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Typical Mistakes

4.02 The Biggest Mistakes in the Strategy Process — Mistake 2

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The Biggest Mistakes in the Strategy Process — Mistake No.2 – Leading Is Not Transparent | 4.02

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This is the second blog of three to address the biggest mistakes that can happen during a strategy process.  Here I address another cardinal mistake in a strategy process, which happens when leading is not transparent in the management system.

Text in image: Mistake 2. Leading is not transparent

Giving out responsibilities

Drawing of a person with four arrows going towards four other people. The image represents handing out responsibilities.

Organizations are pretty good in giving out responsibilities and tasks. That’s everyday life. 

Drawing of a person asking four other people “How are you doing?”. The four people are divided into silos.

Then, however, comes the question of which order the implementation projects should happen. The leader asks this question during a meeting, and these poor people must prepare PowerPoint slides hour after hour, until they are fine enough for presentation. In a world like this, information doesn’t travel that quickly. Luckily, nowadays technology enables automatic reporting. 

LOOK AT THE IMAGE BELOW. DON’T DO IT LIKE THAT!

Drawing of a person asking four other people “How are you doing?”. The four people are divided into silos. An indigo X covers the drawing.

INSTEAD… DO IT LIKE THIS! MAKE LEADING TRANSPARENT!

Drawing of two groups of people looking at each other through a transparent screen.

Let’s operate and lead transparently. If someone wants to have a peek at what other teams are up to, they are able to do so! When the big picture is clear, one can focus on the smaller things. If a person needs information on how their neighbor is proceeding with their work, they are able to follow up on the other person’s situation on their own. 

Strategy board

Drawing of five people looking at a strategy dashboard. The board blue columns with cards. Each card has a colored dot, either red, yellow or green.

Practically, this means that every team has its own digital board. The management team has a digital board consisting of the whole strategy. It can be viewed by the management team and other teams. Central focus areas and their goals can be followed with ease on a common digital board. Stop using Excel and move onto lead the common working platform through a digital board. That’s how leading becomes transparent! 

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Leadership

2.09 Goals quarterly

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Quarterly Goals — 2.09

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Today’s topic is about setting quarterly strategic goals. How does it work? This is so very important. We all believe in the power of goals. In big corporations this is very complicated. In smaller businesses the strategic goals go intuitively with the flow: When one goal is completed, it is replaced with the next goal. However, when a company grows to a point where it employs 20-30 people, there comes a need to organize: Who is in charge of what and what is the common direction everyone is heading towards?

Drawing of an organizational chart with three levels. The number of boxes per level is 1, 3 and 7.

Behold, the “thingamajig” which we both love and hate. It’s the hierarchical organization, but a hierarchical organization has many perks. There’s no need to get rid of it. My favorite thing is to add agile teams on top of it, where the groups work as if doing tiny projects, with the hierarchical organization remaining in the background. 

Drawing of a hybrid organization that has an organizational hierarchy in the background and smaller dynamic teams in front of the hierarchy.

I call this a hybrid organization. Teams create goals easily, and they are almost “disposable goals”. Once the goals have been reached, the team is done with work.  

The question is: What is the world’s greatest way to create goals for a background hierarchy? Why is it that many companies are almost obliged to build this kind of hierarchy? 

Goals. How?

Drawing of an organizational chart with three levels. The number of boxes per level is 1, 3 and 7.

Nowadays, it is discussed if self-management could replace a hierarchy. I was invited to comment on a result about self-management composed by a group of scientists. There are many ways to become organized, but this hybrid combination is powerful. A successful pioneer leader once called a completely self-managing organization a “freak ball”. In the Finnish Defense Forces, it’s a term for when everything goes in different directions. He was of the opinion that self-management totally sucked. It’s very difficult if we’re lacking a common ground to build upon.  

Agility is needed, as well as hierarchy, the hybrid. How could we create more efficient goals for the hierarchy? Legislation demands a company to have an accounting period. That’s why goals are set for the next accounting period so that the risk-takers, meaning the owners, know what the company is aiming at and they know what kind of revenue to expect for their investment. 

A pressure to create big goals and make big choices and to pursue them exists. How could one do this better than ever before? Let me introduce a system, where the point is to create goals quarterly. 

Drawing of an organizational chart with three levels. A dart board has been placed on top, representing quarterly goals.

Let’s begin naturally by having one big goal. Investors always say that they work backwards. First, it’s necessary to think about what needs to be done, then it’s time to go back to look at what kind of goals are needed. The big dartboard symbolizes the big goal. Now let’s start going backwards. 

Yearly clock?

Figure of a circle with four sectors, each sector representing a quarter and text: “Yearly clock”. The figure represents strategy update schedule.

Do we do top-down or bottom-up? Both are possible. Is the magic after all in doing both simultaneously like in the hamburger model? I believe that once the big picture has been painted, the departments are asked what they think should be done during the next season. The answers are combined and checked if they are a good enough combination. If not, a new suggestion is requested.  

When people are given the right and the possibility to give their opinion on what a good goal is, it motivates them very much. My good friend Bo Harald said that he would have never had the guts to set as tough goals as his team did.    

Quarterly goals

Figure of a circle with four sectors, each sector representing a quarter beside two drawn people. The figure represents quarterly goals.

This is the yearly clock. In practice, many organizations feel forced to follow the yearly clock: The strategy is created during spring and the operating plan and the budgeting is done in the autumn. After that, goals are set for the next year. 

I have begun to challenge this idea. Is this the most reasonable way? Is it enough that once a year we think about our strategy and create strategic goals? My answer is that its time is over. We need a better and more robust way of working than a mechanic yearly clock like this. 

I know an organization where its CEO says that they create a strategy always when they feel up for it. That’s a nice idea. 

Because it’s so hard to get rid of the yearly clock, what if we did this instead? 

Quarterly strategy checkups

Drawing of a meeting around a large screen, two red arrows, and text: “Q1, Q2”. This drawing represents a quarterly strategy checkup.

Let’s break down the yearly strategy into a quarterly strategy. Let’s make significantly shorter and faster sprints. Every now and then, maybe every third year, it’s worth doing a larger job and analyzing everything more in-depth. Once this is done, quarterly strategy updates can be done and goals for the next quarter can be chosen. This in my opinion is amazing, because it leads to an agile way of operating. Nothing is set in stone! The direction of the company is observed constantly.  

Next goals

Drawing that represents different business units in a hierarchy, that get assigned individual goals.

In practice, it works so that all the quarterly meetings with the management group are scheduled and marked in everyone’s calendars. Then the department leaders prepare for the meeting by asking what should be done next. They bring suggestions for the next quarter’s goals. At the same time, last year’s goals are checked to see if they were achieved or not. What did we learn? How do we succeed even better next time?  

Quarterly checkups are one-day or two half-day online meetings, in which the strategy is gone through. The living digital board has the whole strategy displayed, including the previous and the new upcoming goals. Everyone is able to write on the board simultaneously. This leads to people checking up on the strategy frequently, and, if the strategy needs changing, it’s noticed faster. 

Agile goals

many bulls-eye goals

Then, in practice, the department leader makes a suggestion for the next goals. They are discussed with the CEO and their colleagues, whether or not they’re relevant. At the same time, the entirety is checked to see if the big goals are still relevant and reasonable, or if they need a fix-up. Fix-ups are done often, and what’s better than that! 

Following up on the strategy

Once the meeting is at an end, the management group has commented on the most important goals – those that truly steer the boat. Operative goals won’t necessarily be quarterly goals, because they can be updated and fixed inside the departments. The focus is on the bigger strategic goals, the levers that move big stones out of our way.  

After the meeting, the management group meets with its team to discuss how the big goals are broken down into smaller issues. They have discussed this already previously, now they are merely doing check-ups to clarify everyone’s on the same page. In the end, everyone needs to know their job and goals that need to be accomplished. 

This creates a hierarchy of goals, but I think it’s a good thing. Especially if it’s treated in a manner that they can live and change in the process. When a goal is reached, the next most important thing is brought up to be looked at. Strong prioritizing and challenging, sprint thoughts! 

Representation of the Strategy 1Pager as an icon. It contains a sector, and a blue arrow that is moving inside the sector towards a sun.

Strategy on one page

I strongly believe that the core strategy should be written down on one piece of paper, the Strategy 1Pager. The strategy is actually the cornerstones of the sectors, it determines the direction. Then, everyone can define how to sail forward every day. Strategy = HOW. 

