We’ve worked with numerous organizations to define, refine or refresh their strategy. Over and over we’ve seen leaders challenged to define a singular focus for the strategy. It’s as though leaders want to play baseball, football and soccer all at the same time with the same team. A strategy answers the question about which “game” you are playing. Strategies fail when people don’t know the rules, how to prepare or how to win. Here’s what’s needed for a superb strategy:
- A Winnable Game. The #1 driver of people is whether they are winning. This is a critical motivation factor. For example, we were doing the P90x3 workouts. Scott worked his way through all of them but Donna got really discouraged on a few of the workouts because she felt like she couldn’t successfully complete them (donkey kicks anyone!) It’s the same at work. Winning motivates people to work harder and do more. Who doesn’t like to be part of a winning team? This isn’t about personal goals, it’s the game that everyone is playing. Strategy makes it clear, how you win together.
- Clear Rules, Roles and Responsibilities that everyone understands. Decision rights are a critical component of organizational strategy. When decision rights are clear, better quality decisions are made, bottlenecks are reduced and agility is increased to respond to an ever changing environment. See the tip on the RACI for an approach to creating clarity on who does what. Just like sports has rules and responsibilities for each position, your organizational strategy must make it clear who plays what role and how they contribute to the win.
- A compelling (simple) scoreboard so everyone knows where they are. Strategy that requires complicated tracking mechanisms get easily abandoned. We’ve seen organizations that have twenty or thirty “success measures.” It’s tough to know where you stand in the midst of all that measuring. Think of a baseball scoreboard. While you may see individual statistics, strikeouts and more, the main focus is the points on the board. Does your team have a clear view to the “main score?”
- Celebration. Along the way to winning the game, celebrate the small victories. It keeps the team focused and the game exciting. In a performance driven culture, it’s easy to believe that everyone is supposed to do their job and they should only be singled out for extraordinary performance. While we aren’t suggesting giving out trophies for everyone just because, praise and recognition are essential to employee’s souls. Neuroscience shows that positive praise activates the same pleasure centers of the brain as an unexpected windfall (like winning the lottery.) Imagine going to a game where you didn’t cheer until the end of the game. Part of the fun is celebrating each point, touchdown or goal scored. Generate the same team spirit at work by celebrating along the way to winning.
Whether you are crafting a new strategy or looking to refresh your current strategy, make sure you are clear on the game you are playing, define the roles, rules and responsibilities, ensure your scoreboard is simple and take time to celebrate along the way.