Leading the journey to sustainable excellence requires the flexible combination of leveraging the forces and facilitators of change with leadership activities and behaviors, organizational culture, and individual leader characteristics. The Leadership & Design Blueprint integrates the Design Framework into the Leadership Framework providing a “flexible framework” to guide the [re]design and transform your organization to achieve sustainable excellence.
1. Forces for Change
While the motivation for change varies widely, there must be enough tension to overcome the inertia of satisfaction with the status quo. What are the external “pushing” forces for change? What are the “pulling” forces of change? What is the vision of a new desired future? Are these sufficient to overcome the inertia of the status quo? How can you leverage these forces to move your organization forward?
2. Stakeholders Value
The focus of a transformation to sustainable excellence is to increase the value created for multiple stakeholders including the workforce, customers, investors, suppliers and partners, community, and environment. The focus on stakeholder needs and relationships helps provide a common alignment point for the strategy, systems, scorecard, and overall organization design for sustainable excellence. The task here is to understand the stakeholders’ needs and desires.
3. Compelling Directive
The needs of the stakeholders inform the creation of a “compelling directive.” The format of the compelling directive varies but typically consists of the organization’s purpose, mission, vision, and values. The vision describes the desired reality. The vision is an essential part of creating positive tension, a key force of change to overcome resistance to change. The compelling directive builds a bridge between the stakeholders and the strategy.
4. Focused Strategy
How will the organization achieve the desired reality described in the compelling directive? The focused strategy translates the compelling directive and stakeholders’ needs into more specific goals, objectives, and clear expectations. The key here is to focus on a FEW key goals at a particular point in time. The focused strategy is continuously evolving to meet the current requirements and challenges. The focused strategy aligns the priorities through the organization and provides the foundation to enable, empower, and engage the workforce.
5. Enable, Empower, Engage
While many leaders claim that their people are their most important asset, their actions often tell a different story. High-performing organizations develop and engage their workforce to accomplish the strategy. Creating an engaged workforce consists of (a) acquiring and placing talent, (b) developing (enabling) and empowering people, (c) involving and engaging the workforce at all levels, and (d) addressing the whole person.
6. [Re]Design Systems
The focused strategy also drives the implementation of action plans to accomplish the strategy. There are typically two types of strategy deployment projects — those focused on new products and services and those focused on building the organization systems to develop, produce, deliver, and the products and services. The Design Framework combined with a focus on system design provides the structure to design, develop, and deploy any new or redesigned initiative or system in the organization. The only way we know if our redesign efforts are improving performance is to measure performance.
7. Comprehensive Scorecard
The progress and performance improvements resulting from the deployment of the action plans are measured and tracked by a comprehensive scorecard that measures the stakeholders, strategy, and systems. The comprehensive scorecard goes beyond a simple bottom line to a deeper understanding of the organization as a system. Also, a comprehensive scorecard includes both current performance and the performance trends over time. The scorecard is designed to facilitate a dialogue during the periodic organization performance reviews.
8. Organization Performance Review
Scorecard results are analyzed and periodically reviewed by the leaders at all levels who then revise the action plans and operations as necessary to accomplish the strategy. While much of the learning during these reviews is limited to single-loop learning and keeping things on track, the most value is derived when the dialogue results in an examination of the underlying assumptions and double-loop learning that enables the team to address root causes and prevent similar future problems. This fact-based approach to management includes organization performance analysis that informs the reinforcement of the desired behaviors.
9. Align, Coach, Appreciate
There is an old saying, “What gets measured gets done and what gets rewarded gets repeated.” Reinforcing behavior is based on progress towards the overall strategy and includes recognition, rewards, promotions, and sometimes the removal of individuals. All too often, incentive systems are counter-productive and drive behaviors that are inconsistent with the overall compelling directive and strategy. High-performing organizations align their incentives to ensure individual performance is supporting the best overall system performance.
10. Learn and Improve
Successful leaders of transformation are never satisfied with the organization’s performance and learn from experience. To fully develop the organization’s systems, culture and individuals requires that the organization learn not only from their successes but also from their failures. Organizations that have achieved sustainable excellence by learning from success and failure did so using four common methods or approaches: strategic management cycle, organization assessment and improvement, continuous improvement, and benchmarking. These methods are often integrated into the other eight leadership system components.
11. Collaborative Leadership Style
The framework includes leader behaviors that support the leadership system to achieve sustainable excellence. You might consider these the art of leading transformation — or HOW leaders accomplished the activities. The collaborative style includes nine behaviors. Leaders establish their credibility by role modeling the behaviors and actions they want to see in the new organization. This style along with the activities shapes the culture.
12. Culture of Service
Ultimately, sustaining excellence requires that the new systems, processes, and practices become habitual and embedded in the culture. Culture is composed of values and norms that are manifested in the rituals, heroes, and symbols. Organizations that have achieved sustainable excellence have five cultural characteristics in common. They are a complementary combination of valued employees who trust each other and work as a team. At the same time, this trusting team is focused on delivering excellence to the customer. In the end, individuals working together are the essence of any sustainable change.
13. The Individual Leader
Organization architects have five common characteristics that increase the odds of achieving and sustaining high performance: purpose and meaning, humility tempered by confidence, integrity, systems perspective, and motivational and attitudinal patterns. While the other leadership components of system and style are visible and observable, this one is below the surface. What would it take to make this leadership style authentic for you? What motivates you to do the key activities?
14. Facilitators of Change
Some leaders of successful change doubted they could do it. It can seem overwhelming. There are a few key facilitators of change to help you along the journey. First, you are not alone so start by developing your team of organization architects. Second, begin with the senior leadership team so you will have credibility and the personal knowledge to lead the journey. Then develop a plan to guide your [re]design and transformation. There is an old saying, “If it has been done, it must be possible.”
Enjoy the journey!