Quarterly strategic goals live constantly within the direction the company is headed to. The direction is steered by the sun, our Purpose: What is the goodness we bring to our customers and to the universe? The numbers are the result of the purpose, not the other way around. First, you need the purpose. That is what produces the numbers. I believe this creates a better win-win-win situation. Everyone earns more money: the customer – company – individual. 

The question is how to steer ourselves optimally towards the sun. This is like a sailing boat, which constantly needs to be aware of the direction of the wind. That’s the job of an agile organization.  

Drawing of a circle divided into four quarters beside a group of five people. The five people are cheering.

Conclusion: Make people take a pit stop quarterly. In small businesses the goals are checked up weekly or monthly. If you’re working in a bigger company, operate at least one every quarter. 

Strategy board

Drawing of five people looking at a strategy dashboard. The board blue columns with cards. Each card has a colored dot, either red, yellow or green.

Use the strategy board! The strategy board is where you list all the focus areas and their biggest breakthrough goals. This is very important. These Trello cards are updated monthly in every management group meeting. Do check-ups of how the job proceeds. In its weekly operation, the management group follows up on the implementation of the sub-goals. Are things proceeding, or aren’t they? 

Figure of a circle with four sectors, each sector representing a quarter beside two drawn people. The figure represents quarterly goals.

This quarterly goal idea is absolutely solid! I truly recommend it if you happen to have a bigger-than-average organization. Even if you had a group of ten people, the strategic goals are good to be listed on a digital strategy board. It’s solid! That’s how you won’t even notice the strategy has changed because it happens naturally. The gap between the strategy and operative tasks has closed. 

This is how you IGNITE YOUR STRATEGY! Read more.🔥 

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Leadership

2.08 Cultural Differences of Swe-Fin

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Cultural Differences Between Finland and Sweden — 2.08

Even if your business has no connections to Sweden or Finland, it’s very useful to understand the cultural differences between both countries if you wish to understand more about the Nordics. Swedish people excel in certain things, which might be worth imitating to a certain extent over where you are. Let’s look at the cultural differences between Finland and Sweden.

I used to live in Sweden when I worked at Nokia. At the time, I also got to know Anita Ekwall, who is as of this moment still active in the professional space. She can be considered a veteran of her field of expertise. She was the one who introduced me to the cultural differences between Sweden and Finland.

It’s surprising how often things go wrong just because people in Sweden and Finland don’t understand each other. Globally, we share a lot of similarities in the culture with the Swedes, yet it is very surprising how many cultural differences we have on top of the similarities despite being neighbors.

1. Planning

Figure that describes the cultural differences between Sweden and Finland in planning in the form of a simple comparison table.

When we’re talking about cultural differences between Finland and Sweden, one worth mentioning is planning. Swedish people love planning and, in particular, participating in the planning process. Swedes love to work in groups and to share responsibility together as a group. In Finland, we want action and spontaneity. 

In Sweden, the boss has co-workers, medarbetare. The Swedish co-workers are very friendly and fearless towards bosses. In Finland, everyone knows who’s boss. Finns love individual responsibility, while the Swedes love group responsibility. 

The way Swedish people discuss during meetings seems far removed from how we Finns do things. We Finns don’t want to invest the time that is needed for long discussions. Swedes want to discuss until everyone understands why something needs to be done. Finns, however, want action. And they want to do things quickly. A Swede will try to avoid conflicts until the very end when a Finn will take the bull by the horns as quickly as possible and get it over with. 

These cultural differences between Finland and Sweden are pretty big, surprisingly big for many of us. When we act together, Swedish people should understand our customs and Finns should understand theirs. Neither of us can change completely because of our personal background, culture, personal history, etc. We can however respect and understand one another, where we come from, and not get offended if things do not quite go the way we by nature expect things to go. If we can learn from each other, our business can take flight in situations where there are co-workers from both cultures within the same organization.

2. Decisions

Figure that describes the cultural differences between Sweden and Finland in decisions in the form of a simple comparison table.

In Sweden, a decision is made by reaching a consensus. In Finland, the boss gets to decide. The Swedish approach also can be criticized. The Boss might know immediately what they want, but they won’t go and tell everyone. The boss first collects their group and becomes insured that everyone understands why a decision must be made and why the direction is what it is. Then the boss listens to the others and gathers information, which might improve the decision. It goes without saying that not everyone in Sweden is of the same opinion, but they accept the decision when they know the background. And (surprise surprise) everyone gets down to business immediately when consensus has been reached and the go-ahead is given by the boss.  

Finns are impatient and can’t stand to discuss, we want a decision. Our problem is that if people have not been heard, they become irritated and implementation won’t happen, even if the decision was made quickly. In fact, I believe that the Swedish way is often faster. In Sweden, implementation happens immediately, when in Finland it’s inadequate. The Swedish leadership model would be a great supplement to the Finnish approach. 

To be precise, Finland has changed a lot in the past ten years. We have learned to listen, to share our backgrounds transparently, and to make decisions together. Many organizations ask the whole group to set their goals, instead of proceeding top-down. The result is much better this way. Many people would never have the guts to set goals as high as one can with a bottom-up approach. 

In Sweden, it is, however, important to follow the hierarchy. It’s surprising, considering that they are all such co-workers. A Swedish boss might get frustrated if someone surpasses them. In Finland it’s not so dangerous, so let them! The main thing is that everything works.  

Of course, Swedes want results and they will get them.  

According to Anita Ekwall, Finns are visionaries as individuals. Design runs deep in our culture. I don’t know if I completely agree, because I believe the same applies to the Swedes. Maybe there’s a difference in nuance. People understand things differently, even if they use the same words. 

3. Operation

Figure that describes the cultural differences between Sweden and Finland in operations in the form of a simple comparison table.

Many misunderstandings happen in our everyday lives as we work together. First of all, our relationship with time is different between us. From a Swedish perspective, time equals quality. This can, of course, be true. In Finland, however, efficiency is important, and that is why decisions are made quickly. 

If a change of plan happens in Sweden, it’s a big thing. In Finland, people are flexible. If a decision is wrong, it is changed. In our minds, this is efficient. It’s an agile culture.  

Swedes need time to anticipate what’s going to happen next. This is why Swedes reserve time in the calendar long in advance, in a way that may seem almost ridiculous from a Finnish perspective. Why can’t things take place faster? Cultural differences.  

During my time in Sweden, I learned that if you, on a Wednesday, invite your neighbor for a barbeque and beer on Friday, you might subtly be insulting the Swede. This is because you are, in fact, expecting your neighbor to be free on Friday as if they would have a lousy social life. Of course, the neighbor will come. But they will first let you know that they need to rearrange their calendar. It would be advisable to give them a two week’s notice. Then it’s not embarrassing to have an empty calendar. 

Framförhållning, meaning anticipation, is longer in Sweden. We’re flexible. We have a one-hour warmup, just enough time for the sauna to heat up! It’s funny that it always takes an hour for a Finnish crowd to warm up. We approach new situations by observing. In Sweden, situations are always approached through discussion. It’s funny to us Finns because Swedes are very friendly from the beginning. To a Finn, however, it might feel like they would have known the person for 10 years. It might dawn on the Finn that this indeed was not the case.  

Everything is very informal in Sweden. Differences in hierarchy are frowned upon, whereas we Finns prefer formality. The thing that bugs me is that company hierarchies are somewhat concealed in Sweden, even though they very much exist. 

Also, Swedish people don’t do well if a situation is unsafe. In Finland, operation continues even if there is a lack of safety. Finland did experience a World War, while the last time Sweden was actively involved in a war was at the beginning of the 19th century. These differences in experience have undoubtedly had an effect on both countries and the people in them. 

4. Being social

Figure that describes the cultural differences between Sweden and Finland in being social in the form of a simple comparison table.

But there are even more differences that matter. The last category of cultural differences between Finland and Sweden is about social encounters. For example, a Swede wants to be like the rest, a Finn doesn’t want to be a part of the mass. For example, if you ask a Swedish person about what typical Swedishness is, they will find it difficult to answer clearly. Again, if you ask a Finn the same type of question, it may not take that long for the Finn to shout out something along the lines of… Sauna, Sibelius and Sisu. This is a hallmark of a younger nation. Things are way more pronounced. Sweden, on the other hand, is a much older nation, it has even been a superpower back in the day. A great nation with a great history with many great achievements. Things just appear different from this type of perspective.   

