Categories
Strategic Leadership

Case: Managers are doing poorly| 2.14

Stradigo

Case: Managers aren’t feeling well – How to react quickly?

It’s time for another blog post! As I’m writing this, I’m sitting here in the Porvoo archipelago. Today I’ll tell you about a fantastic experience with managers I had earlier this week. I was facilitating a normal monthly meeting, which included presentations about a certain company’s situation and several other small presentations. Many polls and two five-minute group work activities were also included. It is a fantastic format! Everyone loves it.

One of the poll questions was, “How are you doing at this moment?”. The results were shocking. A third of all managers commented they were doing poorly, a third felt they were doing ok, and a third felt they were doing pretty well. This was a situation that had to be addressed immediately! One can’t possibly surpass this by saying, “Time heals all wounds” or that “You’ll get over it.” This is why the whole group began to search for an answer to this problem on a quick schedule. Let me show you how this was done!

Managers don’t feel well

Together with the managers, we took part in an online meeting about the company’s business situation. The meeting, however, revealed that there was a great deal of stress and frustration among the managers. Of course, stress can’t be avoided, but this situation was different because people have been mostly isolated from one another. It’s difficult for some, while others enjoy the experience.

Conversing through a computer is a face-to-face meeting, then there are hand-to-hand meetings, which are physical. I’m totally fine with face-to-face meetings! I belong to a group that enjoys their privacy.

Quick poll for the managers

Something had to be done. Together with the CEO, we were wondering how to react. We realized once again that digital technology is our friend and that we need to create a quick poll about the background issues.

We asked a few questions about the teams’ situations: “What is the situation, and what is the core reason for this? What can be done about it?”

No.1: It’s about the workload

The answers were surprising in a way because the pandemic wasn’t number one. After all, it came in third. The issue was more about the workload. It may be that the situation has escalated as the manager has had to manage while people are far away and not near the coffee machine anymore.

At first, when people began working remotely, many people reacted with fear of insufficiency and possible layoff. Many people probably worked overtime and too much to ensure their position. Often – before it’s learned – people sit all day in back-to-back meetings and don’t get up from their desk to move around like before in a “physical” working environment. It was clear that something needed to be done about it! A new routine must be learned. Also, many managers have taken on too much work instead of delegating work to someone else.

What to do?

We asked a question: “If this is the situation, what needs to be done in your opinion?”

All answers were categorized, and it produced nearly 20 suggestions for operations. They were divided into two groups:

1) Cases the manager can execute immediately by themselves.

2) Cases the management needs to do. 

Once this was done, we held a new 60-minute meeting, asking people to prioritize the ideas. During this digital meeting, prioritizing took place easily by asking people to vote thumbs up on the ideas most important to them.

TOP 5 actions

The result was that people identified the TOP 5 important actions! The whole meeting was over in 55 minutes. With digital communication, everyone can write simultaneously, which leads to fantastic efficiency, enough for a larger group to create a shared priority fast.

Everyone was involved, and they all got to comment. During the meeting, people also took part in three group assignments, in which everyone got to speak for a minute. The results were documented and included in prioritizing. This was terrific!

One manager concluded that a policy has to be put in place. For others, it’s important to have clear and strict directives. We structured the material together with the same manager and crystallized a four-step program. One of the steps was about the big picture. If a person is suffering and frightened, the significance of the big picture is immense. It creates hope for the future. The other steps were also easily approachable, but I won’t reveal them to you. Every step could be implemented immediately!

The Policy

The question was about communication. There is a school of thought that all problems derive from leadership: How are the actions decided between people? How to prioritize? One simply can’t do it all. Prioritizing, however, is a difficult skill. It requires a lot of courage to say that this is the most important thing, and the others will just have to wait. It’s about the workload and prioritizing the actions it produces.

A leader said: “Thank you for your insight. This is what we will do during the next month. After that, we will look at the situation again and make new conclusions”.

What a way to lead! This is agile leadership. This is the policy for one month, and then it will be looked at again to see if it’s as good in the future as well. Nothing is set in stone! The management team got this message, and this is how they will operate. After a month, we will have a new meeting to follow up on the process.

