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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När styrelsen trodde att de tog ansvar

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on November 30th, 2017 by admin

Välkommen till en ny tids ledarskap!

I Nya Ögon 4 granskar vi det ansvar som kan ställas på styrelse och ledning i svallvågorna av metoo-debatten.

Koncernchefen för ett av Sveriges största bolag var mycket modemedveten. Det var bara ett problem. Varje gång han dök upp på kontoret i en kostym av nytt snitt, eller iklädd en scarf i spännande färger, så gick det inte många dagar förrän resten av ledningsgruppen klädde sig likadant.

En VD för en stålkoncern i Mellansverige behövde plötsligt dela sin arbetstid mellan huvudkontoret och en av enheterna. När han körde till produktionsenheten lät han kavajen hänga kvar på huvudkontoret, då det var bekvämare att köra bil i en tröja. En vecka senare hade majoriteten av produktionsenheten slängt kavajen och gick omkring i tröja på kontoret.

De här två exemplen, är förstås lite smålustiga. Men det är också exempel på den makt VD och ledning förvaltar. Inte bara genom beslutsfattande, utan genom sina värderingar och beteende. I en värld där värderingsstyrning blir allt viktigare i relation till målstyrning i företagen blir ledningens värderingar lika med företagets och vice versa.

Den företagskultur som råder orkestreras till stor del av ledningen. Den är ofta ett arv från föregående ledningsgrupper. De värderingar som förmedlas till medarbetare, genom tal, varumärkesguider, dagligt beteende, är inget som kan låsas in i skrivbordslådan efter arbetsdagens slut. I en allt mer transparent värld, är minsta detalj eller avvikande beteende alltid en knapptryckning bort från sociala medier och offentligheten. Om värdegrunden bara finns på papper och inte i medvetandet är den mycket skör.

Det har vi sett alltför många bevis på i samband med de senaste veckornas avslöjanden där missförhållanden i företagen pågått i åratal, ja decennier, utan att vare sig ledning eller styrelse ingripit. En gemensam värdenorm har saknats. Eller, ännu värre, vissa har haft fribrev. Företagets ”stjärnor” har stått ovanför normerna, de har tilldelats en inofficiell töjmån i sina beteenden. De historier som nu kommit fram har till stor del handlat om vissa branscher, där ”stjärnor” omhuldats till den grad att de trott sig stå över de övriga medarbetarna och agerat därefter.

I våra utvärderingsprocesser av styrelser och VD är frågor som berör värderingar och företagskultur viktiga för att kunna bedöma lämpligheten i att leda bolaget och skapa värde för aktieägare, medarbetare och andra intressenter.

Vi har genomfört drygt 150 utvärderingar i svenska företag och har noterat intressant fakta. Det är långt ifrån ovanligt att styrelse och VD står ganska långt från den dagliga hanteringen av värderingarna. När styrelsen, VD och ledningsteamet värderar påståendet: ”VD personifierar på ett bra sätt den kultur och de värderingar bolaget skall karaktäriseras av”, håller styrelsen och VD med om detta. Däremot har vi i ett antal fall sett hur de direktrapporterande chefernas uppfattning ofta är betydligt mer kritisk. Således föreligger det inte sällan en okunskap i toppen av bolagen om huruvida VD verkligen, på en daglig basis, leder bolaget i linje med den kultur som eftersträvas.

Vår tolkning är att bolagsstyrelser inte sällan saknar tillräcklig insikt om hur det praktiskt fungerar i ledarskapet, samt negligerar de här frågorna och inte hanterar dem som en viktig byggsten för företagets varumärke, fortlevnad och konkurrenskraft.

Med en pågående kamp om talangerna i en digital era, är det viktigare än någonsin att fånga upp dessa brister tidigt istället för att konstatera att det finns något på pränt och förutsätta att det fungerar.

Inte bara de styrelser vars företag skapar rubriker på grund av ett löst förhållningssätt till värderingsfrågor behöver fokusera på den egentliga företagskulturen, inte den som kommunicerats.

Om en VD kan få ett kontor att lägga kavajen hemma kan det inte vara svårare att inspirera till sundare värderingar som skapar starkare företag och välmående medarbetare.

Kort om oss på Lagercrantz Associates

Nya ögon på ledarskap

Det sägs att världens totala kunskap dubbleras var tredje år. Att styra ett företag i denna omsättningshastighet ställer onekligen krav på den utvalde.

I takt med förändringarna förändras även kravprofilen på Sveriges företags styrelser och ledningar.

Hur hanterar dagens ledare de nya omfattande regelverken, det ökade kravet på kundkontakt, digitalisering, förändrade köpbeteenden, media, miljöfrågor?

Förändringens pris läser vi om på näringslivssidorna. VD:ar och styrelseordföranden lever ett kortare liv och felrekryteringar kostar företag och aktieägare stora pengar.

Lagercrantz Associates startades 2012 med nya ögon på ledarskap, hållbara rekryteringar och styrelseutveckling.

Vi har många års erfarenhet, bred kompetens, stort kontaktnät, utvärderingsverktyg av ledarskap och en djup förståelse av aktieägarperspektivet.

Lagercrantz Associates erbjuder tre tjänster:

1. Executive Search
2. Board search
3. Fact Based Board Assessment

Tillsammans har detta byggt Lagercrantz Associates – en personligare boutique-firma för search och assessment, med en högre karat av kunskap på våra enskilda medarbetare och en gemensam passion för att finna den nya tidens ledare och styrkraft.

Four secrets for turning insight into execution

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on November 27th, 2017 by admin

A well-designed leadership off-site is a great place to generate the big ideas that can take your business to the next level. You bring in a speaker, have an in-depth discussion, walk through an analysis, and suddenly, light bulbs go off. People see what they’ve been missing or what has been holding them back.

Unfortunately, as soon as people leave the event the light often begins to fade, and even those who complete planned tasks can lose sight of the big idea. Managers may be rigorous about their vision for implementation, but still find that execution varies widely — putting their business at risk and damaging trust and confidence on the team. “Are we going to have another one of those meetings where everyone signs up for stuff, and then no one does anything?” becomes an all-too-common refrain. As a leader, you might be tempted to throw up your hands. You would think that mature professionals could be counted on to follow through on their agreed-upon actions, right? Do you really have to hold their hands?

