How Decisive Leaders Execute Strategy Despite Obstacles, Setbacks, and Stalls

It is important that leaders provide an actionable framework for establishing long-term organizational change. So how do decisive leaders execute a strategy despite obstacles one technique that I found to be very helpful is the MOVE model, which helps businesses overcome chronic issues ranging from employee skepticism and task prioritization to making restructuring and intricate part of company culture.

For the sake of argument, let's say that you decided to take up jogging. You decide to start jogging in the morning. When you first start you're enthusiastic and driven by the vision of a fitter healthier existence, so you spring out of bed, put on your running shoes, and clock up a few miles. As you continue on this journey to become fitter through jogging you miss a day. Then one day becomes two and, two become a week and soon you know it you stop jogging.

Even if you've never jogged a mile in your life one thing is almost certain: you've experienced the middle phase, that tedious and work-intensive part that precedes long-term results and follows the initial excitement of getting started. Many people get bogged down in this phase, which is why dealing with it is the first concern of the MOVE model, which stands for Middle, Organization, Valor, and Everyone.

So, to get through the middle, you've got to stop being vague and establish small, clear, and achievable targets. Here's an example to demonstrate how this works: Say, there is an author that was working as a consultant for a home electronics business whose goal was as large as it was amorphous; it wanted to improve sales in Europe.

The author broke down this big, broad goal by asking two questions. "What would happen if we achieved this? " and the executives responded that they would enjoy greater sales in one of Europe's most important countries, Germany. "and what," the author pressed on, "would that look like? "

Well, the executives discussed the matter and soon some definite steps began to emerge. They would need to hire personnel in Germany, for instance, and create partnerships with top German retailers, as well as large advertising campaigns in the country.

In addition to making vague aims more concrete by asking these two questions, one can also keep matters urgent by defining small interim missions. Let's say you have a large mission to make bigger deals, and more of them, and that you resolved to close 10 such deals by year’s end. Well, since people tend to put off non-urgent tasks, you'll have to figure out a way to add urgency to this undertaking.

The trick here is to set small or shorter deadlines. For instance, aim to have 30 potential deals lined up in nine months, and recognize that for this to happen you need to identify 50 target accounts within half a year. These short-term goals will keep things urgent and propel you past the long-term finish line.

During the middle phase, allocate resources wisely and measure outcomes

There is an old saying in business “what gets measured gets done.” and though this adage may contain a kernel of truth, it leaves a crucial question unanswered: by which metrics should success be measured?

When measuring outcomes, you need to choose metrics that are both relevant and are able to accurately forecast higher-level results. Here's an example: let's say your company, like many others, strives to provide top-notch customer service. well, what you don't want to do is measure things such as the speed of customer- complaint resolution. This is because this might seem like a good metric but it's not.

After all, it doesn't really matter how quickly an issue is resolved; what matters is customer satisfaction and high-speed problem solving doesn't guarantee that. so, rather than focusing on isolated activities or particular stages within a process, measure only the desired outcome.

An effective metric for customer satisfaction is the number of returning customers. Another is customer referrals, since recommending a company to a friend is usually a sign of satisfaction.

Now, knowing what to measure is one thing. Actually measuring it is quite another. You may have to get creative. You could, for instance, have service representatives conclude their interactions with customers by asking whether the customer would recommend your product. Once you figure out how to measure the important stuff, be sure to put resources toward improving those measurements.

This is usually a challenge. It's easy to miscalculate the number of resources such improvement would require. Resources are usually in short supply. So, to make these calculations less challenging and more accurate try using the following techniques:

Try to sketch out two scenarios, each with a corresponding funding plan. Here's how it might work. Let's say the company is having a hard time acquiring customers. For this company, the first scenario would be a low-cost one. they would neither fire nor hire anyone, and the budget would increase only by 10%. This scenario will allow them to tackle only two pressing problems in the next half year.

In the second scenario, we would only calculate for 1 high cost. They would increase their budget by 100% and hire two new employees, changes that would make them a tip-top customer magnet within their market. Armed with this information, the company can pinpoint its priorities and move resources from one department to another if necessary.

The project manager in charge of this would look at both scenarios and measure both the pros and cons.

Teams should be designed to deliver outcomes

Imagine the scenario that you are on a dog sledding trip and you observe the dogs on the sled. The sound of the sled dogs panting, each breath a small cloud of steam. The cold air taut with anticipation. Briefly, the towline tenses as the team of dogs brace itself for the command to go and that command being: “mush!”

Each sled dog understood its job, and each was aligned with all the other dogs, eager to begin working toward the team mission. So when the time came to mush; that is to go, they weren't only ready they were champing at the moment.

So what imbued each canine with the purpose and energy, and how can you imbue your team members with the same qualities? well, it's a matter of organization which is what the O in the MOVE model stands for.

First, you've got to figure out whether you have all the right pieces and if any new pieces need to be added. You can do this by using a blank sheet organization chart, an organization chart allows you to see who in your organization does what and their purpose in the project. This can be extremely helpful when restructuring a majorly disorganized company.

Here's how it works: take a blank sheet of paper and after you determine the desired outcome of which skill sets will be required to bring about the outcome, start drawing up an ideal team. Don't leave any role undefined and get detailed about what will be required of each row. Be It negotiation know-how or the ability to drive innovation. Finally, talk to team members you trust and flesh out the roles and requirements using their feedback.

Using the blank sheet organization chart transforms any company into a cohesive whole. Once you figure out where current team members will be most useful and how many new members will have to be found to take on vacant roles, you'll be well on your way to overcoming challenges.