A four-day process

This whole project took four days. It was a fantastic process with a large number of participants! In four days, one is able to plan and to decide, and implementation begins immediately! WOW! The whole point is to do this together with digital technology and be brave enough to listen and make decisions.

I like the word policy. Many people need a policy before they have the guts to execute as if now they aren’t responsible. Many of us think that way, but some don’t need any policies. They just go forward and decide for themselves. We are all different, and that’s why it’s also good to create a policy.

This is how a company strategy is ignited! I’m so excited about the fact that even a large group can create something so fast! 

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Goals quarterly | 2.09

Stradigo

Quarterly Goals?

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. 

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?

yearly clock

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

quarters, people

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

quarterly strategy check-ups q1 q2

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

next 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! 

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.  

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? 

quarters, people

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! 🔥 

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Cultural Differences of Swe-Fin | 2.08

Stradigo

Cultural Differences Between Finland and Sweden

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

Differences in planning

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

Differences in decision

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

Differences in operation

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

Differences in being social

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

understanding between finland and sweden

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! 🔥

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Agile Strategy | 2.07

Stradigo

Agile Strategy

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!

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. 

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.

strategy is 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

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

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. 

focus in heads

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.  

yearly clock

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.  

quarterly strategy check-ups

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. 

quarterly strategy check-ups q1 q2

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

next 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!  🔥

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Creating A Better Meeting Structure For Companies | 2.10

Stradigo

Creating A Better Meeting Structure For Companies

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. 

new goal, cut down meetings

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!🔥

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Transferring the management system | 2.11

Stradigo

Setting up your Management System inside Microsoft Teams

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

organic spreading of teams

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

strategic usage of Teams
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

tough core - management system

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

frequent meetings

 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

management system meetings

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

communication

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? 

communication between 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

digital twin

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

no waiting

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

Customers are thankful!

customers are thankful

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.

everything in one plave, information 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! 🔥

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Help! My boss is a perfectionist! | 2.12

Stradigo

Help! My boss is a perfectionist! – A perfectionist as a manager

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

+ creates quality

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. 

- nothing is enough

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

confirm that you 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?

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

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

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

shoe prints

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. 

hear the part in which they thank 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. 

behind every behaviour is a good intention

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! 🔥 

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Case: Inspiring managerial strategy meeting | 2.13

Stradigo

Case: Inspiring managerial strategy meeting

I had an amazing experience at a managerial strategy meeting! It was new and exciting!

Different managerial strategy meeting

large meeting

This meeting was different in some way. The dynamic was different with 47 managers from different nationalities, something I’ve never experienced before. We took a risk and gave only two-minute-long presentations each. Only two minutes per presentation, can you believe it?! The meeting also included five group assignments. A three-hour meeting which included two five-minute breaks every hour, five group assignments, and almost 20 presentations! 

Quarterly strategy update

quarterly strategy update

Firstly, this was about making a quarterly update to the strategy. This company’s strategy process has become agile. A large strategy process takes place once every 3 – 5 years, during which no stone is left unturned. After that, the strategy is updated quarterly with flexibility. Goals and subgoals are updated as the situation changes. The leaders, along with their groups, prepare the goals for the next quarter. Now was the time for a quarterly check-up for the managers, in which the goals for different individuals were laid out and discussed. This was a completely different kind of meeting where issues were summarized, and it involved people on a large scale.  

Strategy update

strategy update, elevator pitch

The CEO welcomed everyone and told us about the goal of the day. A one-page strategy, the Strategy 1Pager, was in use. It had been modified with a few minor changes. It included an elevator pitch, which was the new thing. The elevator pitch means that the core idea is condensed into a couple sentences – a true high-level strategy crystallization, which effectively summarizes the strategy down to the core points. In case someone asks anyone involved about the company’s strategy, they better have an answer! The elevator pitch helps out in this situation.  

By the way, profitable growth or growth aren’t strategies, they’re strategy types. When profitable growth is wanted, the strategy answers HOW the growth is created. 

