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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Leaders Jumpstart Their Legacy




At some point in most companies, the CEO and Board of Directors have an initiative or legacy process to implement. However, many hesitate for a variety of reasons:

  • Staff will not understand
  • Staff and management are not ready
  • The initiative is too disruptive
  • It’s just not the right time

Why should a breakthrough initiative that could drive new revenue and create a competitive advantage be delayed? According to
Pellettiere (2006), 70 percent of CEO initiatives fail, and this trend will continue unless leadership can develop tools to gain enterprise wide alignment or identify the source of derailed initiatives.

Assessing an organization’s readiness to execute initiatives, including competitive intelligence, is a way to take a snap shot of the state of a corporation. Every company has a culture that supports the Board and CEO. However, several cultures coexist. In fact, many people cannot articulate these sub-cultures. It may be the unspoken policies that dictate behavior and outcomes more than written policies.

Uncovering unspoken policies helps leaders understand the perceived threats and weakness employees face as well as ignored strengths. In addition to identifying internal circumstances, an organizational assessment can expose external opportunities. When employees are asked their opinion about the new initiative before it is implemented, employees are more likely to buy in to it. They can also connect the dots between the initiative and unmet needs in the marketplace.

Measuring Readiness
Employees also hold intellectual capital to create new revenue streams or implement significant cost cutting measures that create a competitive edge. By assessing an organization’s preparedness for any large initiative, leaders have created more efficient processes to enhance the customer experience and to differentiate the enterprise from competitors. By measuring an organization’s readiness, leaders can both generate enterprise-wide alignment and mitigate the risk of an initiative failing. Businesses can create initiatives that drive new revenues while navigating through an environment of constant change by applying competitive intelligence tools that provide internal market research.

On a broader scale, all institutions are committed to reaching their goals and objectives. Unfortunately, the demands of the global economy can force them to make unforeseen changes in the middle of an initiative. They are navigating through a much more complex ever-changing community of technology, competitors, and customer demands than some of the existing business models can support. The speed at which change is occurring has caused chaos for many organizations.

For example, CEOs can gain insight and forecast their employees’ behavior and perception, such as where push back is likely to occur and why. They can then tailor their communications and correct factors that could disrupt the initiative. In addition, identifying and leveraging informal champions increases the initiative’s momentum. The Board and CEO require information that enables them to make decisions with a clear understanding of what is happening inside the enterprise in the same way market research is conducted to understand consumer behavior and needs. For example, when Jerry Levin, former CEO of AOL time Warner, merged AOL and Time Warner, he never gained buy-in from his organization prior to the deal because he did not think they would understand the vision. If he could have identified the factors that would have derailed the initiative as well as the factors that would have made it successful, he could have corrected inherent weaknesses and leveraged inconspicuous strengths.

For these initiatives, it can be time consuming for the CEO and Board to correctly identify potential problems. Personal interviews of employees to understand their sentiment as well as perceptions toward a new strategy is a great, however, generally not effective use of leaderships’ time. In addition, they run the risk that employees are just telling them that they want to hear. A more efficient way would be for the Board and CEO to take a virtual walk through of the entire company. If they could automate and scale the interviews, they could have a dashboard of the entire organization, whether there were 200 employees or 200,000.

Other intelligence that can be revealed is the gap in skills and competencies. For the company to move to its next level, new skills and competencies have to be developed from the Board down. An organizational assessment can uncover many of the skills and competencies that would have to be developed by the Board and CEO. This sets up a natural progression for delegation and continuous development of staff and management.  

As the inherent strengths and weaknesses are uncovered through an organizational assessment, management can develop strategies to correct inefficiencies. The company can map out a clear strategy for the future of the enterprise, how to get there, who will support it and how to prepare people for successful execution. Additionally, by engaging staff through an assessment, employees can identify unmet needs of customers and contribute (take ownership) to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

With an organizational assessment, you can mine untapped intellectual capital, align the entire organization on a single mission and make your employees your competitive advantage. A competitive intelligence tool that assesses the readiness of an enterprise is an effective process to incorporate into an organization’s structure. It’s a way to look at the entire company as an individual with a multi-faceted personality. With insight into what is and will happen, Board members and CEOs can be armed to implement their greatest ideas and execute breakthrough initiatives.

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, connect through my blog www.turnaroundip.blogspot.com.


References: Pellettiere, V. (2006). “Organization self-assessment to determine the readiness and risk for a planned change.” Organizational Development Journal, v24/4, p38-43

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