Can You Rely on Your Corporate Culture?

reliable

Facts from paper are not the same as facts from people. The reliability of the people giving you the facts is as important as the facts themselves.  ~Harold S. Geneen

Reliability is an important issue in our fast-paced, modern lifestyles.  We rely on our smartphones and most of the time they work perfectly.  Not quite the same level of reliability when it comes to our network provider service. Dead zones, dropped calls, texts and voice mail messages that arrive hours or days late. We require reliability to function and manage out day-to-day activities.

We rely on our banking and credit card services for accuracy and reliability to reduce the hassle of financial dealings, large and small.  But the rise in alternative Financial-Technology players in the areas of payments (PayPal, Apple Pay), loans and even money transfer and forex services is the result of the traditional banks being more and more unreliable in terms of service and functionality.

Probably the major transformation over my lifetime in reliability is the automobile.  When56 chevy I was in high school in the early 1960’s my car was constantly breaking down and in need of checking for oil leaks, radiator overheating, battery drains and a hundred other annoyances. I couldn’t reliably just get in and drive for days without some sort of problem. And a little later I bought myself a sports car, a Lotus Esprit (a short fling at pretending to lotusbe James Bond I guess). Beautiful car.  Fast and sexy.  But totally unreliable.  Several times it broke down on the Los Angeles Freeway, during rush hour. I spent a fortune just getting it to be reliable.

Today, even though automobiles are much more complex, with both mechanical and electronic components, most of us experience near perfect reliability.  We don’t think twice about loading the kids and dogs in the car and heading to the beach or the mountains. We expect and get reliability. And life works when the things around us are reliable.

MIL_Marines_Few_Proud_lgAnd it’s not just machines or technology that can be reliable. A good example of organizational reliability is the Marine Corps.  Think about the Marines: the few, the proud. They have a connected community that is second to none, and it comes from the early indoctrination of every member of the Corps and the clear communication of their purpose and value system. It is completely clear that they are privileged to be joining an elite community that is committed to improvising, adapting, and overcoming in the face of any adversity. The culture is so strong that it glues the community together and engenders a sense of pride that makes them unparalleled. The shared and strong culture is what each Marine relies on when lives are on the line.

And reliability brings peace of mind.

Can you rely on your corporate culture?

In a thousand ways, day after day, executives, managers and employees trust the corporate culture to support them as they work towards delivering products and services to customers and clients. We rely on the culture to be aligned with the strategy and organisation structure.  We rely on the shared and habitual behaviours used by employees and our leadership to deliver the results and work environment required.

Corporate Culture is the company DNA.  A unique combination of behaviours, beliefs, assumptions and business processes (formal and informal) that over time have become the “habitual” approach management and employees use in solving business problems and interacting with each other, customers, clients and suppliers.

But the sad fact is, most of us take the culture for granted and expect that it is reliable and aligned with our internal needs and the needs of customers.  And, like my old car, unless alignment and reliability are built-in and maintained diligently, there are often too many breakdowns.  Breakdowns in communications, breakdowns in trust, breakdowns in deadlines, breakdowns in quality, breakdowns in service.  Most times the corporate culture is an unreliable asset, which quickly translates into a liability.

Do you know what your culture is? Do you know why your culture has certain strengths and weaknesses.

If you don’t understand your corporate culture, you don’t understand your business.

What will it take to make your corporate culture a reliable asset and not a liability?

 

Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

e: john@johnrchildress.com
Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

On Amazon: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

John also writes thriller novels!

 

 

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Corporate Culture Assessments . . . .Why?

 

old new culture

“To get to where you want to go, you must first know your starting point”

Corporate Culture Assessments are definitely the rage in business at the moment.  There are over 70 different culture profile assessments on the markets, some focused on the entire organisation, others designed for niche segments of a culture, such as safety or risk.

