Please sing this column to the tune of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” if you can,.. and if you dare!
On the 12th day of Christmas, my consultant shared with me… 12 Scrooge-like waaaaays…. to mess up my stra-a-te-gy!
Day #1: Scrooge: Expect that you and your team can do a one-time planning session and not need to follow up until next year. Santa: Similar to working out, a consistent, period focus on your strategic game plan is paramount for maintaining strategic momentum. This includes monthly strategy sessions dedicated to your strategic game plan rather than just tactical updates or firefighting.
Day #2: Scrooge: Save money by short-cutting your planning process, budget and time investment. Santa: Strategic thinking and planning is more important now than ever. A carefully thought-out collaborative plan saves thousands if not millions of dollars in wasted efforts, confusion and diluted focus. Consider this an investment that will pay big dividends throughout the coming months.
Day #3: Scrooge: Get right to solution mode and forget trying to understand the problem. It just feels so good to get into action…any action. Santa: Focus on figuring out the root of the issue before going into fixing. Complex, multifaceted problems take time to understand because there are usually strong emotions and opinions wrapped tightly around them making it difficult to understand what is the central issue.
Day #4: Scrooge: Use precious meeting time for report-outs (also called “death by meeting”) so that people will feel satisfied in hearing their own voice on something that others can read. Santa: Use meeting time for collaborative problem solving. Ensure that information-sharing happens in advance to level-set everyone’s understanding, designing the meeting so the group is working on only the work they can do together and build on the info sharing including asking questions, for instance about the report outs.
Day #5: Scrooge: Have each person take their own notes and set action items themselves, don’t bother with having anyone manage the “how’s of the project overall, that is too expensive. Santa: Ensure you have someone serve as keeper of the game plan to update and monitor progress, capture and communicate successes,
Day #6: Scrooge: During the meeting, ensure all Blackberries are on and laptops are open so that everyone can focus on their own emails and work while pretending to listen. Santa: Spend time at the beginning of projects developing the team’s rules of engagement and add a “no cell phones” / no laptop rule if no one else offers this suggestion.
Day #7: Scrooge: Focus on data analysis only. Feelings? What feelings? Bah-humbug! Santa: Acknowledge and explore individual feelings in order to surface critical priorities and get to the most important work. Our feelings and instincts are integral components toward developing superior game plans. Pride, in particular, is a powerful emotional driver.
Day #8: Scrooge: When solving big hairy issues, talk about the data only – it’s easier that way so you don’t have to deal with all those messy emotions. Santa: Issues are issues usually because a mix of results, processes and relationships that are not working. To expect that we can compartmentalize them or not deal with the emotion at some point is short sighted. Build up your courage and simply ask, “How are you feeling about this?”.The world won’t fall apart – promise.
Day #9: Scrooge: Stay rigidly married to your agenda and ignore all signs that you need to bend to a different way of approaching an issue. Santa: Even the best-laid plans can require flexibility in the face of new data. Keep an ear out for these “strategic moments” and decide together as a team if the plans should shift.
Day #10: Scrooge: Assume everyone is quite pleased your project process, results and relationships. and forget the quarterly review and plan meetings Santa: Schedule regular time together to take stock in progress and challenges as well as being open to how to do things better. This time is perfect for recalibrating your next 90 day plan.
Day #11: Scrooge: Believe that change will “just happen.” Santa: Even with the best of intentions change is hard. Be sure to collectively agree on how to best follow up on your work over time, and talk about how to hold one another accountable.
Day #12: Scrooge: Keep silent on the progress. Santa: Stakeholders and team members will be curious with how the work is progressing, and in the absence of communication people make up their own stories – usually for the worse. Agree on key communication points to share with the rest of the company and to create a communication plan.
Holiday Summary: Scrooge: Keep working through the holidays. Santa: Take a break and enjoy the holidays… Give yourself the gift of getting re-charged for the New Year!
Laura Stone is Founder/CEO at Stone+Company, a strategy and leadership consulting firm. Website: www.stoneandcompany.com