Commenting in groups

elevator pitch

At the start of the managerial strategy meeting, the CEO spoke for about 15 minutes. The great thing was that people got to comment on the presented elevator speech in groups. The group work only took five minutes. A few improving ideas were commented, but all comments were mostly very exciting and clear!  

Market situation

market situation, 2 minute presentations

The next phase included presentations from three Business Unit leaders. 

I told everyone that they had two minutes to explain what’s going on in the market. That simply hasn’t been done before! They had one slide prepared, much like the one above. As they spoke, I took notes and wrote them under the slide. I took time with my watch and let them know when they had 15 seconds left of their time. They spoke a couple of seconds over their time, but this system worked beautifully!  

The next BU leader held their speech. So did the third one. And all of a sudden, we had listened to everything we needed to know about the market situation – in just 6 minutes! These three BU leaders were very good speakers, it was a pleasure to listen to them. 

After that, everyone was allowed to speak in groups of three for five minutes. The groups consisted of different nationalities.  

Group assignment: What inspires you?

group assignment: what inspires you?

People were divided into breakout rooms to answer the question: What is exciting about the market situation? You see, one doesn’t always have to talk about the market situation as a threat. Everyone wrote their comments on a digital platform. Here were some of the comments we received: 

“There is a clear movement happening in the market! Trend is your friend! 

“The customers are there and the demand.”  

“Being one of first movers is always inspiring. Many interesting opportunities.”  

“We are right there where the growth is! That is motivating.”  

“Our offer is right and reflecting the customer’s demand of more sustainable products.”  

We received comments from each group, 15 altogether! We picked a few of them to discuss in a larger group. It’s so handy to divide people into breakout rooms and then back again, with just a touch of a button. We utilized Microsoft Teams for this. 

Quarter goals

quarter goals, 2 minutes!

The next exercise was about presenting the quarterly goals. The Business Unit leaders once again had two minutes to talk about their quarterly goals. I had an image, which depicted the strategic goals, yearly goals, the previous quarter goals. Now was the time to present the next quarter’s goals.  

After that came the next units: Marketing, HR, communications, financing, a lawyer, and several others gave their presentations. 12 presentations, two minutes at a time! Beforehand I had thought by myself what this all will amount to. The end result ended up being amazing!  

Group assignment: How does it seem?

group assignment: how does it seem?

The whole group of managers now understood the supporting functions and their goals! Very often they are left forgotten. Again, people were divided into groups and asked how everything seemed like.  

“Transparent, clear, and focused! 

“Quarterly solid goals that will be valid and important also in long term perspective! 

“Goals seem focused and ambitious. Need to ensure we are both ambitious and realistic in terms of timeline to achieve. – This comment shows, that it had power!” 

“Not easy to evaluate all the goals, but increases the understanding what the others are doing. Many things going on. – A small moment, and suddenly it created full transparency!”  

“Good to see support functions task/goals! This needs to be seen by the whole organization. Overall goals seem good and leading to success (long/short term)”  

It was, of course, a risk to give two-minute presentations, but it got a round of applauds!  

Key figures

key figures

Now it was time for the CEO to explain the numbers and volumes. Volumes had been good, but profitability needed improvement. 

where to get more power?

The next group assignment was to answer a tougher question: Where to find the big levers? A lever is my favorite metaphor. All activities are levers. There are small, medium, and large levers. Everyone got to identify the biggest things in their opinion.   

Customer orientation was a topic that stood out from the comments. The customer is always at the front of the strategy. Comments were also given about internal meetings. People wished for fewer and shorter meetings. Work should be done together, with digital technology! Business processes and automation come into the picture even more strongly. Pretty cool!  

We also discussed how it would be possible to do less. Where would time be of use? These issues were discussed once again in groups.  

New IT boss

new it boss

Next up was the IT manager’s introduction. They had together with their group begun a process, where the TOP3 key strategic questions for IT were contemplated. 

The first question was: How can IT support us to grow our business as efficiently as possible? – Answers were given on a scale according to relevancy. 