Well, yes, in a way, you do — for two reasons. First, brain science shows that new insights are fragile. In “The Neuroscience of Leadership,” published by this magazine, David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz show that when a new idea emerges, it is amorphous and faint, and thus more difficult to call to mind than something familiar. They explain that an engaging experience (like an off-site) is a great way to generate new insights and new connections in the brain. But to turn these new connections into repeatable action, they need to be reactivated again and again, until neural pathways become embedded in everyday thinking and decision making. Rock and Schwartz refer to this process as increasing the “attention density” given to a new idea. “Over time, paying enough attention to any specific brain connection keeps the relevant circuitry open and dynamically alive,” they write. “These circuits can then eventually become not just chemical links but stable, physical changes in the brain’s structure.” (Charles Duhigg’s analysis of habits and Dan Ariely’s description of predictable irrational behavior are both great additions on this subject.)

“Are we going to have another one of those meetings where everyone signs up for stuff, and then no one does anything?”

The second reason your people need more support for follow-up is the sheer volume of information they have to mentally sort and file every day — requests, alerts, introductions, announcements, and the list goes on. The constant noise can swamp even the most competent employee’s system for managing commitments.

Given these two factors, you can increase your team’s execution effectiveness by shifting your view of your role as a leader. Instead of being a taskmaster or allowing poor follow-up to undermine results, you can think of yourself as the architect of your team’s focus and attention — using simple practices to reactivate the insights that really matter over time. Here are four ways to start:

1. Document insights in real time, in vivid ways.
Don’t wait until the meeting or off-site ends. Instead, allocate some time near the end of the agenda for reflection — to capture key insights, outline project plans, and schedule next steps. Try sharing a project planning template. Give people time to check their calendars before asking them to commit to next steps. And, where possible, chronicle “aha” moments in ways that easily bring them back to life. I find hiring a person to serve as a graphic recorder, photographing key flip charts, or having people tell the story of the biggest insight from the meeting all make it easier to reactivate important insights later.

2. Be rigorous about your personal system for managing attention and commitments.
If you want to increase your team’s attention density, you need to proactively manage your own focus. There are many valuable methods available — for instance, David Allen’s Getting Things Done is explicitly designed to help you manage the flood of information inputs. The key is to have a personal routine for consciously directing your attention to what matters, and to follow it religiously. Having your own system helps you to choose how to direct your team’s attention, and sets the expectation that they should have similar systems. This is also the only way you or your team can make commitments you know you can keep.

3. Use questions to reactivate the “aha.”
In your team meetings, in your one-to-ones, and even when passing someone in the hall, try asking questions that prompt people to think more deeply about a big idea. “What did you find when you looked at the external market data?” “What is your goal for that sales call?” “Who are the new customers and who will be helping to set them up correctly?” Ask what the idea means to them, and how it can be applied in practice. As a leader, the questions you ask also let your team know what you expect and how they should prepare for discussions with you (an idea I learned from sales strategy expert Steve Thompson).

4. Notice everyone’s deadlines.
Too often, deadlines come and go, and no one mentions the hits or the misses. Unfortunately, this can signal that the project or the task isn’t important. By contrast, if you notice when a key date is coming up, you can ask the relevant individuals how the work is coming along, dig into challenges or delays, or thank your employees for solid execution. Doing so reinforces the idea that you are paying attention, and conveys the significance of everyone’s contributions. Simply recognizing when someone takes a crucial first step or shows signs of real effort to change can make a huge difference, especially when they are learning new habits. This need not become micromanaging if your focus is on helping people make progress toward the goal (rather than on catching their mistakes).

At first blush, you may think that adopting these four habits will cost you precious (and limited) time. But if you give them a try, I think you will find they increase the payoff from every insight your team develops. Isn’t that what we mean when we tell our teams we want them to do less and achieve more?

Source: Strategy-Business.com, November 2017
By: Elizabeth Doty
About the author: Elizabeth Doty is a former lab fellow of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and founder of Leadership Momentum, a consultancy that focuses on the practical challenges of keeping organizational commitments.
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How to create an agile organization

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on October 24th, 2017 by admin

Transforming companies to achieve organizational agility is in its early days but already yielding positive returns. While the paths can vary, survey findings suggest how to start.

Rapid changes in competition, demand, technology, and regulations have made it more important than ever for organizations to be able to respond and adapt quickly. But according to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, organizational agility—the ability to quickly reconfigure strategy, structure, processes, people, and technology toward value-creating and value-protecting opportunities—is elusive for most. Many respondents say their companies have not yet fully implemented agile ways of working, either company-wide or in the performance units where they work, though the advantages are clear. Respondents in agile units report better performance than all others do, and companies in more volatile or uncertain environments are more likely than others to be pursuing agile transformations.

Few companies are yet reaping these benefits, but that may soon change; the results also indicate that organizational agility is catching fire. For many respondents, agility ranks as a high strategic priority in their performance units. Moreover, companies are transforming activities in several parts of the organization—from innovation and customer experience to operations and strategy—to become more agile. Finally, respondents in all sectors believe more of their employees should be working in agile ways. For organizations and their performance units that aren’t yet agile, the path to achieving agility depends on their starting points. But the results indicate some clear guidance on how and where they can improve, whether they are lacking in stability or dynamism.

Organizational agility is on the rise
Across industries and regions, most survey participants agree that the world around them is changing, and quickly. Business environments are increasingly complex and volatile, with two-thirds of respondents saying their sectors are characterized by rapid change. In such environments, the need for companies to demonstrate agility is top of mind: the more unstable that respondents say their environments are, the more likely they are to say their companies have begun agile transformations.

To date, though, few organization-wide agile transformations have been completed. Only 4 percent of all respondents say their companies have fully implemented one, though another 37 percent say company-wide transformations are in progress. When asked where their companies apply agile ways of working,3 respondents most often identify activities that are closest to the customer: innovation, customer experience, sales and servicing, and product management. This is not too surprising, since customer centricity is cited most often—followed by productivity and employee engagement—as the objective of agile transformations. Companies are also focusing on internal end-to-end processes. At least four in ten respondents say their companies are applying agile ways of working in processes related to operations, strategy, and technology, while roughly one-third say they are doing so in supply-chain management and talent management.

Looking forward, the results suggest that companies have higher aspirations for agility. Three-quarters of respondents say organizational agility is a top or top-three priority on their units’ agendas, and more transformations appear to be on the way. Of those who have not begun agile transformations, more than half say plans for either unit-level or company-wide transformations are in the works. Respondents across industries also report a desire to scale up agile ways of working. On average, they believe 68 percent of their companies’ employees should be working in agile ways, compared with the 44 percent of employees who currently do. By industry, respondents in telecom and the electric-power and natural-gas industries report the biggest differences between their actual and ideal shares of employees working in agile ways—followed closely by respondents in several other industries: media and entertainment, the public sector, oil and gas, pharma, and advanced industries.

What’s more, the survey also confirms that agility pays off. Eighty-one percent of respondents in agile units report a moderate or significant increase in overall performance since their transformations began. And on average, respondents in agile units are 1.5 times more likely than others to report financial outperformance relative to peers, and 1.7 times more likely to report outperforming their peers on nonfinancial measures.