QuinnThe objective of these assessments is to determine the current (and often the desired) culture using a survey based on “validated” questions designed to describe your company culture, it’s areas of strength and weakness. The pitch from consultants and academics is that by using a culture assessment you will know your current culture and where improvements to the culture should be focused  Many of the currently available culture assessments are based on the original work of Professors Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn in the early 1990s and the concepts of culture assessment, culture mapping and culture change are described in their landmark book, Diagnosing and Changing Organiztional Culture.

What vs Why

I have looked at hundreds of culture profiles, off-the-shelf as well as custom developed, and with each one I am bothered by the feeling that I am “seeing” the culture (or at least a snapshot of it), but not really “understanding” the culture.  It’s the difference between What is happening versus Why it is happening.

He who knows why will always lead those who just know what!  ~Thomas D. Willhite

Take the culture on an offshore oil rig for example.  Here is a place where a massive investment in safety training and education takes place long before an individual steps onto the rig for their first work assignment. They have taken classes, they have watched videos, they have had written exams and hands on experience with the equipment and situations.  There are several large global organisations devoted to safety training in the offshore oil industry.  The culture surveys undertaken by many oil companies show the organisation in the top 10% for safety cultures, having a strong safety culture. Everyone knows What to do.

burning-oil-rig-explosion-fire-photo11Yet employees still perform unsafe practices and there have been several unfortunate safety-related catastrophes, like the Exxon Valdez spill or the DeepWater Horizon oil rig explosion. The real question about the culture is not What the culture is, but Why people behave the way they do. A culture profile, no matter how “valid” or how large the database and how strong the Norms, does not tell you Why people behave in certain ways.

A similar situation exists inside many global banking organisations. Traders and executives have lots of training on financial regulations, ethics, values and many must have passed several industry certified examinations that prove they know what and how to  behave in accordance with regulations and ethics.  Yet over the past 6 years the banking industry has been fined over $120 billion for unethical and illegal activities.  It would be stupid to suggest that the cause is a lack of knowledge and that more training is needed.  They know what is right and wrong.  What the leadership at the top of big banks don’t know is Why their organisations behave unethically!

The key to reshaping or improving culture is knowing Why!

When someone asks me to assess their culture, I usually avoid the large, multiple question assessments on the market and start by asking,

  1. What are the behaviours causing you a business problem? The list that comes back often contains behaviours like:
    • The culture is too risk averse
    • People aren’t innovative and don’t bring up new ideas or new solutions
    • There is poor information sharing between functions
    • Not speaking up in meetings and then complaining after the meeting
    • Not bringing up potential unsafe or unethical issues to their bosses
    • Going along with poor decisions without challenging them
    • Not being honest in performance reviews
    • Not coaching and developing people to improve
  2. Then for each one I use conduct a Root-Cause analysis and use the 5-Why process.

5-whys

Before long, we have gone past knowing what the culture is like to a deeper understanding of Why the culture is the way it is and where the real levers for culture change reside.

And 90% of the time, the answer is Not more training, but usually lies in the three major levers of culture: Leadership Behaviours, Informal Social Networks (Subcultures) and Internal Work Policies and Processes. Somewhere inside your company one or more of these levers are promoting and supporting behaviours that become habitual and institutionalised into your current corporate culture.

If you really want to understand what drives your culture and where the culture change levers are, then keep asking Why until you get to the root cause.  You will be surprised how insightful the final few Why answers can be!

Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

e: john@johnrchildress.com
Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

On Amazon: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

John also writes thriller novels!

 

 

 

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Culture Change and The Long Tail

10.LongTail

Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, wrote an article in 2004, The Long Tail, which then became a book, published by 2006. Online video retailing offers a great contemporary example of the Pareto probability distribution (hence the name Long Tail) tail2where a few blockbuster movies earn large sums of revenue while the vast majority of movies earn very little. What made Anderson’s book so noteworthy was he showed that with the advent of easily available online access to video movies, sales grew because niche viewers with specific tastes in movies could now purchase or rent obscure titles that rarely reached the box office. Thus online sales soared now that a large number of titles were easily available.

Thus the rush in marketing to mass-customisation and a focus on the long tail as an untapped source of revenue. Rather than just a few popular titles, brands or styles, customers could have access to a much wider range and satisfy their individual interests.