Finns are generally very aware of their identity, and naturally, it also means that the club of Finnishness has gotten a spirit of exclusivity around in the minds of many people. It’s emphasized and promoted passively in different situations. There are naturally always exceptions to everything. These are not natural laws after all.  

When a person from a stronger Finnish background goes abroad, they may appear insecure, because the environment is new. While at home there is a ton of confidence, on the other hand. It seems to be the reverse among people with a stronger Swedish background. Things are much more low-key at home, while there is a lot of confidence while abroad. This confidence means it is very easy to start a conversation, which inevitably leads to very profitable export agreements. Finnish society could benefit from having a bit more Swedish flair in its international dealings.  

Involve everyone

Perhaps it’s time to make some conclusions, and pull all of this together into a summary, of sorts. Let’s involve everyone so that they all understand why something needs to be done. This is what we do at Stradigo. While working with clients we involve everyone in the strategy process with digital technology and by crystallizing the strategy together. As far as I’m aware, this technique has not been mastered by the competition in Sweden, so there is a window of opportunity of sorts, for the time being. 

Understanding

Drawing of two people. One person wears the colors of the Swedish flag and the other person wears the colors of the Finnish flag.

No one can change their background. So, let’s be safe and proud of who we are! That being said, we can, however, benchmark a bit and see if we can adapt good practices from elsewhere, Sweden in this case. Language barriers naturally play a significant role in this, while English cannot bridge this gap fully. To truly bridge the cultural and knowledge gap one would need to have insights into the native tongues, at least if one desires to make a deep dive and get the gold that lays on the bottom of the cultural swimming pool. 

These are the cultural differences between Finland and Sweden. Hope you found this blog informative!

Let’s increase our common understanding, speak languages, adapt and learn from each other, and let’s not be too stiff in our operations! Read more.🔥

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

1.15 Unit strategic key questions

Stradigo

Case: What are our business unit’s strategic key questions? — 1.15

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As I write this, I want to share an experience with you. With several companies, I have worked with the question: “What are our business unit’s strategic key questions?”

This question has given me so intense experiences that I simply had to record a video about it, and now this video has been turned into a blog text!

A company has a strategy, and it must be visible in the units. There are business leaders who belong to a school of thought that a company must not have sub-strategies but only one strategy. I belong to this same school of thought. Typically, it’s very common for a company several different strategies; a marketing strategy, a sales strategy, an IT strategy, a staff strategy, etc. The downside is that they can dilute the business-wide upper-level strategy.

Text: “Company strategy, unit’s alternative”. A blue arrow goes from company strategy to unit’s alternative.

It’s a more considerable risk that the other strategies will go all over the place. The workaround is to have one strategy, which is possible by converting the various sub-strategies into focus areas, which then get placed under the primary strategy.  

Let’s look at how these alternatives are created. 

Customers' key strategic questions

Let’s approach this from a customer-oriented perspective as if wearing the customer’s glasses! What are the crucial key strategic questions, which the customers ask you? They are usually something like the following: 

Drawing of a man sweating. Text: “Customer’s key questions”; “How are you going to solve our crucial problem?”

The definition of work is to solve other people’s problems. Compensation is the reward! Let me show the logic in this. 

Top down + bottom up

The point is to go both top-down and bottom-up. If you would wear your customer’s glasses, what is the Ultimate One Customer Core Question, in which the customer needs your help? This is solved together with the unit key persons. The number one question breaks down into three key strategic questions. 

What is the challenge in which the customer needs us? Crystallize this into three key questions! 

Once you figure these out with your unit, you will get a helicopter view of your process. 

Flowchart describing how customer view process leads to key strategic questions, focus areas, goals for the next quarter and actions.

Every answer from each question is divided into two boxes. What is the market’s strategic rationale? WHY is this question important for the customer? The other box will be filled with answers about WHAT your response is to this question. Both boxes will have about 7-10 bullet points. Every question has its own page. 

All three key questions also get their own separate workshop. With efficiency, one workshop is done in less than two hours. With these three short meetings, the whole project is completed in a very short time. During the final meeting, the responses are crystallized into focus areas and the tasks needed to make them happen. 

A helicopter view over the business unit’s work

Can you see the thin blue (indigo) vertical line going through the “Next Quarter Goals” -box in the above image? Everything on its left side is the helicopter view over the process. I began yesterday’s meeting by saying, “Now I’ll be taking you on a refreshing helicopter ride!”  This helicopter ride will give an upper-level perspective to the unit’s work. 

I’ve mentioned my motto, which is: “Head in the clouds, but with really long legs.” 

If one looks at the operation from above, it looks different than from a grassroots level. Grassroots perspective is critical as well; we need it! However, it’s the central part of every work. The question is: If one jumps on a helicopter ride and invests these few hours in it, does it produce different kinds of goals than with a bottom-up method? – OF COURSE, IT DOES! 

Multi-level goals

In general, there are multi-level goals. There are yearly goals – like, closing the books each year (accounting)I have also talked a lot about units and businesses having quarterly goals because yearly goals are too high-level. People tend to implement the quarterly goals much more quickly. 

3 levels of arrows representing a different types of goals. Quarter goals, Annual Goals and Strategic Response. Text: “Different level goals”

This exercise is all about the long blue curve, the strategic responses. Of course, the financing unit in yesterday’s case has implemented this curve for a long time. It is now only made visible! They have implemented strategic responses but haven’t necessarily documented them. When they are documented, everything begins to look different! 

Facilitation — The Golden Grain

Let me share with you one more pride, which is also the gold grain of facilitation. As people sit in a meeting, an online meeting, for example, they all look at the screen. Every key question has been provided its own slide with two boxes filled with bullet points. The first box is filled with reasons WHY the customers want this thing. What is the market suction? The second box is filled with WHAT the company’s response is to the need. 

The gold grain of facilitation is when others speak, you transcribe it into text in front of them. This requires practice; I have practiced for years. It’s quite challenging, but when you get the hang of it, people begin thinking freely. They constantly see the summary of the conversation, and it leads to iteration and a better outcome. 

Drawing of different people attending a workshop. Text: “Gold grain of facilitation”; “Why?”; “What?”; “They speak – you transcribe it in front of them”

This is actually the climax of the strategy consultation. Even if the meeting language is Finnish, everything is written down in the internationally recognized corporate language, English. Crystallizing and simultaneously editing thoughts is a talent. But, when the meeting ends, it’s a wrap! It leads to a better quality of thinking. In an expert job like this, the difference between poor and better performance can be like the difference between one and one thousand. If you dig with a shovel, the difference can be double by that much. 

Example

Here’s a hypothetical for you to think about. Let’s say you want to organize a party and hire a band to entertain the guests. You decide that classical music is the way and a string quartet is what you need. But you also want the band to perform something new… So you need a new composition! The question… Do you order a new composition from Mozart or Mr. Smith? What’s the difference in quality? Of course, Mr. Smith is the one you go with because Mozart is no longer among us! 

The gold grain of facilitation is the fact that the conversation is visible on the screen. Give me a call, and I’ll show you what it’s like in practice! 

Helicopter view

Let’s return once more to the subject of the helicopter view. If the helicopter perspective is in use and a few hours are invested in it, are the goals it produces better and different as if one would only operate on a ground level with one’s hands in the mud? OF COURSE. 

Drawing of a dart board and a helicopter. Text: “If we utilize the helicopter view, will it produce new better goals?”; “Of course!”

That’s what happened in yesterday’s process as well. People were delighted. It was refreshing to be on the upper level, not only in the operative everyday life. This is very exciting! 

What was the feedback?

Here are a few comments from yesterday’s meeting: 

what did people have to say? comments in finnish and english

“Todella tehokas tapa koostaa ja käsitellä melko suuria kokonaisuuksia.” – A very efficient way to compose and deal with the big picture    

“Great linkage through iterative structured way of working together.”  

“Kirkasti tavoitteita hyvin, tykkäsin prosessista. Saatiin hyviä ylätason tavoitteita, joihin hyvä linkittää alempien tasojen actioneita.”  – Clarified the goals well, I liked the process. We got good upper-level goals and good actions to link underneath them. 

Hyvää keskustelua josta päästiin myös ihan konkreettiseen alemman tason tekemiseen kiinni” – A good conversation from where we got down to lower-level activities. 