Agile organizations excel at both stability and dynamism
In previous work, we have determined that, to be agile, an organization needs to be both dynamic and stable.7 Dynamic practices enable companies to respond nimbly and quickly to new challenges and opportunities, while stable practices cultivate reliability and efficiency by establishing a backbone of elements that don’t need to change frequently. The survey scored organizations across eighteen practices (see sidebar, “Eighteen practices for organizational agility.”), which our research suggests are all critical for achieving organizational agility. According to the results, less than one-quarter of performance units are agile. The remaining performance units lack either dynamism, stability, or both.

Of the 18 practices, the 3 where agile units most often excel relate to strategy and people. More than 90 percent of agile respondents say that their leaders provide actionable strategic guidance (that is, each team’s daily work is guided by concrete outcomes that advance the strategy); that they have established a shared vision and purpose (namely, that people feel personally and emotionally engaged in their work and are actively involved in refining the strategic direction); and that people in their unit are entrepreneurial (in other words, they proactively identify and pursue opportunities to develop in their daily work). By contrast, just about half of their peers in nonagile units say the same.

After strategy, agile units most often follow four stable practices related to process and people: entrepreneurial drive, shared and servant leadership, standardized ways of working, and cohesive community. When looking more closely at standardized ways of working, the agile units excel most on two actions: the unit’s processes are enabled by shared digital platforms and tools (91 percent, compared with 54 percent for others), and processes are standardized, including the use of a common language and common tools (cited by 90 percent of agile respondents and just 58 percent of all others).

Among the dynamic practices, process—and information transparency, in particular—is a strength for agile units. Within transparency, for example, 90 percent of agile respondents say information on everything from customers to financials is freely available to employees. Among their peers in other units, only 49 percent say the same. The second practice where agile units most differ from others is in rapid iteration and experimentation. More than 80 percent of agile respondents say their companies’ new products and services are developed in close interaction with customers and that ideas and prototypes are field-tested early in the development process, so units can quickly gather data on possible improvements.

The path to agility depends on the starting point

For the performance units that aren’t yet agile, the survey results suggest clear guidance for how to move forward. But organizational agility is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking. The specific practices a unit or organization should focus on to become agile depend on whether it is currently bureaucratic, start-up, or trapped.

Bureaucratic units
By definition, bureaucratic units are relatively low in dynamism and most often characterized by reliability, standard ways of working, risk aversion, silos, and efficiency. To overcome the established norms that keep them from moving fast, these units need to develop further their dynamic practices and modify their stable backbones, especially on practices related to people, process, and structure.

First is the need to address the dynamic practices where, compared with agile units, the bureaucratic units are furthest behind. Only 29 percent of bureaucratic respondents, for example, report following rapid iteration and experimentation, while 81 percent of agile respondents say the same. A particular weakness in this area is the use of minimum viable products to quickly test new ideas: just 19 percent of bureaucratic respondents report doing so, compared with 74 percent of agile respondents. After that, the largest gap between bureaucratic units and agile units is their ability to roll out suitable technology, systems, and tools that support agile ways of working.

At the same time, bureaucratic units also have room to improve on certain stable practices. For example, bureaucratic units are furthest behind in performance orientation; in agile units, employees are far more likely to provide each other with continuous feedback on both their behavior and their business outcomes. What’s more, leaders in these units are better at embracing shared and servant leadership by more frequently incentivizing team-oriented behavior and investing in employee development. And it’s much more common in agile units to create small teams that are fully accountable for completing a defined process or service.

Start-up units
Start-up units, on the other hand, are low in stability and characterized as creative, ad hoc, constantly shifting focus, unpredictable, and reinventing the wheel. These organizations tend to act quickly but often lack discipline and systematic execution. To overcome the tendencies that keep them from sustaining effective operations, these units need to further develop all of their stable practices—and also broaden their use of the dynamic practices related to process and strategy in order to maintain sufficient speed.

First is focusing on a stronger overall stable backbone. On average, 55 percent of start-up respondents report that they implement all nine stable practices, compared with 88 percent of agile respondents who report the same. According to the results, a particular sore spot is people-related practices—especially shared and servant leadership. For example, just under half of start-up respondents say their leaders involve employees in strategic and organizational decisions that affect them, compared with 85 percent of their agile peers. Similar to bureaucratic units, respondents at start-up units also report challenges with process, particularly with regard to performance orientation. Within that practice, only 44 percent of respondents at start-up units say their people provide each other with continuous feedback on both their behavior and their business outcomes; 80 percent at agile units report the same.

Start-up units also have room to improve their use of dynamic practices, particularly in process and strategy. According to respondents, the agile units excel much more often than their start-up counterparts at information transparency—for example, holding events where people and teams share their work with the unit. Moreover, agile respondents are much more likely to say new knowledge and capabilities are available to the whole unit, which enables continuous learning. On the strategy front, the start-up units are furthest behind their agile peers on flexible resource allocation—more specifically, deploying their key resources to new pilots and initiatives based on progress against milestones.

Trapped units
The trapped units are often associated with firefighting, politics, a lack of coordination, protecting turf, and local tribes. These organizations find themselves lacking both a stable backbone and dynamic capabilities. In applying the stable practices, the trapped units are most behind on those related to people: specifically, shared and servant leadership and entrepreneurial drive. Just 13 percent of respondents at trapped units say they follow shared and servant leadership, compared with 89 percent of their agile peers. The dynamic practices in which they are furthest behind are process related, especially continuous learning and rapid iteration and experimentation.

Looking ahead
In response to the challenges that the survey results revealed, here are some principles executives and their units or organizations should act upon, whether or not they have already begun agile transformations:

Embrace the magnitude of the change. Based on the survey, the biggest challenges during agile transformations are cultural—in particular, the misalignment between agile ways of working and the daily requirements of people’s jobs, a lack of collaboration across levels and units, and employee resistance to changes. In our experience, agile transformations are more likely to succeed when they are supported by comprehensive change-management actions to cocreate an agile-friendly culture and mind-sets. These actions should cover four main aspects. First, leaders and people across the organization align on the mind-sets and behaviors they need to move toward. Second, they role-model the new mind-sets and behaviors and hold each other accountable for making these changes. Third, employees are supported in developing the new skills they need to succeed in the future organization. And finally, formal mechanisms are put in place to reinforce the changes, rewarding and incentivizing people to demonstrate new behaviors.8
Be clear on the vision. The results show that agile units excel most at creating a shared vision and purpose and aligning on this vision through actionable strategic guidance. In contrast, at companies that have not yet started a transformation, one of the most common limitations is the inability to create a meaningful or clearly communicated vision. An important first step in deciding whether to start an agile transformation is clearly articulating what benefits are expected and how to measure the transformation’s impact. This vision of the new organization must be collectively held and supported by the top leadership.
Decide where and how to start. Respondents whose organizations have not started agile transformations most often say it’s because they lack a clear implementation plan. While the right plan will vary by company, depending on its vision, companies should first identify the part(s) of the organization that they want to transform and how (for example, by prototyping the changes in smaller parts of the performance unit before scaling them up, or by making changes to more foundational elements that go beyond a single unit). Second, they should assess which of the 18 agile practices the organization most needs to strengthen in order to achieve agility, so that the actions taken across strategy, structure, process, people, and technology are mutually reinforcing. Third, they should determine the resources and time frame that the transformation requires, so the effort maintains its momentum but the scope remains manageable at any point in time.

