end to the strategy conversation being little more than the opening act to the budget.
One of the worst culprits in these budget-driven discussions is the “base case”: some version of a planned business case anchored in various (largely opaque) assumptions about the context and the company strategy. The base case might obscure the view of where the business actually stands, which could make it hard to see which aspirations are realistic and, certainly, which strategic moves could deliver on those aspirations.
A practical way to avoid this trap is to build a proper “momentum case.” This is a simple version of the future that presumes the business’s current performance will continue on the same trajectory—the highly probable outcome absent any new actions. In this way, you get a sense of how much impact your moves need to deliver to change that trajectory.
It is also critical to understand explicitly why your business is making money today. At a retail bank in Australasia, for instance, the leaders wanted to expand into overseas markets. The logic was, we are very successful, so we must be better operators than our competitors. We will move into other markets, where the operations are not nearly as efficient as in our home markets, and we will clean up. When the team looked at how the bank really made money, however, the operating metrics were unimpressive. The company’s success was largely due to its product strategy: the bank had a big exposure to residential mortgages, for which demand was very strong in Australia at the time. Another big source of profit was the bank’s excellent record of picking branch locations. But those choices were made by two people at the head office, so there was no reason to suspect that they would be as successful in Indonesia or other new countries.
The bank gained these insights by doing a “tear down” of its results. This is a crucial part of sharpening the dialogue around big moves, and it is not that hard to do. Simply take the business’s past performance and build a “bridge,” isolating the different contributions that explain the changes. Most CFOs regularly do this for factors such as foreign-exchange changes and inflation. The bridge we are talking about considers a broader array of factors, such as average industry performance and growth, the impact of submarket selection, and the effect of M&A.
Armed with a thorough, unbiased understanding of where your business stands and what has been driving performance, you can focus on what it would take to change your trajectory. Instead of asking for a target or a budget in the strategy meeting, ask for the 20 things each of your business leaders wants to do to produce a series of big moves over the coming period. Then debate the moves rather than the numbers expected to result from them. Why should we do this big move? Why shouldn’t we? How different does the company look depending on what risk and resource thresholds we set for it? Above all, talk about moves first, budgets second. Over time, your managers will come to recognize that if they do not have any ideas for big moves or cannot inspire confidence about their ability to pull off big moves, they will lose resources accordingly.

5. From budget inertia to liquid resources
The handover between strategy and execution happens when the resources are made available to follow through on the big moves you identify. Execution can then begin, and managers can be held accountable.
To mobilize resources and budgets, a company needs a certain level of resource liquidity. And you have to start early—the date your fiscal year begins. That is when serious productivity-improvement initiatives should be under way to free resources by the time allocations are decided later in the year. Then you must hold onto those freed resources so they will be available for reallocation, which requires determination. As soon as an engineer has time, your R&D organization will have creative new product ideas; the sales organization will identify attractive new business opportunities as soon as a productivity program has freed up part of the sales force. You need to be incredibly clear about separating the initiatives that free up resources from the opportunities to reinvest them if you hope to make big moves.
Another way to enable resource reallocation is to create an “80 percent–based” budget: a variant on zero-based budgets in which you make a certain sliver (say, 20 percent) of the budget contestable every year, so money is forced into a pot that is available for reallocation when the time comes. Yet another option is to place an opportunity cost on resources that seem free but are not. You identify scarce resources, such as shelf space for retailers, and make sure they are measured and managed with the same rigor as conventional financial metrics, such as the sales and gross margins for which many retail managers are held accountable. This can be as simple as shifting to ratios (such as sales per square foot and returns on inventory for a retailer) that encourage managers to cut back on lower-value uses for those resources, thereby freeing them up for other opportunities.
US conglomerate Danaher strongly emphasizes resource liquidity and reallocation. Originally a real-estate investment trust, the company now manages a portfolio of science, technology, and manufacturing companies across the life sciences, diagnostics, environmental and applied solutions, and dental industries. To avoid budget inertia, senior management at the company spends half its time reviewing and recutting the portfolio—much like private-equity firms do. The company even has a name for its approach: the “Danaher Business System.” Under this approach, which is based on the kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement, Danaher has institutionalized the resource liquidity required to chase the best opportunities at any point in time. It systematically identifies investment opportunities, makes operational improvements to free up resources, and builds new capabilities in the businesses it acquires. Over the past decade, the company has dynamically pursued a range of M&A opportunities, organic investments, and divestments—big moves that have helped the company increase economic profits and total returns to shareholders.

6. From sandbagging to open risk portfolios
When business units develop strategic plans, they often set targets that they can be sure of reaching or exceeding. As you aggregate these plans on a corporate level, the buffers add up to a pretty big sandbag. The mechanism of aggregating business-unit strategies also explains why we see so few big moves proposed at the corporate level: individual unit heads tend to view M&A initiatives and other bold programs as too risky, so these moves never make the final list they bring into the strategy room.
To make strides against sandbagging, you need to manage risks and investments at the corporate level. In our experience, a key to doing this effectively is replacing one integrated strategy review with three sequential conversations that focus on the core aspects of strategy: first, an improvement plan that frees up resources; second, a growth plan that consumes resources; and third, a risk-management plan that governs the portfolio.
This approach triggers a number of shifts. People can lay out their growth plans without always having to add caveats about eventualities that could hamper them. You could ask everyone for growth or improvement plans, possibly insisting on certain levels to make sure everyone is appropriately imaginative and aggressive. Only after executives put their best ideas on the table do you even begin to discuss risk. By letting business leaders make risk an explicit part of the discussion, you change their perception that their heads alone will be on the block if the strategic risk cannot be mitigated. They will share what they know of their risks rather than hiding them in their plans—or not showing you an initiative at all because they deem the personal risk to be too high.
Consider the experience of a retailer whose traditional strategy approach was to roll up the plans of each of its different brands. One year, the company instead racked up the full set of about 60 investible opportunities and assessed them against one another, regardless of the brand or business unit with which they were connected. The dispersion between opportunities was striking. A portfolio-level view also led to a different answer about the right risk/return threshold than had emerged from assessments made earlier by individual divisional leaders. It turned out, perhaps counterintuitively, that there was too much capital going to the smaller businesses, while the biggest business had major, underfunded opportunities.