Leaders engage team members by revealing the bigger picture and showing that they care

Suppose someone offered you $260 to run a marathon, you might do it, right? But at $10 per mile, it seems hardly enough. If running that marathon contributed to a good cause, like finding a cure to cancer; however well you might, like thousands of people every year, even pay to run it. So, why would people not see $10 a mile not worth it but fighting cancer worth every step?

The reason for this is quite simple. When it comes to motivation, meaning trumps money. So, to motivate and engage your team, you’ve got to make its purpose meaningful. That means forging personal bonds with team members and showing them the bigger picture.

Whether during breakfast meetings or one-on-one sit-downs, talking to the people in your organization is important. As a leader, invest time both in learning how they feel about the work they do and in communicating how that work helps the company’s overall success.

Engaged employees won't only take ownership of projects and solve problems on their own; they’ll also contribute ideas and insights that may help the company. For example, employees may be able to point out that one department’s progress is misaligned with another’s. This is something that could seriously derail your company’s long-term transformation strategy. So when employees volunteer information, give them your full attention.

Of course, employees won't get behind the company mission unless you, their leader, are fully dedicated. This has a reciprocity effect that often inspires team members to show how much they care. Emotion drives meaning, so even if you’re a leader at a company that produces lint removers, you’ve got to find something you can care about.

If the business is as uninspiring as the product, then seek meaning in the people you serve or the people who work for you.

Why leading with grit and persistence is essential

So your team is organized, and you’ve planned out the M for the Middle phase, but when your team actually enters that phase and experiences all the attendant doubt and tedium, a new set of challenges will arise. Exhausted and discouraged, employees will start asking hard questions. Questions like: is this even working? Can we go back to what we know? When will we see results? This is where the V in the MOVE model comes in. V is for Valor.

The ability to be valorous means to be able to draw on your inner and outer resources. Remember, your team won't be the ones plagued by doubts and fears: you’ll have misgivings also. However, there is a major difference. Rather than being paralyzed with fear and wanting to turn back, you as the leader will accept these uncomfortable feelings and push forward.

My advice is to welcome fear like an old friend. “Hello fear” you can say, “it's fine if you want to join me on this journey, but you’ll have to take a back seat and you certainly won't be allowed to drive.” it's important that during this time you seek out desirable companions. People that are experts or mentors who can advise you on your strategy. Think of these people as your guide.

Having valor also means being firm. That means that once the change initiative begins, there is no going back. Your change strategy may involve adding new processes. For instance, you might add checkpoints or guidelines. It may prove to be a challenge at first for your workers to follow these new guidelines, but you’ll have to hold your ground.

You will only see the benefits of a change initiative if you stay firm and implement all the necessary changes.

Prioritize, but don't get bogged down by the details

A common pitfall in making organizational change and growth is when a company gets bogged down in the details. Sometimes an executive may spend too much time dealing with the “next” pressing issue that they lose sight of the big picture.

It’s a classic dilemma. If you’re spending all your energy on becoming a one-hundred-million dollar company, how will you ever develop a strategy that will take your company to the next level, possibly a billion-dollar company?

Well, if you want to change and grow, you’ve got to use ruthless prioritization. No more overthinking tiny, unimportant details. You must tackle the tough decisions that will actually make a major difference. What is meant by ruthless prioritization?

Well, this type of prioritization will inevitably involve trade-offs. So, in order to identify what should go, make a list of the three things that are critical to your company’s success. These are necessary and non-negotiable.

Here is an example, let's say you're a business-to-business company with low conversion rates. At the top of your list might be stepping up your referral marketing by implementing a new, more effective process. After you’ve made your list, you could then ask your team for feedback. Chances or other priorities would come up at the meeting--but under no circumstances should they jeopardize the top three priorities.

Of course companies are not feasible. If the referral marketing process doesn’t improve the conversion rates, it’s time to acknowledge that a mistake was made and cut your losses. What you don’t want to do in this scenario is double down. It's important to learn from your mistakes and keep on going.

Remember what's important here: don't get bogged down in the details. When a leader of the business has to review all the details, progress ceases. By no means should you spend hours doing analytical work that results in stagnation of a process. If you must analyze large amounts of data, delegate it to responsible team members that show promise. There is an old saying, “Insight moves up, details stay down.”

Establish long-term change by making it familiar, safe and normal

No matter how valorous, a leader won't succeed in bringing a team through the middle phase without the active involvement of the people in the organization, this is where the E in the MOVE model comes in.

Getting everyone involved in the change initiative is a matter of substituting conversation for command. Here is what I mean. Rather than telling employees what the change strategy is, talk to them about how it will work. This, hopefully, will encourage them to discuss it among themselves.

When team members talk strategy of their own accord, it's a sign that real change is taking place. Indeed, it means that a company strategy has become familiar, safe and normal. Another way to get employee buy-in is to create spaces where strategy conversation can take place.

Here is a tip: when change begins to happen, be sure to highlight it. This encourages and drives further change. Successful highlighting involves two things: everyone has to be able to see it, and everyone has to be able to talk about it.

The MOVE model is more than a mere process for implementing change initiatives in any company. Rather, it's the surest way to achieve lasting change. It does this in four ways:

  1. It helps employees through the Middle phase of change with clear and concise strategy

  2. It establishes an Organization structure with the capacity to change

  3. It builds Valor to help make the tough decisions and prioritize change

  4. It shows leaders how to engage Everyone making change a part of the culture


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