Source: McKinsey.com, Octobr 2017
Authors: Karin Ahlbäck, Clemens Fahrbach, Monica Murarka and Olli Salo.
About the author: The contributors to the development and analysis of this survey include Karin Ahlbäck, a consultant in McKinsey’s London office; Clemens Fahrbach, a consultant in the Munich office; Monica Murarka, a senior expert in the San Francisco office; and Olli Salo, an associate partner in the Helsinki office.
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The CEO’s role in leading transformation

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on June 9th, 2017 by admin

The CEO helps a transformation succeed by communicating its significance, modeling the desired changes, building a strong top team, and getting personally involved.

In today’s business environment, companies cannot settle for incremental improvement; they must periodically undergo performance transformations to get, and stay, on top. But in the volumes of pages on how to go about implementing a transformation, surprisingly little addresses the role of one important person. What exactly should the CEO be doing, and how different is this role from that of the executive team or the initiative’s sponsors?

Based on a series of interviews we have conducted with nearly a dozen executives over the last couple of years—as well as our own experience working with companies—we believe there is no single model for success. Moreover, the exact nature of the CEO’s role will be influenced by the magnitude, urgency, and nature of the transformation; the capabilities and failings of the organization; and the personal style of the leader.

Despite these variations, our experience with scores of major transformation efforts, combined with research we have undertaken over the past decade, suggests that four key functions collectively define a successful role for the CEO in a transformation:

Making the transformation meaningful. People will go to extraordinary lengths for causes they believe in, and a powerful transformation story will create and reinforce their commitment. The ultimate impact of the story depends on the CEO’s willingness to make the transformation personal, to engage others openly, and to spotlight successes as they emerge.
Role-modeling desired mind-sets and behavior. Successful CEOs typically embark on their own personal transformation journey. Their actions encourage employees to support and practice the new types of behavior.
Building a strong and committed top team. To harness the transformative power of the top team, CEOs must make tough decisions about who has the ability and motivation to make the journey.
Relentlessly pursuing impact. There is no substitute for CEOs rolling up their sleeves and getting personally involved when significant financial and symbolic value is at stake.
Everyone has a role to play in a performance transformation. The role of CEOs is unique in that they stand at the top of the pyramid and all the other members of the organization take cues from them. CEOs who give only lip service to a transformation will find everyone else doing the same. Those who fail to model the desired mind-sets and behavior or who opt out of vital initiatives risk seeing the transformation lose focus. Only the boss of all bosses can ensure that the right people spend the right amount of time driving the necessary changes.

Making the transformation meaningful
Transformations require extraordinary energy: employees must fundamentally rethink and reshape the business while continuing to run it day to day. Where does this energy come from? A powerful transformation story helps employees believe in the effort by answering their big questions, which can range from how the transformation will affect the company down to how it will affect them. The story’s ultimate impact will depend on not just having compelling answers to these questions but also the CEO’s willingness and ability to make things personal, to engage others openly, and to spotlight successes as they emerge.

Adopt a personal approach
CEOs who take time to personalize the story of the transformation can unlock significantly more energy for it than those who dutifully present the PowerPoint slides that their working teams created for them. Personalizing the story forces CEOs to consider and share with others the answers to such questions as “Why are we changing?”; “How will we get there?”; and “How does this relate to me?”

Some leaders include experiences and anecdotes from their own lives to underline their determination and belief—and to demonstrate that obstacles can be overcome. Klaus Zumwinkel, the chairman and CEO of Deutsche Post, talked about his passion for mountain climbing, linking the experience of that sport and the effort it requires to the company’s transformation journey. John Hammergren, the CEO of McKesson, stressed that every employee was or would be a patient in the health care system and that this “larger purpose” made a difference. “Had we been in the ball-bearing business, I’m not sure it would have been as easy to personalize it,” he acknowledges.

Openly engage others
When a CEO’s version of the transformation story is clear, success comes from taking it to employees, encouraging debate about it, reinforcing it, and prompting people to infuse it with their own personal meaning. Most CEOs invest great effort in visibly and vocally presenting the transformation story. Julio Linares, the executive chairman of Telefónica de España, says the most important and hardest part of the transformation was “to convince people of the need for the program.”

Once the story is out, the CEO’s role becomes one of constant reinforcement. As P&G CEO Alan G. Lafley says, in “Leading change: An interview with the CEO of P&G,” “Excruciating repetition and clarity are important—employees have so many things going on in the operation of their daily business that they don’t always take the time to stop, think, and internalize.” Paolo Scaroni, who has led three public companies through various chapters of change, likes to find three or four strategic concepts that sum up the right direction for the company and then to “repeat, repeat, and repeat them throughout the organization.”

Reinforcement should come from outside as well. Passera notes, “If everyone keeps reading in the newspapers that the business is still a poor performer, not contributing to society, or is letting the country down, people will not believe you.”

Spotlight success
As the company’s transformation progresses, a powerful way to reinforce the story is to spotlight the successes. Sharing such stories helps crystallize the meaning of the transformation and gives people confidence that it will actually work. Murthy of Infosys describes how high-performing teams were invited to make presentations to larger audiences drawn from across the company, “to show other people that we value such behavior.”

Ravi Kant, the managing director of the integrated Indian auto business Tata Motors, deliberately identified people who would serve as examples to others. In “Leading change: An interview with the managing director of Tata Motors,” he talks about how he highlighted the achievements of one young man whose success on a risky project and subsequent promotion showed colleagues that talented and determined people can rise through the hierarchy.

Emphasizing the positive, behavioral research shows, is especially important. In 1982, University of Wisconsin researchers who were conducting a study of the adult-learning process videotaped two bowling teams during several games. The members of each team then studied their efforts on video to improve their skills. But the two videos had been edited differently. One team received a video showing only its mistakes; the other team’s video, by contrast, showed only the good performances. After studying the videos, both teams improved their game, but the team that studied its successes improved its score twice as much as the one that studied its mistakes. Evidently, focusing on the errors can generate feelings of fatigue, blame, and resistance. Emphasizing what works well and discussing how to get more out of those strengths taps into creativity, passion, and the desire to succeed.