The Long Tail in Culture Change . . .

Most culture change gurus and academics tend to use the Kurt Lewin three-step model for Slide068designing change programs. The model, Unfreeze – Realign – Refreeze, is based on the belief that the majority of employees need to change the way they work/behave in order for culture change to take place and the best way to do that is through putting a critical mass of employees through change workshops, usually beginning with the senior team but then quickly getting large numbers of employees involved.  The belief here is that unless a large number of employees quickly change their work habits and behaviours, the desired culture change won’t take root and desired changes will be overcome with old habits (the old culture). Thus the plethora of top-down, large-scale culture change workshops and change interventions.

We have to get everyone into culture change workshops quickly or the change won’t happen.

Bell ChangeWrong!  This approach to culture change is based on the classical view that people in organisations fit into a bell-shaped curve in relation to their ability to change and their change “readiness”.  In other words, the large group of employees in the middle are only mildly ready or able to change and the entire middle group needs to be shifted into a new set of cultural behaviours.  If only a few change, the inertia of the middle mass of employees will prevent the culture change from taking hold.

That’s Not How It Is . . .

The problem is, that’s not how behaviour change takes place inside organisations. Training, especially top-down mass training workshops rarely change behaviours.  At best they impart information and momentary motivation.

So . . .  How does behaviour change inside organisations?  Just like it does in any group or Jimmy Hendrixsociety; through key influencers, trusted and respected peers who begin to adopt new behaviour patterns.  Once the trusted peer starts doing things differently, social pressure and the human need to “fit in” takes over and others in the group tend to adopt the new behaviours as well.  For example, when I was in High School in the 60’s, the Hippie movement began and people started wearing flowered shirts and bell bottom trousers.  This was quite a big change from the trim Levis and white shirts of the 50’s generation.

But in the short space of a few years bell bottom pants and tie-dye shirts were commonplace among the young generation in colleges and high schools.  No one proclaimed it “National Bell Bottom” decade.  It was a social contagion spread by a few key influencers, in this case the rock bands and other youth idols.  People whom the vast majority of the young generation had never met, yet trusted and respected.

Socail Long tailNow, back to the long tail.  Rather than take a Bell-shaped curve approach to corporate culture change, which doesn’t really work, look at the challenge differently.  By building a graph based on internal trust and social influence, we see the organisation differently.  Most people are in the long tail, but there are a few highly influential individuals, who may not show up on the official organisation chart, but who have the trust and respect of a vast number of individuals.  These are your change agents if you know how to find them and know how to recruit them to help support a culture change.

The sad truth is, most senior executives and even HR managers don’t know who these highly influential and trusted individuals are!

First step in culture change? Find the respected and trusted social influencers!

Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

e: john@johnrchildress.com
Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

On Amazon: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

John also writes thriller novels!

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Needed Urgently: Stewardship and Statesmanship

seedling009

There is no ownership of the future.  There is only stewardship.

Dont teach HBSQuite a few years ago there was a best selling business book that caught the attention of the more thoughtful in business and the executive ranks.  The book, What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School, by Mark McCormick, founder and CEO of International Management Group (IMG) was published in 1984 and spent 21 weeks in the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best seller list. The book was full of what McCormick called “people sense” and shared his tips, experiences and insights on such non-MBA issues as sales, negotiation, reading others and yourself, and executive time management. Many of these important people topics are now part of newer MBA curricula, thanks to McCormick’s common sense approach to business success. As an alternative to the financially focused MBA business curriculums at the time, McCormick’s approach was badly needed and hit a receptive chord.

I suggest it might be time for a new approach again.

Two words jump into my mind and indicate a sea change from how business, and politics, is carried out today.  The first word is STEWARDSHIP:

At this point they don’t teach “stewardship” in MBA classes (please correct me if someone out there at a business school has a mandatory class on Stewardship).  According to the definition from the international standard for ISO 20121,

Stewardship is the “responsibility for sustainable development shared by all those whose actions affect environmental performance. economic activity, and social progress, reflected as both a value and a practice by individuals, organisations. communities, and competent authorities.”

