Think Differently. Be Clear.

For teams to execute strategy brilliantly, a leader must be clear. Clear about the vision (the direction). Clear about the strategy (the way to move closer toward the vision) in a way that each person can understand the role they play to brilliantly execute that strategy. Clear about the purpose (why the company exists) and how the strategy aligns with this purpose.

One leader who inspired others, and connected to them with his communication in an actionable way, was Steve Jobs former CEO of Apple.

Steve Jobs Think different 1997

What stands out in this video, and what Jobs is well known for, is how clearly he communicates and how he emphasizes the importance of clear communication. This is what Clarity, which I simply define as Getting Clear & Being Clear, is about. Jobs is “Being clear” in his communication with his internal team, he is helping them “Get clear” about the vision, purpose and strategy (in this case for marketing), and he is also modeling how they might “Be clear” in their communication to the market.

Do you think that Getting Clear & Being Clear will support better decision-making? That is, decisions that are nimble (keep the company moving forward) and offer the clear direction that helps ensure brilliant execution of that decision? Exactly, yes!

Creating a “great” strategy is similar to making a “great” decision. Can you think of any decision that over time you look back on and say, “That was a great decision!” without actions being taken after the decision that made it “great?” A strategy may be great, but if not executed well – if the results are not as desired – then you are back to the start (or worse).

Results matter. As a leader you must communicate in a way that focuses the heads and hearts of people on their best next steps they can take to execute strategy and move, together, toward a shared vision.

Sometimes it is you and your leadership team who lack Clarity. You can’t always be clear, but you can adjust how you communicate with those who need to execute. And you can empower them to help everyone including you become more clear over time.

Apple lost Clarity between 1985 and 1996 and was no longer executing in alignment with the company’s “To keep things simple” brand promise. Complexity crept in. Products proliferated. Quality slipped.

When Jobs returned in December 1996 Apple was in a death spiral. Sales and market share were falling precipitously. Expenses were ballooning out of control. Departments battled one another. Some of the former CEO’s top managers were in denial; many of the most talented were leaving. The outcomes of the lack of Clarity were showing up as early as 1991 with a decline in profitability.

Upon Jobs’ return to Apple, he immediately focused himself and prepared to orchestrate a Pivot: from a proliferation of products that revealed the impact of a lack of focus on design or quality, to a focus on fewer products built with great design and quality in mind. His message to the team, “You are bright people. You shouldn’t be wasting your time on crappy products.” Perhaps you would choose different words. My point is that the company – and any successful company – places a high priority on Clarity. Getting clear and being clear.

Agile, Lean, and The Pivot

Nimble, Agile, Lean, The Pivot, Aligned Momemtum
Nimble: Agile Lean Pivot

As a leader, you are positioned to orchestrate change. You may have teams already working together in a nimble way, and a way in which change comes naturally. Bridge these styles (and often unique languages) together, and you will find that leading – and orchestrating change – throughout the organization comes more naturally.

  • Familiar with Lean? You will recognize the phrase “working together.”
  • Or with Agile? You will recognize “collaboration.”
  • Top leadership? You will recognize those phrases and “strategic alignment.”

    (When there is alignment and engagement and empowerment, you’ve reached a state of Aligned Momentum)

  • It is only in the state of Aligned Momentum that performance breakthroughs are possible.

    It’s up to you, the leader, to ensure that all players come together to make one enchanting sound. Make communication and clarity a top priority.

    A meeting type that promotes active listening (Open Space)

    Open Space and Creating a Safe Place in the Workplace
    Meeting method – Open Space. Who shows up is the right “who.”

    Catalyzing momentum is a transformational process; it is not a one-time motivational or informational presentation. The ongoing process of well-orchestrated change, and Pivoting in a way that can be transformational, is still new to many organizations. Often, change is hindered because people do not feel safe to speak out or initiate change.

