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Executive Alignment

What are some ideas to enable an executive team to focus on a specific strategy for 2020 instead of wanting to focus and do everything?


  • @Lee Pichette is masterful at narrowing scope and trimming the proverbial fat. Would love to hear your thoughts Lee!

  • I might ask them to start prioritizing and assigning resources/timelines at a high level. Ask them to work backwards, beginning with the end in mind. The details don't need to be flushed out, but the goal of the exercise would be to get them to see all the work that would need to be going on at once. Thinking of it in a similar lens as Experience planning, there is a finite amount of time and energy to go around. Focus on a few things to do well and ingrain them in every day life, and from there add new pieces of strategy when the first pieces become comfortable.

  • It’s always a good idea to start your session by establishing some ground rules and gaining agreement on your objective. Since most executives are familiar with Jim Collins, his quote from "Good To Great" couldn’t be more appropriate for this type of planning session. “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”

  • I agree with @AJ Cheponis quote from Jim Collins "If you have more than 3 priorities, you don't have any." You might also have the executive team read 'Traction' by Gino Wickman (or the short version "What the Heck is EOS?") it clearly outlines how to set priorities and why only to focus down. There is also Patrick Lencioni's book 'The Advantage' which also talks about the same focus. All 3 are great books that I use when I'm coaching/facilitating executive off-sites.

  • During the strategic planning cycle, it is important to outline a "stop" list, in addition to a "go" list. It's estimated that 37% of work effort is wasted. If you stop doing some things, you free up resources for other actions that are critical to the success of the organization. For example, the company might stop selling to certain customer types or stop producing lower margin products. From the standpoint of talent optimization, it is also important that everyone in the organization - from the top to the bottom - understand the strategic initiatives. Each person should know the top 3-5 things that they do everyday that supports the company's vision. In addition to fostering employee engagement, it keeps everyone on the boat rowing in the same direction!

  • We operate utilizing the EOS Worldwide management system.

    This has helped tremendously. It's surprising that the tools and methods utilized in EOS are things you do everyday. However, the structure the system provides is what we were lacking.

    It's VERY difficult to stay focused in today's business climate.

    Terri Marcus, President

    Marcus Paint Company

  • Develop the strategy or annual update with all executives providing input, but with one owner facilitator. Start with a SWOT analysis. I segment mine by the key areas of the business, e.g., Product, people, process. Divide the work to create a gap analysis next of ALL the key weaknesses and corresponding opportunities. Then we use a proprietary exercise that helps the senior team negotiate value, including financial. The CEO or CFO will typically have a method for their company. Finally, define current state on 3 - 4 top value priorities, future state, key actions, which senior leader owns it and time horizon for key actions. The more under managed the business, the quicker the action will need to be taken. For an under $100 Man company, the total strategy summary should be between 7 - 13 including a crisp one pager that I refer to the bank and board summary page.

  • The executive team’s ability to communicate affects everything in the business, including revenue and profitability. Whatever works at the core radiates throughout the entire organization—and whatever doesn't becomes magnified through layers of misaligned decisions.

    I usually focus first on aligning the decision-making processes of the team, then creating/refining the new vision for the org moving into 2020. After there's a shared vision, identification of strategic objectives becomes easy. It's either in alignment with the vision or it's not. Usually the CEO has an idea in her/his head and needs to galvanize executives to be partners in the fulfillment of that vision.

    Too often executive teams skirt the visioning process and want to get right to implementation. They actually avoid interacting and communicating by diving into a (no longer relevant) workload. But they actually save time when they take the time to get aligned high-level, and then agree to trust each other to make decisions in alignment with the vision they aligned on.

    When I worked with Causeit, Inc., we took numerous executive teams through a proprietary executive team alignment process developed by Miles Kierson (see his book "The Transformational Power of Executive Team Alignment"). When the execs see each other as partners rather than competitors, the org can focus on the real competition and knock their goals out of the park.

    After all, we just want to get work done, right? No, we want to get the right work done right.

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