That is, taking a holistic concern for all factors that impact our ability to thrive and survive on this planet.  Not just quarterly returns.  Not just maximising shareholder value.  Not just satisfying customer wants.  It’s the ability to integrate all these (and more) factors and come up with a win-win-win solution (win for the company, win for customers, win for communities, win for the environment).

Stewardship is hard work and not always popular, especially with Wall Street analysts, but in the words of Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever,“profit is not a purpose, it’s an end product. I always want a deeper result.”  And Unilever is investing heavily in finding ways to make good products in a sustainable way. Plus they are big supporters of the international charity, WaterAid, bringing fresh water and sanitation to underdeveloped communities. It’s not a gift, it’s responsible business and good stewardship; the healthier and more prosperous a community, the more likelihood that they will use Unilever products.

Stewardship and sustainable business practices are the best defence against short-term business models.

The other word that comes into play when thinking about a sea change in the way politics is handled is STATESMANSHIP.

 Statesmanship  “is the practice of a Statesman, usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. Statesmanship also conveys a quality of leadership that organically brings people together and of eldership, a spirit of caring for others and for the whole.”

142664-president-robert-mugabeTo me, Statesmanship is the polar opposite to politics as practiced today. To many, politics is a win-lose game where “might makes right”. Plus, it seems to be a path to power and wealth.  The political behaviour of many African “elected” leaders is an extreme example, where the country’s natural resources are pillaged and sold, with much of the proceeds going to the President and his family, who all hold high government positions. The wealth of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, President of the Republic of Angola is estimated at $20 Billion, while the majority of his people live on less than $2 a day.  Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe “has turned once-rich Zimbabwe into his personal playground, killing most of his rivals and looting Zimbabwe for good measure. His net worth stands at $5 to $10 billion thanks to his country’s diamond deposits.”

There is also a need for greater statesmanship at all levels of global politics.  The UN is pretty ineffective and dysfunctional due to countries putting personal interest above the good of the whole, and upwards of 30% of US foreign Ambassadors are political appointees with no foreign service experience, but big donors to the President’s political funds.

Words are powerful change agents.  Spend some time thinking about Stewardship and Statesmanship and see how your views, and actions, shift. And let’s see if we can add these ways of being into the MBA curriculums and political party thinking.

Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

e: john@johnrchildress.com
Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

On Amazon: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

John also writes thriller novels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Corporate Culture is Like Concrete

concrete 2

“They swore by concrete. They built for eternity.”
― Gunter Grass

Concrete is the most widely used building material, by tonnage, in the world today. And it’s not a modern building material either. The first known use of concrete was some 12.000 years ago and many of the Roman buildings incorporated this easy to use material, resulting is new architectural concepts and designs, as well as long-lasting structures.

220px-Rome-Pantheon-Interieur1

PantheonAerialThe Roman Pantheon is one of the most spectacular early buildings made of concrete.

What makes concrete so useful in both ancient and modern construction is the fact that it starts out as a fluid solution able to take the form of anything it is poured into, yet soon turns solid, with great density and strength. One drawback of concrete is that it is extremely difficult to pour new concrete onto old, hard concrete and get a good connection. The two different aged concretes don’t seem to bond together and this creates on of the structural weaknesses, thus the use of internal rebar in most modern concrete structures.

Concrete and Corporate Culture:

In many ways, corporate culture is similar to concrete.  Early in the development of a company the values, beliefs and personalities of the founders easily blend together to form the informal “rules” of how we should work together and treat customers. These working rules and ways of behaving are soon codified into processes, policies, and procedures. Before long, there are policy hand books and new employees look to the older, established staff for clues on how to fit in. And before long, the social fabric and informal rules of how to behave and fit in take on a strength and life of their own. The culture tends to harden, behaviour patterns and ways of working are “set in stone” so to speak.