    I’m always looking for next steps and methods that help to “open-the-door” to closer alignment and greater momentum for my business clients and readers. Here’s one…

    One method is called Open Space. It is well-described here by Achim Nowak, bestselling author and founder of Influens and Brilliant Best.
    Continue reading “A meeting type that promotes active listening (Open Space)”

    Leaders, here are 3 ways to grow, and inspire others to keep growing

    Aligned Momentum - Mastery Mindsets
    Mastery Mindsets are critical to business vibrancy

    When I wrote the book The Pivot: Orchestrating Extraordinary Business Momentum, I was somewhat surprised when after boiling down all the possible indicators of what makes a leader successful in leading a vibrant business, and achieving Aligned Momentum, there were just six (listed at the end of this article).

    Mastery Mindsets is the second key indicator in the first group of three, which indicate a readiness for brilliant execution of strategy. Your business cannot be vibrant, and you and all those in your organization cannot be nimble, without the openness, curiosity, courage, integrity and grit to continue to grow. Continued growth is the path of mastery.

    You may be wondering how “vibrant business” is defined. I define it as:

    A vibrant business commands the highest valuation, stays ahead of the competition, and is a great place to work.
    Continue reading “Leaders, here are 3 ways to grow, and inspire others to keep growing”

    Want a Vibrant Business? Gain Clarity (Get Clear & Be Clear)

    Get clear and be clear. As a leader if you do anything very well, be a master of communication so that everyone is clear and aligned toward strategic objectives.

    Want people to be both aligned and engaged? Be clear in a way that connects what they desire for themselves to what the business needs from them in their role.

    Continue reading “Want a Vibrant Business? Gain Clarity (Get Clear & Be Clear)”

    Are You Ready for Performance Breakthroughs? Track these 6 Key Indicators

    Aligned Momentum Key Indicators
    Measure Readiness for Extraordinary Momentum and Performance Breakthroughs

    Executing a plan requires alignment. Executing on time requires momentum. Executing brilliantly, including shifting quickly when the facts change while staying on track with strategic objectives, requires Aligned Momentum.

    Aligned Momentum Key Indicators help you track progress in your Pivot from an incremental, traditional and/or rigid business culture to a culture with Aligned Momentum. Aligned Momentum leads to brilliant execution of strategy.

    Aligned Momentum Key Indicators

    To support brilliant execution of strategy

    • 1) Clarity: Getting clear, being clear.
    • 2) Mastery Mindset: Open, growing mind.
    • 3) Nimble Decision-making: Best next step.

    To prepare you for a better future

    • 4) Strategic Thinking: Play the movie.
    • 5) Talent Adaptability: Roles fit strategy.
    • 6) Coaching: Manager as coach.

    Continue reading “Are You Ready for Performance Breakthroughs? Track these 6 Key Indicators”

    Want to reach your desired destination? Be focused & nimble

    To keep momentum and reach your desired destination… be focused & nimble.

    Focus is important.  “You get what you focus on,” which in a business is typically what you measure. Keeping track of progress and outcomes helps with focus.

    But you also must stay nimble – open, aware, and adaptable – to move around obstacles or to adjust a course. Sometimes what is being measured is not leading toward longer term strategic objectives. And sometimes strategy needs to change.

    Take Your Best Next Steps

    Best Next Steps
    Best Next Steps for Extraordinary Momentum

    This first post in the Extraordinary Momentum Series offers 5 key ideas to help you get clear about best next steps, and how you can help others get clear about their best next steps.

    When you are nimble, you are aware and open. You rarely get blocked or stuck. If you do – if someone, something, or even your own mindset or limiting beliefs – get in your way, you have what it takes to move around, over, under, through.

    Empower others to initiate change. Leaders orchestrate.

    Employee Engagement-41pct Disengaged

    Those of you who know me or are getting to know me… understand that I am all about business vibrancy. In my terms, that translates to a nimble organization, continuously building its business value, and a great place to work. An organization with these traits has what I call “Aligned Momentum,” which I show in the visual above this post and write about in my book (you can find an excerpt here).

    For over 20 years the average results from employee engagement surveys have shown a rate of disengagement at over 30%. Aon’s recent 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement reports that 41% of employees are disengaged and feel undervalued.

    What this reflects, at least in part, is a lack of empowering employees to initiate change – a critical step in a Pivot toward Aligned Momentum.

    Continue reading “Empower others to initiate change. Leaders orchestrate.”