7. From ‘you are your numbers’ to a holistic performance view
Whatever shifts you make, you cannot make them alone; you need to bring your team along. We often see managers being pushed to accept “stretch targets”—with perhaps a 50 percent chance of being achieved, what we would call a “P50” plan—only to have these low, up-front probabilities ignored when it comes to the performance review at year end. People know that they “are their numbers,” and they react accordingly to attempts to set aggressive targets.
Bringing probabilities to the fore can reset these dynamics. You need to have a sense of whether you are looking at a P30, a P50, or a P95 plan if you hope to have a reasonable, ex post conversation about whether the result was a “noble failure” or a performance failure. You also need to dig down on what drove the outcomes. Although you don’t want to punish noble failures, you don’t want to reward dumb luck, either. Rather, you want to motivate true high quality of effort. At W. L. Gore, maker of Gore-Tex, teams get data on performance and vote on whether the team and its leader “did the right thing.” This vote is often closer to the truth of what happened than the data itself.
Ultimately, you also need a sense of shared ownership in the company’s fortunes and a clear alignment of incentives to get the full commitment of your team to the big moves you need to make. To deliver the message that people will not be punished simply because a high-risk plan did not pan out, we suggest developing an “unbalanced scorecard” for incentive plans that has two distinct halves. On the left is a common set of rolling financials with a focus on two or three (such as growth and return on investment) that connect to the economic-profit goals of the division and enterprise. On the right is a set of strategic initiatives that underpin the plan. The hard numbers on the left help establish a range for incentives and rewards, and the strategic initiatives on the right can be a “knockout” factor, with P50 plans getting treated more softly on failure than P90 moves. In other words, the way you get the results matters as much as the results themselves.
Playing as a team counts here, too. The right thing to do at a portfolio level does not always mean every individual “scoring the goal.” For example, it’s a good idea to have fire stations strategically located throughout your city, but you don’t heap rewards on the one fire station that happened to be near the big conflagration. You look at the performance of the system as a whole. The urge to push individual accountability can actually be counterproductive when it comes to strategy, which is really a team sport.

8. From long-range planning to forcing the first step
We see it all the time: big plans that excite leaders with grand visions of outcomes and industry leadership. The problem is that there is no link to the actual big moves required to achieve the vision—and, in particular, no link to the first step to get the strategy under way. Most managers will listen to the visions, then develop incremental plans that they deem doable. Often, those plans get the company onto a path—but not one that reaches the vision or exploits the full potential of the business.

That is why the first step is crucial. After identifying your big moves, you must break them down into what strategy professor Richard Rumelt calls “proximate goals”2: missions that are realistically achievable within a meaningful time frame—say, 6 to 12 months. Work back from the destination and set the milestone markers at 6-month increments. Then test the plan: Is what you need to do in the first 6 months actually possible? If the first step isn’t doable, the rest of the plan is bunk. One insurance CEO worked on a vision with his team that concluded there would be no paper in the insurance business in ten years. But when he asked for the plan for the upcoming year, paper consumption was set to increase. So, he asked, “To connect to our vision, would it be viable to be flat in paper next year and go down in the next?” Of course, the team had to say yes. By framing a first-step question, the CEO forced the strategy.

Pursuing these shifts should increase your chances of making big, strategic moves, which, in turn, increases your likelihood of jumping from the middle tier into the elite ranks of corporate performance. In fact, our research shows that making one or two big moves more than doubles your odds (to 17 percent, from 8 percent) of achieving such a performance leap. Making three moves boosts these odds to 47 percent.
But keep in mind that the eight shifts are a package deal—if you don’t pursue all of them together, you open the field to new social games—and that it takes a genuine intervention to jolt your team into this new way of thinking. How? Here’s an idea: Create a new strategy process that reserves ten days per year for top-team conversations and introduce the shifts one meeting at a time. If things go wrong in a meeting, they go wrong only in one place, and you can “course correct” for the next conversation. And if you discover at the end of the ten days that you have not been able to free up all the resources you feel are needed, that’s OK. Take the resources you were able to free up by the end of this first planning cycle and allocate them to the highest priorities that emerged from it. You will have made progress, and, more importantly, your team will now understand what this new process is all about. That is a first step in its own right, and if you want to boost the odds of creating a market-beating strategy, it’s probably the most valuable one you can take.
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Source: McKinsey.com
About the authors: Chris Bradley is a partner in McKinsey’s Sydney office, Martin Hirt is a senior partner in the Greater China office, and Sven Smit is a senior partner in the Amsterdam office. This article is adapted from their book, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds (Wiley, February 2018).
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