Once a culture ossifies and hardens, new ideas and ways of working, new procedures, even new technologies, are difficult to blend in. Like the poor bonding between old and new concrete, the old culture tends to reject new ideas.  They don’t stick.  People who don’t fit the culture tend to leave.  Research into why newly hired executives leave a company after only a few months reveals a culture rejection mechanism at work.

And culture change programmes also tend to fail.  The original culture is so pervasive that it has seeped into every element of daily life inside a company and hardened like concrete. A consultant-inspired top down culture change workshop fails to reshape the old culture. Rebranding exercises, new logos, store renovations, new CRM software and developing new “Core Values” are all weak attempts to change the old culture.

Even in drastic circumstances, like a near bankruptcy and turnaround, financial reengineering and a new business model may save the company from demise, but the old culture tends to remain and soon the resuscitated company is back on the doorstep of death again. Continental Airlines was approaching its third bankruptcy in 1994, each of the two previous infusions of cash and new leadership didn’t change the solid rock culture of negativity and cynicism.

There are ways to reshape corporate culture, but it is not an easy task and requires a unique knowledge of the levers that most influence and reshape ingrained, solidified behaviours.

 

Dilbert culture change

 

Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

e: john@johnrchildress.com
Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

On Amazon: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

John also writes thriller novels!

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A Reality Test for the Chairman: The Final Exam

not aligned

Culture is a metaphor, not a P&L line item, however it impacts every item on the P&L !

The Final Exam

Sit in a quiet place, turn off your phone, take out a pencil or pen and a clean sheet of paper.  You have as much time as you need!

Here’s the Situation:

All the vice-presidents hate the new CEO, as do most of the executives. He demands unthinkable hours, he’s verbally tough and abusive on his direct reports, and will not tolerate poor performance. He was once so unhappy with the response to a question about missed goals from a female VP that he cleared off her desk by picking it up and tipping it over. He is rude to subordinates, foul-mouthed in meetings and humiliates staff in public.

However, this particular bank had been a loser for several years prior to the new CEO coming on board. For the past six straight quarters since he arrived there have been record profits, record growth and record high share price. The Board and shareholders gave him a standing ovation at the last AGM after he presented the prior year results and projections for the upcoming year. Performance is up and the senior team and other executives are threatening to quit!

If culture is so important and impacts performance; if organizations are shadows of their leaders; if the way we treat each other trickles down to how we treat customers; and if a big part of culture is behavior, what would you do as the Chairman of the Board?

How would you respond if you were the Chairman of the Board?

PS: this is NOT at trick question!

Culture is like the water in a fish tank, let it get dirty or contaminated and everything inside suffers. And the smell is horrible!

LeverageThis is the final chapter in my new book – LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culturea book specially written to help the CEO understand what all the fuss it about culture and why culture matters to the bottom line.

The statement on cover of Leverage will give you an indication of how I approach this subject:

Few concepts in business contain so many powerful truths, and at the same time so much crap, as corporate culture.

 

Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

e: john@johnrchildress.com
Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

On Amazon: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

John also writes thriller novels!

Posted in consulting, corporate culture, John R Childress, leadership, Organization Behavior, strategy execution | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The New CEO’s Secret Weapon

If change is happening on the outside faster than on the inside, the end is in sight.  -Jack Welch, former CEO, GE

One of the most difficult jobs in modern business is that of the incoming CEO.  As soon as the appointment is announced it seems that everyone desperately needs to talk to the new CEO, even before she officially starts.

Consultants want to pitch their capabilities, suppliers want an audience, disgruntled customers demand air time, and most of all the members of the senior team line up to extol the virtues of their departments and their importance to the success of the enterprise.  Employees seem to be way down the list but they want to talk to the new CEO as well about a host of issues that obviously the previous CEO ignored. And if that wasn’t enough, the Chairman of the Board, all the Non-Executive Directors and of course the analysts demand quality time with the new CEO.

The most interesting thing about the people wanting time from the new CEO is that they see their job as delivering an “accurate” picture of the state of affairs, yet in reality they only have a few pieces of information, a few pieces of the puzzle, not the whole picture.  And they come with an agenda, sometimes hidden, most often blatantly obvious.