“Erittäin hyvää keskustelua, jonka Markus tiivisti tehokkaasti. Konkreettisten toimenpiteiden osalta painottaisin vielä perusprosessien kehittämistä. Siinä riittää paljon työtä.” – Very good conversation, which Markus crystallized efficiently. Regarding the concrete actions, I would emphasize the development of basic processes more. There’s a lot of work to do in just that.” 

“Hyvä fokus asioihin ja tarpeisiin.” – A good focus on matters and needs” 

“Great discussion followed by conclusions. We need to keep this alive and updated.”  

I always tell the management team members that I’m so tired of the comment “Good conversation”. Conversing is important, but the outcome is very important and it’s often absent from the conversation. 

Final Check

Once you have the strategic responses to the customers’ questions and the market situation, it’s time for the final check. 

Drawing of a Strategy 1Pager. Text: “Final Check”; “Company strategy sector”; “Unit’s alternative”; “Strategy 1Pager”

The point is to check that you are inside the boundaries set by the company’s strategy, within the lines of the sector. The blue arrow is the strategic response! 

Ignite your strategy by answering crucial strategic key questions! Read more.🔥 

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Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

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Strategic Leadership

2.07 Agile Strategy

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Agile Strategy — 2.07

Many strategies feel stiff and high-flying, like they are soaring above the cloudsa bit like if they are something an ordinary person doesn’t need to worry about. This is not how things need to be! Take a look at this. It doesn’t have to be the case!  A strategy can be agile!

Text: “What makes a strategy agile?”

What makes the strategy agile? Let’s think! Is it the fact that the strategy is altered and updated constantly? – Unfortunately, no. The strategy becomes agile when it’s on people’s minds and they live & breathe it and they update it. 

Text: “The fact that it’s alive and on people’s minds.”

Usually, the problem is that the word strategy is not understood. Here is a simplified explanation for what strategy means. Strategy means how the company fulfills its purpose.

Text: “Strategy = HOW”

Strategy has become a difficult word to understand over the years, therefore it must be demystified. We can make the strategy truly exciting and also simple to understand. When this takes place the strategy can be understood, which means it can be implemented, which means that it becomes agile. 

Strategy between the ears

Drawing of a human head with mess inside the head represented by a red line. Text: “Strategy between the ears”

An entrepreneur starting a company has the strategy between their ears. They don’t even notice when they update the strategy. After a while, they may come face-to-face with some situation, which causes the strategy to become confused. Their mind becomes a mess, and since the strategy exists only in their head, it too becomes a mess. The company is suddenly in trouble. The more people are employed by the company, the bigger the problem is. 

Too many directions

Drawing of a five people and an icon of many red arrows going in different directions. Text: “Too many directions”

Focus

In a company with tens or hundreds of people, the lack of focus starts to show. Too many directions easily are discovered. In this case, the CEO or founder no longer controls the situation. There comes a time when the CEO realizes something needs to be written down. 

Drawing of two heads, one has a mess inside the head and the other has a clear structure. An arrow points from the mess towards clear structure.

Yearly clock

Let’s think about the yearly clock for a bit. This is the annual schedule when things take place inside companies. From a certain perspective, the yearly clock is a sad thing to have to deal with. Bigger companies have considered the yearly clock to be nearly essential for successfully running everything. The strategy is created in the spring, operation and budget planning happen in the fall. It repeats again the next year. Since corporate legal entities are typically required to do accounting, and hand in the books at the end of the accounting period, which usually is at the end of the year, then it becomes really tempting to set up a schedule that goes hand in hand with it. That’s the yearly clock in a nutshell. Next year’s goals must be planned and the dividends paid yearly to the owners if there is an opportunity for it. Therefore, it’s understandable to use the yearly clock also when strategy updating takes place.  

Figure of a circle with four sectors, each sector representing a quarter and text: “Yearly clock”. The figure represents strategy update schedule.

It’s possible to challenge the springtime strategy hassle. It’s worth taking the time to think if the yearly clock is the smartest way to do things. Likewise, many people associate the word strategy with thick slide decks consisting of multiple presentation slides. Many people hate the amount of work that needs to be put into keeping these slides up-to-date and constructing new ones. It’s a huge amount of work.  

Here’s how working with thick slide decks typically goes: Take the last year’s slides and alter them slightly. After that, the management team sits cross-eyed over many workshops. In the end, they get excited when a new update and a new core are discovered. After that, a big briefing is held, during which the new strategy is presented and everyone is confused why people don’t begin implementing it and the strategy doesn’t become concrete. 

This begs the question, is there a better way to go about this? Well… of course there is!  

Strategy checkups quarterly

Start doing quarterly strategy checkups. In practice, this means, that a day or a two-day meeting is held once every quarter. The first thing is to look back and see if the goals of the previous quarter were achieved. The next step is to define the relevant goals, which should be included in the next quarter. This way proceeding happens in sprints and the strategy is looked at several times a year. It concretizes into quarterly goals. This is pretty solid! It works great in larger organizations, which usually have this in place in some form. However, not all ways are born equal. Some are preferred over others, at least if the management team desires to be agile. There are some very agile methods out there, and there are likewise very inefficient ways. It’s all about the meeting design and how things are followed up.  

Figure of a circle with four sectors, a drawing of two people and text: “Quarterly strategy check-ups”, representing regular strategy checks.

The agile way. During the strategy days, different unit leaders explain what, in their minds, would be the smartest move in the next quarter. They also explain how well they achieved the previous quarterly goals. If something wasn’t achieved, these goals are included in the next quarter for the finishing touch. Proceeding becomes very clear. 

Drawing of a meeting around a large screen, two red arrows, and text: “Q1, Q2”. This drawing represents a quarterly strategy checkup.

Check for updates

At the end of the strategy day, the Strategy 1Pager is checked for updates. When the strategy is on one piece of paper, it’s easy to update. Certain issues specifically are included on the page:  

  1. What is our Purpose? Purpose can be thought of as mission + vision. The mission is here now, and vision is the mission in the future. It only improves and deepens. The Purpose is the shining sun to the customers. 
  1. Focus areas. Strategy 1Pager consists of usually three or four focus areas. 
  1. Goals. Concrete goals are listed under the focus areas. They can be strategic development projects, or merely headlines for a task that needn’t be projected. 

When these points are looked at and updated once every quarter, you also look at the strategy. This is absolutely fantastic because this is how the operation becomes agile. Strategy is no longer carved in stone. Instead, we can proceed according to the market situation.  

It can be that the strategy needs to be updated much faster henceforth, than how things were done in the past. If the management team desires to use an agile strategy henceforth, then after setting it up it becomes possible to update it very quickly whenever the need arises. Agility provides huge benefits like this compared to more traditional and slower approaches. In short, if a company desires agility, then the strategy update can’t take too long. The work method needs to allow for speed, and a speedy method brings quality when the method is designed well. A badly designed approach always brings bad results. A good method, on the other hand, gives good results. It’s all about the output.

At the end of the quarterly check-ups, the big picture is looked at as well. Does the strategy page need to be updated? A helicopter perspective unfolds. It’s a bit like the hamburger model, in which top-down and bottom-up are combined and the operation is the juicy patty in the middle.  

Next goals

Drawing of a corporate hierarchy with goals, two red arrows, and text: “Q1, Q2”. This drawing represents the definition of new goals.

In order for quarterly agility to work in practice, we need the strategy to be displayed on a digital board, not only in PowerPoint. The common digital board allows everyone to look at it and to edit the contents as required. Goals are followed up and updated constantly in meetings between the quarterly check-ups. 

This digital strategy board consists of columns, in which the goals are written down on cards. Goals can be marked according to color to indicate how the task is progressing. This means that the strategy is constantly in front of people’s eyes in everyday leadership!  

With this approach, the strategy becomes agile, even if people are not paying attention to the fact. When one focus area is finished, it is replaced with a new one. This might happen faster than at a yearly pace. 

In conclusion, I could say that this is very easy to run in practice, but it is not possible to do without using technology. The analog alternative is too slow and cumbersome. If you don’t want to use technology, you will be facing lots of practical challenges. 

agile updating, strategy 1pager

Agile updating

When we operate with an agile strategy approach, things start to happen at a faster pace. We have quarterly check-ups, which are booked for the whole year at once. Tasks finish on time. Otherwise, there’s not enough time to think about the big things because of the hurry. 

People are happier because operating is so much lighter and, in fact, much more efficient. Competitiveness increases. 

This is a super strong way to do things!

Create an agile strategy and ignite it! Read more.🔥

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Leadership

2.10 Creating A Better Meeting Structure For Companies

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Creating A Better Meeting Structure For Companies — 2.10

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Today I thought I would address the cornerstones of business leadership, the company meeting structure. At the moment this is a current matter to me, and I thought now is the time to share this information onward. I’ll let you in on a few crucial principles.

The first principle is that the company meeting structure can be improved significantly. I’ll show you why and how.

Why company meeting structure?

Organizational chart hierarchy with boxes in black on three levels. Leadership written to the left and Backbone to the right.

Let’s begin with why this traditional hierarchical structure is needed. It might be too obvious, but it necessarily isn’t. We’re talking about self-management. I attended an evaluation team meeting where this topic was discussed. The team consisted of scientists. 

A lot happens in a self-managing organization. People get to direct themselves. Better organizing methods than a traditional hierarchy might be discovered. In my opinion that a traditional hierarchy has very many good qualities. Can we find a new delicate balance, in which hierarchy and alternating teams can work together with agility? 

Backbone

A meeting structure is good because its job is to lead and to ensure productivity. It is also the backbone of the operation. Many organizations that have given up their backbone have realized that having a backbone has its perks. An organization can live without a backbone as an ameba, but it needs a lot of rethinking. 

I helped make this type of transformation in a Finnish organization, where a 20-year-old hierarchical organization transformed into a new self-managing business without named superiors. The process went very well, but it’s an interesting process, alright. There are many ways to organize between a traditional hierarchy and a self-managing hierarchy.  However, we should always understand the direction we need to proceed in. The direction needs to be looked at from every angle, it requires prioritizing, and that’s leading at its best. 

Need for organization

Many require a backbone. If everything just floats around, it doesn’t make employees happy. On the other hand, if everything is too strict, that doesn’t work either. A delicate balance for every business culture and people’s historic experience must be found. It’s very important. We must figure out what we need to do and how we want to lead ourselves. This is why a meeting structure is usually needed. In practice, it happens through a systematic rhythm of meetings, which are booked well in advance. These meetings need to be written down on everyone’s calendars. It gives a lot of structure. 

In practice, several organizations have a hierarchy, levels. A private entrepreneur is alone, but they must also collect their thoughts and stop to think. They have a meeting with themselves. A need for a clearer direction arises already in an organization with tens of people. Otherwise, people begin going in different directions. A need for strategy creation and visualization is born. One must get organized. In a bigger organization, it’s a must to think about who does what and who is responsible for what. This, however, can be done traditionally or in a new agile way. 

Hybrid! Organizational chart hierarchy with boxes in black on three levels. Team meeting drawings have been placed on top of the chart.

Teamwork

An organization has a lot of teamwork, which happens outside the box and the home teams. I call my superior’s team my home team. We need parallel teams, alternating ones. These are customer teams, project teams, etc. These teams are constantly on top of the hierarchy. I truly love this hybrid organization, as you might have observed. Hybrid organizations require more team meetings. 

Simple drawing of five people with laptops looking at a digital notice board beside the text “Make work visible!”.

Meetings have their own digital boards

Let’s create each team with its own forum and its own living digital board. I personally use Trello. All the group’s goals are made into columns, which consist of notes, on which the assignments are written down on. These can be marked according to color to indicate how the task is progressing. When the team’s work situation is visualized on the board, efficiency goes through the roof. If conversation only happens during meetings, the conversation is left undocumented and disappears. Recording the meeting doesn’t help, because no one is willing to watch and to go through the whole thing. One must document the important points. 

Make work visible!

The fact that we document, write down the main points, and upkeep the work pile, is a pretty tough thing. When we prioritize work tasks for the next sprint while using a digital board, it diminishes people’s stress. They no longer need to carry the whole weight of the work pile, it’s enough to do the work only for the next sprint. After that, the situation is evaluated again, and tasks for the next sprint are decided. A sprint is a calendar time: A week, two weeks, or four weeks. It’s never late, the prioritizing for the next sprint is done when the previous one is finished. This truly increases efficiency. Nothing is as important as the choice, the prioritizing. 

My claim is that every team needs to have a Teams and its own board. The board displays the group’s Purpose: Why it exists and what its next big goals are. Everyone must be able to write on the board, so Excel isn’t the tool for this. Rarely, if ever, have I seen an Excel chart that many people update simultaneously. Excel is a great tool, but it’s more of a tool for individuals.  

The point is the wisdom – which I didn’t invent myself – but it is something I always speak in favor of: Make your work visible! Immediately after you have made the work visible, things begin to happen. 

Between meetings

2 drawings of five people each looking at a digital notice board. Arrow with speech bubbles connects drawings. “Conversation continues, decisions! Not through email!”

The next epiphany is that conversations can be continued in between meetings. If, and when questions and challenges arise between meetings, are people expected to wait until the next meeting? That’s slow. In practice, conversations and decision-making can be continued in between meetings. This is something that essentially improves efficiency. Don’t wait for a meeting. Today, this is simulated with email, but all the topics and messages are only disorganized in everyone’s email and work becomes fragmented. The structure increases efficiency.  

Common chat forums

I believe in the following: Technology is a blessing. It is here to make conversation between meetings more efficient. The conversation continues between meetings and decisions can be made. The trick that will increase the effect is that conversations are not kept in emails! Instead, conversations are held in common chat forums like Teams, for instance. Same subject messages are no longer disorganized in everyone’s email, they are beautifully bundled into the Teams chat threads. 

A person can be a part of several simultaneously ongoing conversations. All conversations also aren’t equally important. The benefit of Teams is that it’s possible to dam the messages. One can prioritize which messages one wants notifications from. Some messages one wants to be notified of immediately, some not so often, some only now and then. The new system is to read the Teams messages first thing in the morning, after that the ad hoc messages in the email. The volume of emails decreases substantially. Fast communication increases any which way you have defined it yourself. 

The benefit of documentation

The benefit of it is also that if an employee leaves their job, documentation isn’t in their private email. Reading work-related emails is illegal and they cannot be read with the whole organization. A new employee can scroll up and down the conversation and is therefore left with a much more detailed understanding of what’s happening. 

This is a great opportunity! Get out of the email! Everything that’s left in the email is ad hoc messages. Email communication can decrease up to 80% and conversations are moved to Teams. Everyone can prioritize which messages they want to read. All the extra ones will no longer disturb the important ones. Arranging digital teams is a great opportunity! 

This is a change of infrastructure, a cultural change for the management system as well. Those that can take this into practice better than others create a competitive advantage. But I always add: If you can manage the old way, keep going on. No one is forcing anyone to make changes, as long as money won’t run out. 

Drawing representing a box with indigo border and white intertior. Text inside the box: Purpose, Frequency, Duration, Participation & Agenda.

Defining meetings

When approaching a company meeting structure, we give every meeting a reason to why it exists. What are its motive and goal? How often is a meeting held? How long does it take? An hour? Two? Who participates in it and what is its general agenda? Can meetings be cut short due to online teams? Some KPI fanatics also define the meeting indicator. 

Drawing of an organizational chart with three levels. The number of boxes per level is 1, 3 and 7.

Traditional organization

Let’s look into this traditional organization once more. 

Of course, it’s ok to stick with any organizational model as long as you wish. As long as you manage, that’s that! If the operation efficiency is starting to bug you, you’re no longer managing and this is the time to look and see how others have tackled the issue. This operation model has been developed around the world for decades. In fact, since the 1950’s when the first agile organizations were created. 

A traditional organization naturally has a management team. It’s a nice feeling to be a part of the management team, it’s like earning a gold medal. I have however begun to wonder if it indeed isn’t worth a gold medal. A true leader has followers. If your leader didn’t have their position, would you follow them? Quite many would say that they would never follow them. The reason they follow is because their leader is wearing their rank. We need true leaders! If you have one, hold on tight! 

Organizational chart with three indigo circles have been drawn on top. The circles are called management, unit management & manager’s team.

Home teams - Permanent teams

A hierarchical organization has several permanent teams: A management team, department leadership teams and the CEO’s teams. However, there are plenty of alternating teams depending on the situation. They usually aren’t specifically defined; they come and go. And that’s a good thing! It already is the embryo of agility. 

Traditional organizational chart of 3 levels with a red arrow from top to bottom. Levels are named: management, unit management & manager’s team.

If we look at how decision-making works, many organizations go as the red arrow in the image above. It has an iteration from top-down and bottom-up. In many places, it’s useful to first ask about what goals people would suggest for the next period. These suggestions are bundled together to see if they are sufficient or does one need to expect more for things to work. This creates the hamburger model, as bottom-up and top-down are combined. The result of iteration is the juicy hamburger patty in the middle.  

If you have a traditional organization and you want to roll with it, please do! Go for it! As long as you manage, everyone is happy, also the customers. But when the customers are no longer happy, a question arises if things should be looked at from a new angle. And the answer to that question is always YES! 

Traditional organizational chart with several teams drawn on top. Includes text: customer teams, management, unit management & manager’s team.

The fact that many teams are needed doesn’t make this matter any easier. They exist also in the traditional organization whether you have visualized them or not, there they are. It’s almost impossible to operate within one box, one needs inter-box teams. This is where customer teams, project teams, special assignment teams, product development teams, etc. are created. This can be a bit tricky to manage. 

Process chart with five boxes. Changing the business, running the business, business unite performance review, people and governance & corporate online forum.

New example

One organization went and changed its whole company meeting structure to get rid of the management group. They realized that the management group should be divided into several and that discussions about customers and sales and inner processes and managing should happen separately. 

Running the business was a conversation only for the business leaders. People and governance were for business leaders, HR, and other supporting functions. Once every quarter, they had a Changing the business – conversation, where they made slight alterations to the strategy. The new thing was only to include the business leaders and none of the functional staff. A bigger strategy upgrade is done separately, where the functions are included.  

Once a month, a performance review is held for the departments. It’s a number meeting in which the performance of the business unit is evaluated. The meeting includes the CEO, department leader, CFO, and the unit controller. 

In addition, a larger quarterly meeting is held online. The whole organization is included in the check-up. Online meetings utilize teamwork by dividing people into breakout rooms to discuss. 

Does one need a management group?

So, do we need a management group at all? Not necessarily, because all teams require leadership. Is it actually even logically correct to talk about a management group? One unit quit its management group. Only topics that need to be addressed when needed are taken into the conversation. Simple. 

Drawing of many table meetings reduced to a lesser number of meetings. Representing a reduced number of meetings held inside an organization.

Less meetings

Many companies have new goal to reduce the time that goes into meetings. Let’s hold fewer meetings and make them quicker! 

Drawing of a clock that is speeding onward.

Quicker meetings

Can the meeting time be reduced by half? It might be doable if a digital twin of the operation exists. This is the digital twin of operation. That means that the operation exists in Teams and on its digital board! Between meetings, topics can be dealt with asyncronically and the need to discuss during meetings is reduced. 

Reduce your meeting time to half! That’s quite something for the business culture!

Drawing of a person thinking about an organizational chart and asking for opinions from a group sitting around a table.

How to create a new company meeting structure?

How is a new structure created? In practice, the company leader begins to wonder if they should create a new meeting structure. They might have a “right hand” or an outside professional to give advice. Then the leader creates a draft and asks their own group for opinions. I think it’s efficient that one starts with a suggestion and not from ground zero with everyone. It might be that the matter dilutes with more ease this way. 

Make your company meeting structure better, and your meetings quicker!  

Ignite your strategy! Read more.🔥

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

1.06 The stumbling block of Consensus

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The Stumbling Block Of Consensus | 1.06

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Today I thought I would address an issue I have come across in my work. I’m talking about consensus in strategy. Consensus is a really great thing; we know it’s good. However, it also has its downsides.

Figure with a drawing of a sword with a shining tip. Text: “Consensus – a double-edged sword, + involved many, + implementation, - slow, - waters down.

Consensus is like a double-edged sword. The good thing about it is that many are involved. When everyone has been heard, it gives a better kickstart to the implementation. However, in many cases this is a really slow process. People discuss and discuss and only at the very end they come to a conclusion. Sweden has learned the art of discussing, but they know how to keep the decision sharp. Otherwise, everything is watered down, and this is one of the downsides of consensus. 

I ran into a comment like this: “Can an individual comment be a crucial factor, shouldn’t one think about the big picture?”  

I believe that a single comment can make all the difference. Let’s look at the story about the emperor’s new clothes: Only one child was brave enough to say that the emperor was naked. When we listen to a group of people, one person’s opinion can be crucial, even if others disagreed. Listen to the individual! 

Case: Brain-organization

Drawing of a large group & text: “Expectations, intelligent comments, ensuring points of view, all details. Red arrow points to “no decisions”

I have a case from a so-called “brain organization.” It’s full of brilliant people. The organization has developed a problem: Decisions aren’t made, and everything is taking too long. I’ve tried to figure out what the situation is. It can be that the organization’s expectations are so high that everyone’s comments have to be very intelligent. If you don’t have anything smart to say, better not say anything. 

If a comment has to be worth a Nobel prize, no one will dare to say a word! This creates a slow process if one always needs to make sure one’s perspective is worthy. If the organization’s culture expects that no stone is left unturned, it leads to long meetings. Progress is very slow. Decisions aren’t made, and this is a problem in many places. 

Value: Courage

Drawing of two arms in a boxing pose & text: “What is everyone araid of? The boss, differing comments, shame”. Figure represents the value of courage.

The organization I just described will happily name courage as their value. Values are interesting because they often describe precisely what the organization is lacking. They wouldn’t be out in the open declaring their values for no reason. So, there is not enough courage. If courage is emphasized as your value, you are afraid of something.   

What is an organization afraid of? Is the boss feared? Do they punish for mistakes? Are differing comments feared because one might be ridiculed if the thought is not intelligent enough? 

Text: “How to get rid of excess consensus?”

How to get rid of excess consensus in the strategy? Enough is enough! Make that a value! Every stone doesn’t need to be turned. The main thing is that one proceeds, things can be fixed on the go if needed. 

Drawing of a cudgel & text: “Enough is enough! After hearing everyone, the CEO decides; The matter has been analyzed enough; It’s time to proceed.”

When people’s points of view have been heard enough, the CEO says that they have enough information to make a decision. The CEO’s job is to make the decision. They make it for various reasons. If they didn’t choose your point of view, there’s also a reason for that. The CEO might also say that there is another reason for the decision, but they can’t tell you yet. It’s time to proceed! 

Details are hard to see from a helicopter perspective. From a ground perspective, all you see are details and not the whole picture. It would help if you had both perspectives. A decision needs to be changed if needed. Consensus is often not an agile idea. It’s hard to change. 

The power of agility

A sector with a blue arrow pointing towards a sun. Text: “Not set in stone! Decisions can be improved”. This represents the power of agility.

People need to join the strategy journey to carry out the purpose. It’s good to create a consensus in the strategy, but it can’t water down the decisions. A good leader has the guts to make a decision even if others don’t agree. The management has heard everyone’s opinions, and then a decision gets made.  

Ignite your strategy without excess consensus! Read more.🔥 

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Leadership

2.11 Transferring the management system

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Setting Up Your Management System In Microsoft Teams — 2.11

Today I will talk about how a management system is transferred into Microsoft Teams, and how to bring efficiency into leadership. This is one of my favorite subjects and now I will share it with you.

Organic spreading of Teams

Drawing of groups of people holding various team meetings online through Microsoft Teams. Text: “Home team, Project team, Theme team”

After the management has decided to start using Teams, it spreads naturally within the organization. Plenty of teams exist and people begin to form their own. It’s truly great. I believe that the organic way of spreading is the best way. 

People form their own home team. In addition to that, project teams and theme-based teams are formed as well. It might start to feel like there are a huge number of teams. I have created a four-step system to portray how the use of Teams usually spreads. 

Strategic usage of Teams

Figure of a ladder that describe the strategic use of Microsoft Teams. Text: “Phase 1: File Sharing, Chat, Free founding of Teams, File Sharing Into use, Many ideas how to use; Phase 2: Video Meetings, Video meetings start, screen sharing, from email to chats; Phase 3: Myriad of Teams, Feeling of too many Teams, Prioritization need, Meetings to channels, App Integration starts; Phase 4: Digital Twin, Management System to Teams, Physical + Digital Discussions, Strategy Implementation Tool, Goal Setting & Follow-up”
Step 1. 

The management decides to take Teams into use. When people get to form their own teams freely, they start popping up like mushrooms. Some organizations don’t allow people to form teams; they think teams should be formed through a strict hierarchy where the top decides what is created. I belong to a school of thought which thinks this is not the best way to go about it. The professionals know exactly how many teams are needed in the situation. Files are shared within Teams, and it’s effortless. Chats begin replacing email while decreasing the number of individual emails. Communication is transferred into Teams chat forums. 

Step 2. 

Teams video chats are taken into use almost simultaneously. To management, this is often the first step. It’s great to see the other person’s face and to share screens with one another. The road towards a better meeting structure has begun.Many people experience a eureka moment and make a huge personal digital leap. A company’s way of working proceeds in the next step.  

Step 3. 

After some time, there are many teams, and a need to prioritize comes into question. By prioritizing, I use the term filter. Teams has a fantastic filter system! You can choose the conversations to pin as most important. At the same time, the teams you are involved with can be prioritized. Hide the ones you wish to follow only once a week or more seldomly. Many understand this concept better when they think about conversation channels as an old binder. Certain matters need a place to be saved, and this creates its own channel. This is how conversations become structured! Messages are no longer messy in the email system– they are structured within every team. 

Then there is the integration between apps. For example, Teams can bring all your Trello boards and many apps directly into the conversation. This way everything is in one place! 

Teams is an ecosystem, and it’s Microsoft’s big thing.  

Step 4. 

This step is my favorite step! We can transfer leadership into Teams. I have given this the name Digital Twin. If you have a building or an object, you can create a digital twin for it, which can be utilized in a simulation.  

In this situation, we are talking about a digital twin to leadership. It means that the company’s central nervous system gets a digital twin inside Teams. We gain transparency and automatic reporting. Traditionally reporting has meant that you stop everything you’re doing and explain all you have done to someone else: You report. When I use the word reporting, I imply and mean that information transfers automatically without a separate manual or oral briefing. 

My favorite thing is to get strategy implementation going inside the digital twin. Getting strategy implementation and check-ups into Teams is a big thing! It, of course, involves goal setting. We suggest setting goals within Trello through the Teams interface. If this seems confusing now because you are not familiar with either software, rest assured it will make more sense when you do it in practice. For now, please take this more like a sneak peek at what you can achieve. If you are an experienced Teams user, you probably know what I refer to. 

In practice, Teams often spreads through the organization, but the management continues to lead the old way. Now is a great chance to get the management to see the light in how Teams can be used for everything. 

Tough core – Management system

Figure of a hierarchical organization chart in tandem with Microsoft Teams.

The tough core of every company is a hierarchy in the background. It includes superior-subordinate relationships, which form the hierarchy. The company’s core is the regular meetings, which are created when the superiors lead their groups. If we manage to create a digital twin for this core, it’s a big thing! Things get easier, meetings become shorter and are required less because information reporting takes place automatically. One necessarily doesn’t need to attend a meeting; it might be enough to read the main points from Teams. 

1.Frequent meetings

Drawing of a meeting agenda for frequent meetings. Text: “Purpose, Frequency, Duration, Participants, Agenda”

 Every company has regular meetings. They are defined by purpose, frequency, length, participants, and agenda, and their mirror images are transferred into Teams.  

Management system meetings

Process chart with five boxes. Changing the business, running the business, business unite performance review, people and governance & corporate online forum.

Here are the teams of a case company’s management system. They have four corporate-level meetings. On a certain week, they look at how business is going and what their customers are saying. Numbers are looked at in the second meeting, right after they have been published. Also, a meeting takes place where the focus is on work, culture, and the inner processes. These are the supporting functions. The management group has been divided into three theme-based meetings. Once every quarter is a check-up to see if the strategy is good and new goals are defined for the next quarter. In addition to that, a large Corporate Online Forum is held as well. Currently, up to 250 people can be added, 49 of which can take part in video chatting simultaneously. I’m confident the number of attendee spots may increase over time with software updates.  

This is the new management system. If all this is kept outside Teams, all opportunities haven’t been taken into action. 

2. Communication

Drawing of a figure with two meetings and an arrow, that represents the timespan between two meetings.

In the image above you see the management team meetings four weeks apart. In between meetings, people have learned to chat with one another and traffic has moved out of emails into Teams channels. But what is the communication that takes place between meetings, the model? Isn’t it often so, that two people talk on the phone or by email with one another and very rarely with the whole group? 

Figure that represents the communication that takes place in-between two separate meetings.

Does one need to wait for the next meeting if a decision needs to be made? That’s awfully inefficient. If and when we can communicate with the management team as a group in-between the formal meeting times, we can make a decision faster. The conversation has moved into a Teams channel. 

Digital Twin

Figure that represents the creation of a digital twin to the physical organization of a company.

It means that the hierarchy we have in the physical world has gotten an image of itself in Teams. A digital twin has been born! All meetings have a separate channel and topics, notepads, Protocol, and the whole meeting itself is found within the channel. This is truly a major thing! As I’m writing this, very few companies have woken up to the possibilities of a digital twin. They have Teams, but they lack a digital twin for leadership. Here is a great chance to bring the company’s culture to a whole new level. 

No waiting

Drawing conveying time between an issue and decision. The drawing represents the reduction of time required with a digital management system.

It also means less waiting. Decisions can be made more or less in real-time. 

Customers are thankful!

Simple drawing of 3 cheering persons. This drawing represents thankful customers.

And customers are thankful! They get faster service, and people can make decisions with more self-management. Trust is the foundation that the professional knows what they’re doing. If this is not in the culture, this model won’t spread either. If you manage to do things the old way without perceived issues, keep doing what you’re doing! But when you start to feel like competitive advantage needs to improve and you desire even more agility, here’s a good solution to your improvement desires. The hybrid organization will help with agility.

A cheering person and three diamonds. Text: Everything in one place. Information can be filtered.”. Representing a digital management system.can be filtered

Everyone is thankful for having a new, more efficient way forward. The management discovers how the company can run even more efficiently. Everything is in one place, and they bundle up in Teams. Notifications can be regulated with the built-in filter. It’s just wonderful! 

This has given birth to a four-tier leadership system! Many organizations are currently in step 3, feeling like they’re drowning in the sea of teams. But the filter is the solution and a great opportunity! Think of it as a dam that regulates the flow of water. That’s a key metaphor!

Introduce the digital twin and bring the company leadership into Teams! 

Ignite your strategy! Read more.🔥

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Leadership

2.12 Help! My boss is a perfectionist!

Stradigo

Help! My boss is a perfectionist! — 2.12

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Today’s topic is perfectionism, and what to do if you have a perfectionist as a manager. As a strategy consultant, I often encounter situations where the customer’s team has problems with internal cooperation. I had a case, during which the CEO and the management team members were really frustrated. The chairman of the board was a perfectionist, and a perfectionist is never satisfied. I’ll explain, how one should act in situations like this. I hope this is of help to you in your situation!

Pros and cons of perfectionism and a perfectionist manager

Simple drawing of a diamond and text: “+ Creates quality”. This represents the benefit of working with a perfectionist manager.xt: “+ Creates quality”. This represents the benefits one can gain from a perfectionist.

The best thing about a perfectionist manager is that they want quality. If and when they are good, they produce quality. Although, I have had a case in which everything was over-quality. Customers were thankful and the results were pretty good, but there was no growth. That’s not fun. Quality might go overboard. 

Simple drawing of a person who is sweating & text: “– Nothing is enough”. This represents the drawback of working with a perfectionist manager.

The downside of perfectionistic behavior is that nothing is enough. A perfectionist manager will always let you know that something needs to be better. During one case when the management group spoke of customer needs, the CEO didn’t want to listen. They wanted to know about products instead. When the issue of products was then addressed, the CEO wanted to know about customer satisfaction. There was always something that was missing, nothing was enough. Decisions weren’t made, and it was very frustrating to the management group. 

The question is, what is the relief to a situation like this? 

relief

I’m sure you have your own experiences from perfectionists, possibly even your own solutions as well. However, I’ll show you a solution model, which has helped me personally. 

Confirm you have been listening

Simple drawing of a person with a speech bubble speaking. Text: “I see!”. This represents the person confirming that they have been listening.

When the perfectionist manager goes for the “But…” -moment, confirm you have heard what they said!  

