Strategic Leadership Means a Relentless Focus on What Matters Most
Recently, I was meeting with a client executive from a multi-location, privately held company. The organization has undergone many transitions in recent years including three ownership changes (from founder/owner to multiple investment groups) and as many CEO’s.
He shared with me the company’s newly formed strategy and he told me that key priorities have been identified and assigned to members of the leadership team. So far, so good. I asked how many priorities were in play? His answer gave me (and him) pause: 20!
I was reminded of a quote by Hall of Fame football coach and commentator John Madden, “If a team has two quarterbacks, it has no quarterback”.
In his bestselling book “Essentialism,” author Greg McKeown identifies countless examples of individuals and organizations losing their way as they become consumed with the concept of “more.” He writes that busyness can become a priority and, in some cases, rises to a form of addiction where individuals feel validated simply by doing more. In this environment, it is possible to lose sight of the overarching objective of accomplishing something meaningful and productive. Or as Friedrich Nietzsche said, “The most basic form of human stupidity is forgetting what we are trying to accomplish.”
An effective strategic planning process carries with it several critical elements. None is more impactful, more critical, or more difficult than evaluating opportunities and setting priorities. These priorities form the foundation for establishment of the planning dashboard, a critically important management tool where key drivers of a successful outcome are identified and closely monitored. Simple to understand, very difficult to do, and well worth the effort.
The CEO of a highly successful horticultural printer once told me his charge to his management team was to come up with five to seven key measures which drive success for his organization. Oh, and one very important stipulation. His “dashboard” should fit on a three by five-inch index card (which was updated each week and fit nicely inside his shirt pocket).
Running a successful enterprise presents no shortage of challenges and complexity. The need to simplify and focus has never been greater.
To help planning teams get there, we’ve developed a unique process designed to get to those critical few objectives that will move the organization forward and tools to create dashboards which monitor the performance and activities that drive desired outcomes.
For more information on ways in which your organization can benefit from this robust planning process, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.