And when all these pieces are laid out, they don’t seem to fit together to make a clear picture. Just like a bottom up budget there are more issues, agendas and ideas than the new CEO can effectively deal with at one time.  It is important for the new CEO has to make sense of this pile of information; some pieces are clearly important and some aren’t. No wonder many new CEOs fend off as many meetings as possible until they can get their feet on the ground and see for themselves what is going on.

Time is the Enemy of the New CEO

But as always, the critical element is time.  And of all people the new CEO does not have the luxury of time to dig in fully, explore all the loose ends, and most importantly, think!

There are various estimates by academics on just what the grace period is for a new CEO. Some say six months, some 100 days, some 3 months before the new CEO must produce a solid assessment and most importantly, a workable go-forward plan. But on one thing everyone agrees, in the past few years the “grace” period has gotten shorter and shorter.

The New CEO’s Secret Weapon

There is, however, a secret weapon in the arsenal of the new CEO if they seek it out.  That weapon is an understanding of the leadership culture of the organisation they inherit. The culture at the top, one of the most influential subcultures in the entire organization, has a great influence on all aspects of the business, from strategy execution to company pride and teamwork.

Organisations are shadows of their leaders.  That’s the good news and the bad news!

The problem with understanding the leadership culture is that it is mostly invisible, especially to insiders.

“We don’t know who first discovered water, but it certainly wasn’t fish. They are in it every day and can’t see it.”

The same is true for a long tenured senior executive team and the leadership subculture.

For the CEO to get a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the leadership subculture, I suggest a few key questions and a few key activities to spring open the padlock and reveal its contents.

Here are a few of our favourite non-obvious questions for a new CEO:

  1. Do you know the senior leadership subculture you are coming into?
  2. Will it support or hinder your vision and goals for the organisation?
  3. How well does the senior team work together?
  4. Are they focused on shared strategic objectives or just their own functional (silo) goals?
  5. Does this company have a best practice process for strategy delivery?
  6. Ia this a culture of personal accountability or a blame culture?

A CEO client once remarked:

There is no strategy without execution and there is no execution without leadership!

The Importance of a Senior Team Offsite In the First 90-Days

The quickest way to get a handle on the senior leadership subculture is to get the entire senior team together at a 3 or 4 day away meeting early on. (1-day is not enough time for executives to show their real character, 3-4 days is best)

If you use a robust process for strategic thinking and follow these few questions in sequence, you will quickly learn about the leadership culture.  Just watch how they behave, as individuals and as a group!

  • What is our strategic intent?
  • What are our shared objectives as a team?
  • What are the few breakthrough objectives we should be focusing on to grow this business, better service customers, and beat the competition?
  • What are the fewest metrics we need to run this business properly?
  • What projects/programs do we need to deliver on our strategic agenda?
  • What projects/programs are running that don’t fit this agenda?
  • Who is going to be accountable for what?

You will very quickly learn the type of leadership culture you have inherited.  And you will also quickly discover who’s on the bus and who isn’t. You will also learn a lot about the business from the people who “should” know the most.

During this meeting a great tool to guide the discussion is a customised Senior Leadership Subculture Assessment filled out by the senior team and then the next level of leadership.  If the questions are designed properly and customised for your business and industry, it will reveal a highly accurate snapshot of the leadership culture.

Here are a couple of examples:  This shows a top performing senior team:

Top

This shows a senior team facing a turnaround situation:

turnaround

During this senior team workshop the CEO will quickly begin to understand the individual personalities, their strengths, attitudes, level of teamwork, and fit with the new business requirements. And watching a team work together for 3-4 days is a great way to get the full measure of the leadership subculture.

And once you know the leadership culture you have, you can then plot a course to build the leadership culture you need!

Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

e: john@johnrchildress.com
Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

On Amazon: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   
FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

John also writes thriller novels!

 

Posted in corporate culture, leadership, Organization Behavior, strategy execution | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment