In part 3 of this 4 part series of blogs I covered the importance of PACE to improve organisational effectiveness and speed and specifically Communication:
PACE = Planning + Alignment + Communication + Execution
The fourth and final part of The Need for Speed ~ Driving Pace in Your Organisation will focus on Execution of your plan to achieve your One Magnificent Goal, your OMG!
It’s true. And as the hallucinations of countless business leaders have proved, knowing what you want to do or where you want the company to be may be less than half the battle.
a) Co-ordination and control of programmes and projects
Failure to execute has several root causes. Below are several common reasons why companies fail to execute their strategic plans fully:
- Poor prioritisation of resource – Every goal cannot be the top priority, but we set ourselves up for failure by treating them all as if they were equal. Organisations lack the energy or focus to take on too many goals at once. Even if the capacity were there to take on unlimited amounts of work associated with implementation of strategic goals – it is a bad idea to over extend.
- Lack of detail planning to support goal achievement – Detailed planning involves breaking down work into smaller parts. It is far easier to solve a small puzzle than to launch into solving a massive one. Inch Pebbles not Mile Stones!
- Poor communication and coordination – Failure to communicate and educate is a huge factor in many failed plans. Employees who are responsible and accountable for their scope of execution must understand what is to be done, when and how that affects the overall outcome.
- Strategy and culture misalignment – Execution cannot be planned without consideration of the organisation’s culture.
- Accountability missing from goals – Everyone is accountable in accomplishing their individual tasks that are required to achieve the overarching OMG and some, including the CEO, may be accountable for reinforcement of the tasks.
- Poor governance – Governance enables organisations to manage the interrelationships of all underlying initiatives comprising their OMG. Governance also provides the boundaries and check points needed to keep programs in alignment with the plan.
- Ill-defined initiatives – Once ambiguity creeps into the scope of any initiative, it leads to confusion and failure in execution. The language used to state goals is usually where the problems start. Initiatives must be carefully constructed in order to be crisp and well understood. In addition, they must be measurable.
To be successful a project must:
· Deliver the outcomes and benefits required by the organisation
· Create and implement deliverables that meet agreed requirements;
· Meet time targets and stay within financial budgets;
· Involve all the right people;
· Make best use of resources in the organisation and elsewhere;
· Take account of changes in the way the organisation operates;
· Manage any risks that could jeopardise success;
· Take into account the needs of staff and other stakeholders who will be impacted by the changes brought about by the project.
· Keep stakeholders and staff in the loop as to your progress and get them ready for any impacts of the project.
b) Ownership and accountability
At work, people who have a high level of accountability will take initiative to ensure the success of a project, provide early warning of potential problems, and try to resolve a problem even if it is not their fault.
One reason we hesitate to tackle the accountability problem in a timely way is a lack of clarity on what the person is accountable for in the first place. Discussions about accountability can be straightforward and potential conflicts less intense when everyone knows ahead of time what is expected and how success will be measured. Establishing this clarity also reduces the likelihood of having to have the discussions in the first place.
Being accountable comes naturally to some people. For many of us, however, the more natural tendency is to justify and explain why we are not responsible when things go wrong. Although you cannot change human nature, those of us in a managerial or leadership role can help create an environment that enables others to operate at a higher level of responsibility. The key is to set people up for success by clarifying expectations up front and building in time to make course corrections before the deadline. This helps avoid the need to make excuses.
When targets are missed, asking three questions can solve the problem: What can you do right now to get back on track? How did you contribute to this situation? What can you do in the future to ensure this will not happen again? This approach doesn’t try to pinpoint blame and helps minimise the threat to the person’s self-image. These three questions, along with techniques to deal with a defensive response effectively, also minimises the need to make excuses as you and the other person collaborate on finding a solution.
c) Rapid and Effective Decision Making
There are three things you can do to improve the quality and speed of decisions.
- Make sure that people closest to the action are making the decisions. This can require a change in organisational structure and, when this is not possible, empowering people and holding them accountable for taking the initiative and addressing issues when they arise.
- Involve the right people in decisions. This helps ensure that you include perspectives and experiences other than your own and also helps fill in relevant data that you might not possess.
- Use an objective, systematic process so that you won’t let emotion or bias cloud the issues or simply default to the kinds of decisions you’ve made in the past. This will also force you to incorporate risk assessment in your decision-making.
These last two actions ensure that we have access to a range of perspectives and information that might not otherwise be available to us, and increases the likelihood that we will be more thoughtful when making choices.
Organisations that are the best at execution also create operating plans that are coordinated across departments and levels, expect and encourage top performance from everyone, hold people accountable for results, make high-quality decisions by ensuring that the right people are talking about the right things at the right time.
In summary, PACE – Planning, Alignment, Communication and Execution will drive speed in your organisation. You as a leader will need High Energy and Focus to keep PACE on track and you’ll need a strong team around you to deliver your OMG. The rewards in achieving your OMG will be worth it!
That concludes the final part of The Need for Speed ~ Driving Pace in Your Organisation. If you missed the first three parts please click Part 1 – Planning, Part 2 – Alignment and Part 3 – Communication.