The last question got the least points: How could we get rid of overlapping systems? – Organizations have a number of systems, some of which overlap each other. 

If and when a new business acquisition is made, new systems are often included in the deal. The image above shows that cleanup got the least points, that’s fine. However, profitability requires cleanup. Here are some comments we gathered during a short five-minute group assignment: 

“Relevant topics, just continue with those targets.”    

“To have a good helicopter view of the IT ecosystem. Make sure that people use the same systems.”  

“IT works well.”   

“More coordinated view on IT-needs and priorities.”  

Wrap-up: How was the strategy meeting?

word cloud, how was the meeting?

Finally, we asked people to give pulse comments about the managerial strategy meeting. The image below speaks for itself! 

Usually, someone says that the speed was too fast. At the beginning of the meeting, I said to everyone that it is what it is. We need to get more done in less time! – Welcome to the new normal! 

I was however surprised there was no critique. The idea of a managerial strategy meeting with two-minute presentations and discussions was a hit! It was also fun that people changed groups every time. Many got to meet new colleagues they hadn’t even talked to before. 

Taking advantage of technology is the trick! Utilize it! 

If you’re interested in this topic, let’s make a similar process with your group! I claim, that this really can change a company’s culture as one sees the opportunities to work with a larger group. If you hit the nerve, the management level, with agile work policies, things will begin to happen! 

Ignite your strategy!🔥 

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Strategic goals into actions | 2.03

Stradigo

Strategic goals into actions — 2.03

I have an exciting topic for today! I’m talking about how strategic goals are put into action. A strategic goal is always a high-quality idea. How are high-quality ideas put into practice?

Strategy 1Pager. Beside the 1Pager a dart board above two running persons. A red arrow represents the gap between the board and persons.

Strategy: High-quality goals

A strategy is all about the helicopter perspective. One must have one’s head in the clouds but also really long legs – this is my motto. Once the entire strategic thinking has been crystallized onto a single strategy page, the Strategy 1Pager, the strategy must be implemented through these goals. These goals are always high-quality, but the actions themselves happen at the grassroots level. A gap very often forms in-between. How is the gap closed so that the strategy becomes concrete and implements faster? That is worth knowing. 

Concrete actions with subgoals

Once the strategic goal is broken down into subgoals, it becomes concrete much more easily. This is why subgoals are needed because they are broken down into actions. 

Strategic goal dartboard symbol above 3 smaller dartboards, that represent part-time goals (actions).

The above structure is needed to implement the strategy. It’s a very simple idea, but the work is very often left undone.  

People implementing the actions are sometimes very impatient, they want concreteness immediately. Take your time! The upper-level problem needs to be clarified first, and only then can it be broken down into subgoals and concrete actions. I always tell people that now is the time to look at the company from the CEO’s perspective. One must dare to stay on the upper level for a moment so that it becomes clear. This is how better goals and actions are created. 

The entire idea is to find more meaningful actions! 

Responsibilities

Responsibility is needed, of course. Companies are good at giving responsibility, but it can be, that the correct people to hold the responsibilities are found faster if the strategy is clearly divided into subgoals.

Large dartboard above three smaller dartboards. The boards represent goals and sub-goals.

The worst-case scenario is that the link is broken and the strategy remains as a PowerPoint slide presentation, which is looked at once a year. Transparency is the key and a practical way to followup on everyone and their work. 

Resourcing

A company always has a few crucial key persons, who are always up-front working in ever project. If this happens, no one will have the time to do anything. The strategy won’t become concrete and implement.  

Large dartboard above three smaller dartboards with people. The image represents resource allocation between goals and sub-goals.

Team members who begin implementing and planning the goals become easily overloaded with work. A map of resources needs to be made to see directly how people are distributed between projects. An individual must not be involved in too many projects, only in one or two subgoals. If someone has four projects going on simultaneously, it’s not good. Implementation is delayed! 

Roadmap

How is the strategy’s higher goals reached? First, one needs to create a road map by prioritizing subgoals: What should be done first, and what comes after that? 