Role-modeling desired mind-sets and behavior
Whether leaders realize it or not, they seem to be in front of the cameras when they speak or act. “Every move you make, everything you say, is visible to all. Therefore the best approach is to lead by example,” advises Joseph M. Tucci, CEO of EMC, the US-based information storage equipment business. Ultimately, employees will weigh the actions of their CEO to determine whether they believe in the story.

Transform yourself
Employees expect the CEO to live up to Mahatma Gandhi’s famous edict, “For things to change, first I must change.” The CEO is the organization’s chief role model.

Typically, a personal transformation journey involves 360-degree feedback on leadership behavior specific to the program’s objectives, diary analysis to reveal how time is spent on transformation priorities, a commitment to a short list of personal transformation objectives, and professional coaching toward these ends. CEOs generally report that the process is most powerful when all members of an executive team pursue their transformation journeys individually but collectively discuss and reinforce their personal objectives in order to create an environment “of challenge and support.

Murthy’s 2002 decision to take on the job title of chief mentor at Infosys, for example, meant that he had to reinvent himself, because he laid aside his formal managerial (CEO) authority at the same time. He explains, “You have to sacrifice yourself first for a big cause before you can ask others to do the same,” adding, “A good leader knows how to retreat into the background gracefully while encouraging his successor to become more and more successful in the job.”

Take symbolic action
The quickest way to send shock waves through an organization is to conceive and execute a series of symbolic acts signaling to employees that they should behave in ways appropriate to a transformation and support these types of behavior in others. For instance, C. John Wilder, CEO of the Texas energy utility TXU, gave a large bonus to a woman who had taken a clear leadership role in a very important business initiative. “This leader’s contributions generated real economic value to the bottom line,” he explains. “Of course, news of that raced through the whole organization, but it helped employees understand that rewards will be based on contributions and that ‘pay for performance’ could actually be put into practice.”

Building a strong and committed top team
The CEO’s team can and should be a valuable asset in leading any transformation. As Deutsche Post’s Zumwinkel suggests, “You need excellent individual players, but you also need players who are dedicated to playing as a team.” Sharing a meaningful story and modeling the right role will certainly increase the odds of getting the team on board, but it is also vital to invest time in building that team.

Assess and act
Successful CEOs take time to assess the abilities of individual members of the team and act swiftly on the result. In some cases, input from third parties (such as executive search firms) is sought to create a more objective fact base. Many CEOs find it useful to map team members on a matrix, with “business performance” on one axis and “role-modeling the desired behavior” on the other. Those in the top-right box (desired behavior, high performance) are the organization’s stars, and those in the bottom-left box (undesired behavior, low performance) should be motivated, developed, or dismissed. The greatest potential for sending signals involves the employees in the box of “undesired behavior, high performance.” When clear action is taken to improve or remove these managers, the team’s members know that role-modeling and teamwork matter. Banca Intesa’s Passera affirms that, “If necessary, you have to get rid of those individuals, even the talented ones, who quarrel and cannot work together.”

How do CEOs know when to intervene with the strugglers? They can reflect on the following questions:
Do team members clearly understand what is expected of each of them in relation to the transformation?
Is the CEO serving as a positive role model?
Does everyone recognize the downside and upside of getting on board and doing what is required?
Have struggling team members received a chance to build the needed skills?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes, decisive action is justified.

Experienced CEOs attest to the positive impact this can have on the rest of the company. EMC’s Tucci says he had to take “public” action to tackle the “whiff of arrogance” that used to characterize certain parts of the company. TXU’s Wilder recalls that “When we did a cultural audit, we found that the number-one complaint was that management was not dealing with employees that everyone knew weren’t carrying their load.“

Invest team time
Even with the right team in place, it takes time for a group of highly intelligent, ambitious, and independent people to align themselves in a clear direction. Typically, the first order of business is for members to agree on what they can achieve as a team (not as individuals), how often the team should meet, what transformation issues should be discussed, and what behavior the team expects (and won’t tolerate). These agreements are often summarized in a “team charter” for leading the transformation, and the CEO can periodically use the charter to ensure that the team is on the right track.

Intesa’s Passera speaks of how he brought his team together regularly to “share almost everything,” to make it “clear to everyone who is doing what,” and to “keep the transformation initiatives, budgets, and financial targets knitted together.” P&G’s Lafley emphasizes the importance of spending the time together wisely: “You need to understand how to enroll the leadership team.” As a rule of thumb, 80 percent of the team’s time should be devoted to dialogue, with the remaining 20 percent invested in being “presented to.”

Effective dialogue requires a well-structured agenda, which typically ensures that ample time is spent in personal reflection (to ensure that each person forms an independent point of view from the outset), discussion in pairs or small groups (refining the thinking and exploring second- and third-level assumptions), and discussion by the full team before final decisions are made. In this process, little tolerance should be shown for minutiae (losing the forest for the trees) and for any lack of engagement. Face-to-face meetings, as opposed to conference calls, greatly enhance the effectiveness of team dialogue.

Relentlessly pursuing impact
Organizational energy—collective motivation, enthusiasm, and intense commitment—is a crucial ingredient of a successful transformation. There is no substitute for a CEO directing his or her personal energy toward ensuring that the company’s efforts have an impact.

Roll up your sleeves
Initiatives with a significant financial or symbolic value require the CEO’s personal involvement for maximum impact. There may be several beneficial effects, among them ensuring that important decisions are made quickly—without sacrificing the value of collective debate—and sowing the seeds of a culture of candor and decisiveness.

Leaders must be willing to leave the executive suite and help resolve difficult operational issues. Peter Gossas, president of Sandvik Materials Technology and a man with lifelong experience in the steel industry, observes, “If there’s a problem, it can be helpful if I come to the work floor, step up on a crate so that everyone can see me, and hold a discussion with a shift unit that may be negative to change.” He adds, “It’s hard for me to walk into a melt shop and not begin discussing ways to solve operational problems.”

Hold leaders accountable
Successful CEOs never lose sight of their management responsibility to chair review forums. Through these, they compare the results of the transformation program with the original plan, identify the root causes of any deviations, celebrate successes, help fix problems, and hold leaders accountable for keeping the transformation on track, both in activities (are people doing what they said they would?) and impact (will the program create the value we anticipated?). A central role for the CEO during these review forums is to ensure that decision making stays grounded in the facts. As Narayana Murthy wryly observes, “We have embraced the adage ‘In God we trust; everyone else brings data to the table.’”

The CEO also plays a critical role in ensuring an appropriate balance between near-term profit initiatives (those that deliver performance today) and organizational-health initiatives (those that build the capacity to deliver tomorrow’s results). This is a lesson applied by John Varley, CEO of Barclays: “For several years, the focus on initiatives to improve financial performance dramatically crowded out attention on franchise health, leaving us with a set of issues in some businesses that needed urgent attention. We are addressing those issues.” During the transformation, some CEOs even choose to hold separate review meetings for short- and long-term objectives in order to ensure that companies maintain a balance between operational improvement (tactical strategies, wage management, productivity, and asset management) and long-term growth (revenue and volume growth through market share, new products, channels and marketing, M&A, talent, and capability management).

For CEOs leading a transformation, no single model guarantees success. But they can improve the odds by targeting leadership functions: making the transformation meaningful, modeling the desired mind-sets and behavior, building a strong and committed team, and relentlessly pursuing impact. Together, these can powerfully generate the energy needed to achieve a successful performance transformation.

Source: McKinsey.com, June 2017
Authors: Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller.
About the authors: Carolyn Aiken is a consultant in McKinsey’s Toronto office, and Scott Keller is a principal in the Chicago office.
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Det här lockar unga talanger till ert företag!

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on May 2nd, 2017 by admin

Förmåner som hög lön och tjänstebil räcker inte.
Här är fyra mer oväntade sätt som kan locka talanger till ert företag.

I dag jobbar var tredje anställd svensk regelbundet på distans. Med hjälp av laptop, smartphone eller surfplatta samt bra molntjänster och digitala verktyg kan vi samarbeta smidigt – oavsett var kollegorna befinner sig.
– Om tio år kommer distansarbete att vara betydligt vanligare, säger Oscar Varga, Eurofound, en av författarna bakom en ny rapport om distansarbete i EU, ”Working anytime, anywhere”.

Den generation som kommer ut på arbetsmarknaden inom de närmsta tio åren kan nämligen hantera den digitala tekniken på ett helt nytt och mer självständigt sätt, menar författarna till rapporten.

Johanna Håkansson, HR Manager på Telenor Företag, ser en tydlig trend bland dessa unga: De som söker jobb i dag – särskilt de mest ambitiösa och eftertraktade – ställer större krav på arbetsgivaren än vad deras föräldrar gjorde.
– De funderar mer på vad arbetsgivaren kan göra för dem för att de ska hitta en bra balans mellan arbetet och sina fritidsintressen. De vill ha en större frihet att utföra sina arbetsuppgifter på tider som passar dem. Att de får bra digitala arbetsverktyg och vettiga tjänster kopplade till verktygen tar de för givet.

ladda ned (2)
Många arbetsgivare har hittills lockat till sig de främsta talangerna mycket tack vare sitt varumärke. Men nu räcker det inte med att erbjuda en hög lön och karriärmöjligheter – det måste till något mer, enligt Johanna Håkansson:
– Lön är fortfarande betydelsefullt, men viktigare är att medarbetaren ser möjligheter att själv styra över sin utveckling på företaget.

Till de företag som på allvar vill konkurrera om de bästa talangerna har hon följande råd:

1. Snabb och tät återkoppling
Skapa en ledarkultur som präglas av närvaro, coachning och snabb återkoppling. Unga är vana vid att få en omedelbar feedback, exempelvis i social medier, och ser denna regelbundna respons som en självklarhet.

2. Palett av utbildningar
Se till att era medarbetare har möjlighet att snabbt lära sig nya saker, på flera olika nivåer. Dels att det finns löpande utbildningar för den personliga utvecklingen, kombinerat med exempelvis ett mentorskap. Dels att det finns chans till kompetensutveckling, till exempel i hur man hanterar nya digitala verktyg och tjänster.

3. Miljö och värdegrund som matchar ett modernt arbetssätt
Om ni erbjuder möjligheten till ett friare arbetssätt så tänk på att anpassa både arbetsmiljön och företagets värdegrund till detta. Tänk exempelvis igenom hur kontoret är utformat – skapa kreativa rum, olika zoner och så vidare. Och tänk på hur ni beter er mot varandra i vardagen så att det blir både acceptabelt och hållbart att arbeta mer flexibelt för alla som vill det.

4. Digital infrastruktur – anpassad till just er arbetsplats
Hur bygger man en effektiv digital infrastruktur? Vilka tjänster och verktyg kan underlätta arbetet och samarbetet på just ert företag – och göra det mer attraktivt?

Källa: DI.se, maj 2017
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Transformation with a capital T

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on December 12th, 2016 by admin

Companies must be prepared to tear themselves away from routine thinking and behavior.

Imagine. You lead a large basic-resources business. For the past decade, the global commodities supercycle has fueled volume growth and higher prices, shaping your company’s processes and culture and defining its outlook. Most of the top team cannot remember a time when the business priorities were different. Then one day it dawns on you that the party is over.

Or imagine again. You run a retail bank with a solid strategy, a strong brand, a well-positioned branch network, and a loyal customer base. But a growing and fast-moving ecosystem of fintech players—microloan sites, peer-to-peer lenders, algorithm-based financial advisers—is starting to nibble at your franchise. The board feels anxious about what no longer seems to be a marginal threat. It worries that management has grown complacent.

In industry after industry, scenarios that once appeared improbable are becoming all too real, prompting boards and CEOs of flagging (or perhaps merely drifting) businesses to embrace the T-word: transformation.

transform-3Transformation is perhaps the most overused term in business. Often, companies apply it loosely—too loosely—to any form of change, however minor or routine. There are organizational transformations (otherwise known as org redesigns), when businesses redraw organizational roles and accountabilities. Strategic transformations imply a change in the business model. The term transformation is also increasingly used for a digital reinvention: companies fundamentally reworking the way they’re wired and, in particular, how they go to market.

What we’re focused on here—and what businesses like the previously mentioned bank and basic-resource companies need—is something different: a transformation with a capital T, which we define as an intense, organization-wide program to enhance performance (an earnings improvement of 25 percent or more, for example) and to boost organizational health. When such transformations succeed, they radically improve the important business drivers, such as topline growth, capital productivity, cost efficiency, operational effectiveness, customer satisfaction, and sales excellence. Because such transformations instill the importance of internal alignment around a common vision and strategy, increase the capacity for renewal, and develop superior execution skills, they enable companies to go on improving their results in sustainable ways year after year. These sorts of transformations may well involve exploiting new digital opportunities or accompany a strategic rethink. But in essence, they are largely about delivering the full potential of what’s already there.

The reported failure rate of large-scale change programs has hovered around 70 percent over many years. In 2010, conscious of the special challenges and disappointed expectations of many businesses embarking on transformations, McKinsey set up a group to focus exclusively on this sort of effort. In six years, our Recovery & Transformation Services (RTS) unit has worked with more than 100 companies, covering almost every geography and industry around the world. These cases—both the successes and the efforts that fell short—helped us distill a set of empirical insights about improving the odds of success. Combined with the right strategic choices, a transformation can turn a mediocre (or good) business into a world-class one.

Why transformations fail
Transformations as we define them take up a surprisingly large share of a leadership’s and an organization’s time and attention. They require enormous energy to realize the necessary degree of change. Herein lie the seeds of disappointment. Our most fundamental lesson from the past half-dozen years is that average companies rarely have the combination of skills, mind-sets, and ongoing commitment needed to pull off a large-scale transformation.

It’s true that across the economy as a whole, “creative destruction” has been a constant, since at least 1942, when Joseph Schumpeter coined the term. But for individual organizations and their leaders, disruption is episodic and sufficiently infrequent that most CEOs and top-management teams are more accomplished at running businesses in stable environments than in changing ones. Odds are that their training and practical experience predominantly take place in times when extensive, deep-rooted, and rapid changes aren’t necessary. For many organizations, this relatively placid experience leads to a “steady state” of stable structures, regular budgeting, incremental targets, quarterly reviews, and modest reward systems. All that makes leaders poorly prepared for the much faster-paced, more bruising work of a transformation. Intensive exposure to such efforts has taught us that many executives struggle to change gears and can be reluctant to lead rather than delegate when they face external disruption, successive quarters of flagging performance, or just an opportunity to up a company’s game.

Executives embarking on a transformation can resemble career commercial air pilots thrust into the cockpit of a fighter jet. They are still flying a plane, but they have been trained to prioritize safety, stability, and efficiency and therefore lack the tools and pattern-recognition experience to respond appropriately to the demands of combat. Yet because they are still behind the controls, they do not recognize the different threats and requirements the new situation presents. One manufacturing executive whose company learned that lesson the hard way told us, “I just put my head down and worked harder. But while this had got us out of tight spots in the past, extra effort, on its own, was not enough this time.”

Tilting the odds toward success
The most important starting point of a transformation, and the best predictor of success, is a CEO who recognizes that only a new approach will dramatically improve the company’s performance. No matter how powerful the aspirations, conviction, and sheer determination of the CEO, though, our experience suggests that companies must also get five other important dimensions right if they are to overcome organizational inertia, shed deeply ingrained steady-state habits, and create a new long-term upward momentum. They must identify the company’s full potential; set a new pace through a transformation office (TO) that is empowered to make decisions; reinforce the executive team with a chief transformation officer (CTO); change employee and managerial mind-sets that are holding the organization back; and embed a new culture of execution throughout the business to sustain the transformation. The last is in some ways the most difficult task of all.

Stretch for the full potential
Targets in most corporations emerge from negotiations. Leaders and line managers go back and forth: the former invariably push for more, while the latter point out all the reasons why the proposed targets are unachievable. Inevitably, the same dynamic applies during transformation efforts, and this leads to compromises and incremental changes rather than radical improvements. When managers at one company in a highly competitive, asset-intense industry were shown strong external evidence that they could add £250 million in revenuetransform-2 above what they themselves had identified, for example, they immediately talked down the proposed targets. For them, targets meant accountability—and, when missed, adverse consequences for their own compensation. Their default reaction was “let’s underpromise and overdeliver.”

To counter this natural tendency, CEOs should demand a clear analysis of the company’s full value-creation potential: specific revenue and cost goals backed up by well-grounded facts. We have found it helpful for the CEO and top team to assume the mind-set, independence, and tool kit of an activist investor or private-equity acquirer. To do so, they must step outside the self-imposed constraints and define what’s truly achievable. The message: it’s time to take a single self-confident leap rather than a series of incremental steps that don’t lead very far. In our experience, targets that are two to three times a company’s initial estimates of its potential are routinely achievable—not the exception.

Change the cadence
Experience has taught us that it’s essential to create a hub to oversee the transformation and to drive a cadence markedly different from the normal day-to-day one. We call this hub the transformation office.

What makes a TO work? One company with a program to boost EBITDA1 by more than $1 billion set up an unusual but highly effective TO. For a start, it was located in a circular room that had no chairs—only standing room. Around the wall was what came to be known, throughout the business, as “the snake”: a weekly tracker that marked progress toward the goal. By the end of the process, the snake had eaten its own tail as the company materially exceeded its financial target.

Each Tuesday, at the weekly TO meeting, work-stream leaders and their teams reviewed progress on the tasks they had committed themselves (the previous week) to complete and made measurable commitments for the next week in front of their peers. They used only handwritten whiteboard notes—no PowerPoint presentations—and had just 15 minutes apiece to make their points. Owners of individual initiatives within each work stream reviewed their specific initiatives on a rotating basis, so third- or fourth-level managers met the top leaders, further increasing ownership and accountability. Even the divisional CEO made a point of attending these TO meetings each time he visited the business, an experience that in hindsight convinced him that the TO process was more crucial than anything else to shifting the company’s culture.

For senior leaders, distraction is the constant enemy. Most prefer talking about new customers, M&A opportunities, or fresh strategic choices—hence the temptation at the top to delegate responsibility to a steering committee or an old-style program-management office charged with providing periodic updates. When top management’s attention is diverted elsewhere, line managers will emulate that behavior when they choose their own priorities.

Given these distractions, many initiatives move too slowly. Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time available, and business managers aren’t immune: given a month to complete a project requiring a week’s worth of effort, they will generally start working on it a week before the deadline. In successful transformations, a week means a week, and the transformation office constantly asks, “how can you move more swiftly?” and “what do you need to make things happen?” This faster clock speed is one of the most defining characteristics of successful transformations.

Collaborating with senior leaders across the entire business, the TO must have the grit, discipline, energy, and focus to drive forward perhaps five to eight major work streams. All of them are further divided into perhaps hundreds (even the low thousands) of separate initiatives, each with a specific owner and a detailed, fully costed bottom-up plan. Above all, the TO must constantly push for decisions so that the organization is conscious of any foot dragging when progress stalls.

Bring on the CTO
Managing a complex enterprise-wide transformation is a full-time executive-level job. It should be filled by someone with the clear authority to push the organization to its full potential, as well as the skills, experience, and even personality of a seasoned fighter pilot, to use our earlier analogy.

The chief transformation officer’s job is to question, push, praise, prod, cajole, and otherwise irritate an organization that needs to think and act differently. One CEO introduced a new CTO to his top team by saying, “Bill’s job is to make you and me feel uncomfortable. If we aren’t feeling uncomfortable, then he’s not doing his job.” Of course, the CTO shouldn’t take the place of the CEO, who (on the contrary) must be front and center, continually reinforcing the idea that this is my transformation.

