Monday, November 23, 2009

Achieving Consistent Execution: The Essence of Success

THEME: Fall 2009 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable Report

FOCUS: Achieving Consistent Execution: The Essence of Success

Monday morning: November 23, 2009

Dear friends,

Every day customers experience multiple moments of truth. The first happens when they choose a good or service from an organization. At this point, the process of making the decision and the actual purchase is based on perception, marketing, and/or past experience. The second happens when they actually utilize the good or service. Here, the customer has an expectation and the question is whether or not this expectation is fulfilled or unfulfilled through the process of using the good or service. Finally, the third moment of truth is when the customer reflects on whether or not the good or service lived up to its brand promise and/or their expectations. Depending on the good or service, how employees work with the customer also has a big impact on these moments of truth.

If we are seeking consistent execution on the employee side of the formula, then we, as leaders, need to do four things. First, we must create a micro-climate for consistent execution. Second, we need to engage employees within this environment. Third, we must enable the whole organization to support execution, i.e. create a macro-climate for consistent execution. Fourth, we need to implement and maintain the use of operational metrics and a productivity improvement system to make their execution better.

When we create a micro-climate for consistent execution, we need to remember that all organizations have a macro level of culture and a micro level of culture. We forget some times that the micro culture always trumps the macro culture just like status quo always trumps strategic change.

Furthermore, we need to remember the words of Robert E. Quinn who wrote: “Excellence is a form of deviance. If you perform beyond the norms, you disrupt all the existing control systems. Those systems will then alter and begin to work to routinize your efforts. That is, the systems will adjust to try to make you normal.”

Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky in their new book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World, Harvard Business Press, 2009, note that “status quo functions elegantly to solve a stream of problems and opportunities for which it has already evolved.” However, they continue, “overtime, the [micro] culture ... becomes deeply ingrained, self-reinforcing and very difficult to reshape.”

Characteristics of a healthy micro-climate include the ability to engage in crucial conversations, focus on the achievement of collective results, the recognition that the responsibility for the organization’s future is shared, and the institutionalization of reflection time and continuos learning.

To grow this kind of work environment, leaders need to hold more strategic dialogues and stop under-communicating who we are?, what we believe?, where we are going?, and how we are going to get there? Furthermore, in order to engage employees within this environment, we need to remember the advice and counsel of Marcus Buckingham in his book, The One Thing You Need to Know ... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success, Free Press, 2005, who wrote: “To excel as a manager you must never forget that each of your direct reports is unique and that your chief responsibility is not to eradicate this uniqueness, but rather to arrange roles, responsibilities, and expectations so that you can capitalize upon it. The more you perfect this skill, the more effectively you will turn talents into performance.” This translates into clarifying expectations and making sure people have the materials and equipment they need to do their work right. It also means employees receive recognition or praise for good work, and have a supervisor, or someone at work, who seems to care about them as a person, and encourages their development.

When we seek to engage the whole organization to support execution at both the micro and macro levels, we must realize that in the end, it all comes back to the micro-climate. This week, first focus on improving the health of the relationships between the managers and their direct reports, and second continue to building healthy teams.

Have wonderful week,


Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change

Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257

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