Strategy roadmap represented by a sector with a dotter arrow and dart boards on top that represent goals.

Once the road map has been created with the above method, the outcome is that people begin to implement their purpose. Everyone is so happy! 

Roadmap in sprints

A sprint takes place over a week or two. When the road map and goals are implemented in sprints, the first thing is to look at the work pile: What has been achieved during the previous sprint and which tasks are chosen for the next one? 

Strategy roadmap represented by a sector with a dotter arrow and dart boards on top that represent goals.

In the image above, the blue squares represent the subgoals and the grey squares represent the tasks. When tasks are chosen only for the next week of the two that make up the full spring, people know pretty well their workload situation and how much work they are able to take on during the next week. That’s when they choose a more realistic amount of tasks to complete. Also, everyone is happier when they don’t need to be stressing about the work pile. There’s no need to carry the weight of the whole pile on one’s shoulders, it’s enough to implement the current goals! 

Sprints create time pressure! People know that after a week or two they will be asked if they finished their task. This leads to the fact that people put in the effort to finish the task on time. Instead of creating something extra fine around the task, they focus on the core task. 

When working in sprints, projects converge, focus on the core. Traditionally, the schedule has been delayed, when extra-fine things have been added during project meetings. When a project’s schedule won’t yield, people prioritize and focus on the core of the tasks. 

Strategy board

To run and lead this whole project one needs a 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.

I have noticed that bigger companies require two sorts of boards. One is for the management team, which includes the big choices and goals and how to proceed with them. After breaking down the big goals, the subgoals and the tasks are then put onto another board. When the goals and tasks are weekly followed up through the strategy boards, the strategy implements quickly! 

The strategy is implemented

Somehow the logic in this is pretty simple. The magic is in the way one puts this into action, how the structure for the required tools and meeting agendas is built. 

Drawn symbol of the Strategy 1Pager with a sector, a dotted arrow, and a sun. Five people cheer at the Strategy 1Pager.

After working a long time with strategy implementation, every project has brought new ways in how to make the work transparent more efficiently. That’s how people learn to prioritize better and success will follow. 

Ignite your strategy!🔥   

Finding Us On Social Media

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

Robust strategy implementation | 2.01

Stradigo

Robust strategy implementation – How to do it! |

Share this blog

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on telegram
Telegram
Share on email
Email

I’m so excited about today’s topic! I’m talking about strategy implementation – robust strategy implementation, that is! Together with my colleagues, we have collected experiences about good strategy implementations from many people. This is my crystallized presentation about it.

Six key factors need to be in order if and when a robust strategy implementation is desired.

Good strategy – weak implementation

Having gone through a strategy process, people are often delighted with their good results. But why is it that often the strategy won’t take off? The reason most likely is bad implementation. The strategy can be as good as ever, but it’s not enough! It is, of course, possible that the strategy indeed is weak. In any case, a good strategy needs a good implementation.

Good strategy. Two arrows from left to right. Grey arrow curving up towards a sun. A horizontal arrow points towards person.

In many organizations, people think that they must know how implementation works. Having gone through hundreds of strategy processes, I can say that a good implementation is a skill! It can be done better or less good. 

Let’s go through the elements of a robust implementation. 

Robust strategy implementation

  1. A good meeting structure is required to follow up the implementation process frequently. 
  2. Dividing goal responsibilities, resourcing, and prioritizing need to take place. 
  3. People need to be involved in goal implementation and subgoal planning. 
  4. Every goal needs to be broken down into actions and be put in a work pile, out of which a few tasks are picked for the next sprint. A sprint is a calendar time, a week, for instance. 
  5. Leadership requires good tools, most likely a new and better tool. This isn’t run on Excel nor PowerPoint because it isn’t efficient enough. This is done with better tools, and they barely cost anything! 
  6. Investment is needed for a robust implementation to happen. One must invest to win. 

If even ONE of these six points is forgotten, IT WON’T WORK. 

Let’s look at each point separately. 

1. A tuned meeting structure

Most organizations are based on a hierarchical organization in the background. It has many good qualities. Nowadays, it’s wise to compensate for its weaknesses with agile teams. Frequent meetings are needed for the implementation: Management team meetings, sub-management team meetings, etc. 