Many leaders of traditional program-management offices are strong on processes but unable or unwilling to push the CEO and top team. The right CTO can sometimes come from within the organization. But one of the biggest mistakes we see companies making in the early stages is to choose the CTO only from an internal slate of candidates. The CTO must be dynamic, respected, unafraid of confrontation, and willing to challenge corporate orthodoxies. These qualities are harder to find among people concerned about protecting their legacy, pursuing their next role, or tiptoeing around long-simmering internal political tensions.

What does a CTO actually do? Consider what happened at one company mounting a billion-dollar productivity program. The new CTO became exasperated as executives focused on individual technical problems rather than the worsening cost and schedule slippage. Although he lacked any background in the program’s technical aspects, he called out the facts, warning the members of the operations team that they would lose their jobs—and the whole project would close—unless things got back on track within the next 30 days. The conversation then shifted, resources were reallocated, and the operations team planned and executed a new approach. Within two weeks, the project was indeed back on track. Without the CTO’s independent perspective and candor, none of that would have happened.

Remove barriers, create incentives
Many companies perform under their full potential not because of structural disadvantages but rather through a combination of poor leadership, a deficient culture and capabilities, and misaligned incentives. In good or even average times, when businesses can get away with trundling along, these barriers may be manageable. But the transformation will reach full potential only if they are addressed early transform-4and explicitly. Common problematic mind-sets we encounter include prioritizing the “tribe” (local unit) over the “nation” (the business as a whole), being too proud to ask for help, and blaming the external world “because it is not under our control.”

One public utility we know was paralyzed because its employees were passively “waiting to be told” rather than taking the initiative. Given its history, they had unconsciously decided that there was no advantage in taking action, because if they did and made a mistake, the results would make the front pages of newspapers. A bureaucratic culture had hidden the underlying cause of paralysis. To make progress, the company had to counter this very real and well-founded fear.

McKinsey’s influence model, one proven tool for helping to change such mind-sets, emphasizes telling a compelling change story, role modeling by the senior team, building reinforcement mechanisms, and providing employees with the skills to change. While all four of these interventions are important in a transformation, companies must address the change story and reinforcement mechanisms (particularly incentives) at the outset.

An engaging change story. Most companies underestimate the importance of communicating the “why” of a transformation; too often, they assume that a letter from the CEO and a corporate slide pack will secure organizational engagement. But it’s not enough to say “we aren’t making our budget plan” or “we must be more competitive.” Engagement with employees and managers needs to have a context, a vision, and a call to action that will resonate with each person individually. This kind of personalization is what motivates a workforce.

At one agribusiness, for example, someone not known for speaking out stood up at the launch of its transformation program and talked about growing up on a family farm, suffering the consequences of worsening market conditions, and observing his father’s struggle as he had to postpone retirement. The son’s vision was to transform the company’s performance out of a sense of obligation to those who had come before him and a desire to be a strong partner to farmers. The other workers rallied round his story much more than the financially based argument from the CEO.

Incentives. Incentives are especially important in changing behavior. In our experience, traditional incentive plans, with multiple variables and weightings—say, six to ten objectives with average weights of 10 to 15 percent each—are too complicated. In a transformation, the incentive plan should have no more than three objectives, with an outsized payout for outsized performance; the period of transformation, after all, is likely to be one of the most difficult and demanding of any professional career. The usual excuses (such as “our incentive program is already set” or “our people don’t need special incentives to give their best”) should not deter leaders from revisiting this critical reinforcement tool.

Nonmonetary incentives are also vital. One CEO made a point, each week, of writing a short handwritten note to a different employee involved in the transformation effort. This cost nothing but had an almost magical effect on morale. In another company, an employee went far beyond normal expectations to deliver a particularly challenging initiative. The CEO heard about this and gathered a group, including the employee’s wife and two children, for a surprise party. Within 24 hours, the story of this celebration had spread throughout the company.

No going back
Transformations typically degrade rather than visibly fail. Leaders and their employees summon up a huge initial effort; corporate results improve, sometimes dramatically; and those involved pat themselves on the back and declare victory. Then, slowly but surely, the company slips back into its old ways. How many times have frontline managers told us things like “we have undergone three transformations in the last eight years, and each time we were back where we started 18 months later”?

The true test of a transformation, therefore, is what happens when the TO is disbanded and life reverts to a more normal rhythm. What’s critical is that leaders try to bottle the lessons of the transformation as it moves along and to ingrain, within the organization, a repeatable process to deliver better and better results long after it formally ends. This often means, for example, applying the TO meetings’ cadence and robust style to financial reviews, annual budget cycles, even daily performance meetings—the basic routines of the business. It’s no good starting this effort near the end of the program. Embedding the processes and working approaches of the transformation into everyday activities should start much earlier to ensure that the momentum of performance continues to accelerate after the transformation is over.

Companies that create this sort of momentum stand out—so much that we’ve come to view the interlocking processes, skills, and attitudes needed to achieve it as a distinct source of power, one we call an “execution engine.” Organizations with an effective execution engine transform-1conspicuously continue to challenge everything, using an independent perspective. They act like investors—all employees treat company money as if it were their own. They ensure that accountability remains in the line, not in a central team or external advisers. Their focus on execution remains relentless even as results improve, and they are always seeking new ways to motivate their employees to keep striving for more. By contrast, companies doomed to fail tend to revert to high-level targets assigned to the line, with a minimal focus on execution or on tapping the energy and ideas of employees. They often lose the talented people responsible for the initial achievements to headhunters or other internal jobs before the processes are ingrained. To avoid this, leaders must take care to retain the enthusiasm, commitment, and focus of these key employees until the execution engine is fully embedded.

Consider the experience of one company that had realized a $4 billion (40 percent) bottom-line improvement over several years. The impetus to “go back to the well” for a new round of improvements, far from being a top-leadership initiative, came out of a series of conversations at performance-review meetings where line leaders had become energized about new opportunities previously considered out of reach. The result was an additional billion dollars of savings over the next year.

Nothing about our approach to transformations is especially novel or complex. It is not a formula reserved for the most able people and companies, but we know from experience that it works only for the most willing. Our key insight is that to achieve a transformational improvement, companies need to raise their ambitions, develop different skills, challenge existing mind-sets, and commit fully to execution. Doing all this can produce extraordinary and sustainable results.

Source: McKInsey.com.
Authors: Michael Bucy, Stephen Hall and Doug Yakola
About the authors: Michael Bucy is a partner in McKinsey’s Charlotte office; Stephen Hall is a senior partner in the London office; Doug Yakola is a senior partner of McKinsey’s Recovery & Transformation Services group and is based in the Boston office.
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