On October 11th, we introduced the idea that Winning in a Down Economydoes not start with blindly cutting costs. Instead we outlined a strategy for 'tuning in' that market leaders have adopted. In the ten weeks that follow, we're covering the ten steps to getting your organization aligned quickly to a new market reality. This post is the tenth of ten. Steps 10 addresses how you can channel all of the learnings from Steps 1-9 into to winning gameplan for 2009.
Step 10: Align to Win!
"There is one quality that one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it." -- Napoleon Hill
Great leaders and companies will emerge from this downturn. They will likely be different than the current leaders because they'll do a better job at the critical tenth step of our process ... aligning to win. How do you create the right environment for this? Think of it as a life and death mission and you'll have the right perspective of what needs to happen. It's the Apollo 13 mission control team springing into action. It's a military team preparing to attack a dangerous and unknown enemy coming together to ensure 'flawless execution'. It's an ER room and the patient is a loved one.
It's all hands on deck time!
Thanks for hanging in there with us for all ten steps. If you've followed our recommendations, you've done the hard work of discovering a relevant pursuit for your business that is executable and valuable. Now turn your attention to making sure that it works not just in your head, but in the field as well. Your leadership mettle comes from being able to instill the belief, knowledge, understanding and tools for success to your team. Success depends on addressing all the issues of alignment including the tough ones that are actions that are difficult or unpopular. Check all the leadership boxes:
- People -- does everyone know their role and the importance of the mission?
- Strategy -- has it been clearly articulated and bought into by the team?
- Execution -- are the action steps clear and well supported?
- Financing -- is the path to success measurable and sustainable?
More than 50% of the teams we interviewed in our surveys of technology companies indicated that all of these were problem areas in their firms. The lack of clarity and poor communication made them hesitant to engage. There is no greater challenge for today's organizational leaders than to attack this issue head on and resolve it.
The best leaders we talked to had the problem readily identified. They were building 2 year roadmaps for that very reason ... to ensure alignment on all four fronts. They were also creating 90 day action plans to keep everyone centered on simple, incremental steps to the goal. At a higher level, we found three primary ways leaders aligned their teams:
- To a transformation agenda -- like IBM did for e-business and Starbucks is launching now.
- To an incremental impact agenda -- like RIM is doing with a new version of the Blackberry.
- To a buyer focus -- like Amazon is doing with book publishers & buyers around the Kindle.
Any strategy that is authentic internally and based on a meaningful connection to things your buyers value most will work. But, don't leave home with this! Your gameplan may be a winner. Make sure it's introduction instills the confidence in your team to follow it.