I remember that the first time I encountered this was in a company with a CEO called Markku. He had a management team full of extremely smart scholar men. The company had developed a culture, in which the management team was very critical and it felt like everyone was competing about who was the smartest and who can list all the disadvantages the quickest. Markku was really skillful! Even though the critique sounded pretty aggressive to my ear, Markku continued with a question: 

“Do you mean that…” 

And when he phrased the other person’s message in his own words, the other person nodded. This most definitely doesn’t mean that Markku always agreed with them. It meant that he had understood the other person’s message, which in turn made them relax. 

I had a similar experience when I was young – if you know me, I always go towards new possibilities. One colleague of mine only saw the dangers in every situation. However, one day I understood to say: 

“Listen, Matti, if we do nothing we will go down for sure.” 

That was the first time Matti ever nodded at my comment. 

One must listen to what the other person is saying and repeat it so that they can relax, knowing the information has gone through. 

Match or Mismatch?

Text: “Match-mismatch”

You need to understand if a person’s way of thinking is a match or a mismatch. Are you someone who looks at a beer bottle and realizes that half of it has been drunk, or are you someone who rejoices over the fact that there’s still half of it left? Both of these mindsets have their perks. Both are needed because if we don’t see the missing things, the gaps, how are we able to fill them up? However, this can also create distress. A person that wishes to rejoice over achievements can truly become frustrated if the only thing they constantly hear from a CEO is that something is lacking. Nothing is enough, and more is expected!  

It has helped me a lot when I have realized someone behaves as a mismatch. 

I had another project during which a guy said that they lack this, this, and that. I thought to myself that his brain generated a mismatch-type. Also, I got a strong feeling that it was important for him to be heard. If a mismatch is combined with a so-called Ego-boy feature, meaning you want to let your ego out, it can be very straining to others. 

You can't change another person's way of processing information

Drawing of two persons. One has a mess in the head the other has clear structure, conveying that people process information differently.

You can’t change another person’s way of processing information. If you have a perfectionist as a manager and they behave as a mismatch, that’s the way it is. If their thoughts are a bowl of spaghetti inside their head and yours are well structured, you still can’t go on changing them. You can only ease your situation by understanding. When you understand, there’s no need to get frustrated. Also, in the case of customers, deeply understanding them is essential. It already helps to identify different ways of behaving. 

Mismatch thinker –Master of the next step

Drawing of six shoeprints. This image represents a person mastering the next steps of the mismatch thinker process.

A mismatch is a master of the next step. This sentence has helped me not to get irritated. When we have made it two steps forward, they don’t necessarily give thanks like a matching person. They think one should be one more step ahead. They do give thanks; one just needs to know to listen to it among the things that need to be fixed. 

Drawing of a person cheering and a sun. Text: “Hear the part in which they tank you”

Hear the part in which they thank you! If it’s important to you, take it in, because they mean it. Then comes the next step – take the missing part as it is. 

Drawing of a person cheering and a sun. Text: “Hear the part in which they tank you”

Behind every behaviour is a good intention

Behind every behavior is a good intention. This is a dogma from NLP coaching, which I studied a lot some time ago. The idea is that the person pointing out the black cloud also wants to get rid of the black cloud. They have a good intention behind the fact that they point it out. You both have a good intention, and you’re both heading towards the sun. When you understand that every behavior is based on a good intention, it’s a relieving thought.  

If you yourself are a perfectionist or a mismatch, remember it can lower other people’s energy levels. It’s also a problem if people retreat into their foxholes and think that a person will never change. That’s a conundrum of a situation. A good way to get out of it is to understand the benefit of both parties’ thought processes.   

When we create a strategy, it’s very important also to see the risks and prepare for them, even if they come in the shape of a perfectionist manager. 

However, the most important thing is to focus on the Purpose – the sun– how we help our customers. What is it that customers want from us? If we didn’t exist, what would they cry for? It’s our purpose that excites all parties. 

Ignite your strategy by understanding mismatch behavior! Read more.🔥 

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

1.14 Administration report: Horizons

Stradigo

Administration report: Horizons – Helicopter view 🚁 — 1.14

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The CEO of a company often needs to give presentations to the board. How does the CEO explain the big policies? It is a good idea to talk about horizons. Horizons are something that can be discussed with the board, management group and the whole staff. It’s a helicopter view into the business.

Business horizons

Two persons running and three consecutive arrows making three separate leaps. These arrows represent business horizons.

The principal idea is very simple: We look at what kind of jumps we make in our business. We call them horizons. Then we’re able to see the current situation and the past situation. The future is foggy, but it’s possible to set clear goals into the future. The future can also be created. Goals can be bundled into horizons. 

The thing that makes this truly interesting, is that we rarely rise to a helicopter level in our everyday lives. We don’t see the big waves, instead we see clutter. When the horizons are crystallized, you see the thing that can help to make better decisions.  

Two persons running and three consecutive arrows making three separate leaps. These arrows represent business horizons.

First, the work begins by looking back. The result is a PowerPoint slide, in which the business horizons and big goals are listed. Last year’s horizon with its 10 most important points are included. Five points might suffice, but oftentimes the list becomes too long. Choose only the most important points.

3 business horizons with goals under each. Each leap represents a single year.

The next step is to list all the things the company wishes to achieve during this year. Perhaps some plans for the upcoming year can also be written down. Suddenly you have a map about all the big business jumps.  

This is your horizon! All the big choices and goals are listed. It’s pretty easy to write a long list, however, it takes some effort to compress the core issues to a tighter package. 

Yearly themes

3 business horizons with goals under each. Each leap represents a single year. Each year has a specific theme.

The next step is to give a theme for each year, and the theme is written on top of the curve. After a few years, the fruits of the labor becomes visible. 

8 year journey

A drawing of two persons sitting around a table and 8 arrows above the persons, representing business horizons for 8 years.

I have a great case that demonstrated this in practice. The case comes from a billion-dollar company, in which we have made jumps for eight years. The last time we made the eighth year leap, we started to feel that there are too many of them, that they don’t even fit into the picture. If a CEO shows a messy slide to the board, what would you think as a board member? You might think that this CEO has been in their position for a bit too long. Should the CEO be replaced? The CEO can be absolutely brilliant in their job, yet a thought like this can emerge nevertheless. 

Two-year business horizons

A drawing of two persons sitting around a table with a two-year business horizon consisting of four arrows with four themes.

This created a clear image. 

Strategy journey

A group of people cheering underneath four arrows, each arrow representing a separate theme.

Take a guess what our management team’s reaction was when this image was presented to them. This image helped everyone to understand the company’s situation. In fact, the image showed great logic, a great journey, a strategy journey.  

Sometimes I joke that the best strategies are written afterwards. When you look back, the journey seems like a straight line, even though it certainly didn’t feel like it. The management group felt that our company’s thing is actually pretty cool! 

In Finland, we have a tendency to compare ourselves with Sweden. In Sweden, people use superlatives constantly. The best superlative we, in Finland, can stereotypically think of is “Not too bad”. We should know how to hype our strategy journeys because they are truly great! 

A group of people cheering underneath four arrows, each arrow representing a separate theme. A helicopter is hovering above. Text: “Strategy journey”iew

Helicopter view

With a horizontal image the management group, the board and the staff get a helicopter view into the whole operation. It helps to visualize the ambition that is needed during the next jump. When people are presented with a crystallized form of reality, anyone is able to understand the thing.  

I have many times mentioned the five-day war of Kuwait and general Schwarzkopf’s story about the satellite perspective. If you’re down on ground level at the sand dunes and encounter the enemy, you’re able to make good decisions. However, if you rise to the satellite level, “then you know what to do” to a much better degree. This is the same thing with the horizontal image. 

A large multitude of people observing four arrows, each arrow representing a separate themes.

When the presentation has been shown to the board and they have given feedback on it, it is, of course, shown to the staff as well. The outcome is clear. Pride, excitement and sensibleness are the outcomes the organization gets to enjoy. 

Drawing of a sun, people observing and cheering, represented by four arrows, each with a unique theme. Text: “Strategy Journey”

Strategy journey becomes reality

Everyone suddenly remembers what has been done. New employees understand the kind of company they’re working at and they see the reason in making the journey that is defined in the strategy. The word spreads between friends and the employer’s brand improves. 

This is how the strategy journey becomes reality! It doesn’t only remain as a plan, but it actually translates into lived experience.  

Build your business horizons and ignite your strategy! Read more.🔥 

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.