Organizational hierarchy structure with teams on top beside a bullet point list.

The meeting agenda must frequently include strategy implementation. This is how goals are easily followed up. When a plan has been completed, one proceeds to the next plan or tweaks the previous one. The idea of nothing being set in stone is fundamental. It creates agility! 

Conclusions made during a management meeting need to be shared with the whole staff. Nowadays, written notes can be automatically reported. The idea of sharing the management’s plans is shocking in many cultures. However, it hides a great opportunity for a robust implementation. If any documentation is done, it needs to be opened up to everyone else and explained verbally. With Microsoft Teams, this can be done very efficiently. 

The strategy should be looked at and updated quarterly. Of course, it doesn’t need to be renewed all the time, but when implementation proceeds, there comes a need to make changes to the plan. The market and the competition situations change all the time.  

The idea of switching from a yearly plan to a quarterly plan is very powerful! 

2. Resourcing and timing

Strategic goals often need to be broken down into subgoals because strategic goals are such high-quality goals. Subgoals require people to be in charge of them and teams to implement them. This is when prioritizing is a must. A roadmap can be created to see what needs to be done in the first phase. An ambitious deadline by which the job is done is also needed. It gives people a little kick. 

“What would the world be like without the last minute?” 

Drawing of a person beside a darts board. Includes headline: “2. resourcing and timing” and bullet points goal responsibilities.

The workload is a tough challenge. Key persons are always needed in every project while they already have their hands full. A leader that doesn’t fill the employees’ day with work is a bad leader! When new goals are created, what’s done to the old ones? Prioritizing and time liberation needs to occur so that the key persons’ workload won’t go out of hand. Balancing the workload is important, which is why the workload should be visualized to see how much work everyone has. 

If this isn’t done, nothing is ready on time! 

3. Excitement in the work

Excitement is needed! People need to be involved in the planning. At Stradigo, we talk much about the benefits of involving as many people as possible already in strategic planning.  People are capable of understanding even though they are operative in nature! In fact, my motto is: 

“Head in the clouds, but with really long legs!” 

When people can see the process from above, the helicopter perspective, they suddenly begin to understand what’s going on! That’s when motivation increases. 

Drawing of three persons in front of a sector with an indigo arrow and a sun. Involve people in planning. Create ownership and meaning.

When people are also involved in subgoal planning, it creates ownership and meaning! The energy that erupts is truly worth money! 

Give people responsibility and also power to implement; all things don’t need to be taken upstairs. The decision is made there where the information is, close to the customer interface. 

It’s also important to a leader to increase ambition, stretch goals and subgoals, and the schedule. If goals are too tough, people get demotivated. If goals are too loose, there will be no growth. It’s a delicate balance! A true talent. A leader with no ambition won’t have a successful organization. Increase ambition! Ambition is like fitness: one can always be in better shape. 

Increase ambition and speed! 

4. Goal planning

Build work piles for every goal and plan them in a week, or maximum in two weeks! Plans are created quickly, and this is where a third-party resource is often good to have. Plans will become alike, and an outsider is able to challenge them better. In result, one receives better plans and quickly! 

Drawing of a worklog as a stack of folders, two persons running, headline “4. Goal planning” and bullet points: build work piles, create goal plans…

Goals of course need to be prioritized. Agility means that work is done in weekly sprints. A clear pile of documents is a must. Tasks are picked from the pile, which are carried out during the next sprint. A sprint is never late because it’s a calendar time! After the sprint, a meeting is held, in which the tasks are followed up to see if they were executed and the next tasks are picked for the following sprint. If something wasn’t finished on time, it is put back in the pile to wait for tweaking in the next sprint.  

This is agile leadership and goal planning! 

5. Leadership tools

In order for this whole process to succeed, leadership tools are required! One must be able to see the strategy implementation visually! It requires a good tool for leadership, a digital board. We at Stradigo prefer to use Trello for this, which is free for basic use. The premium version is, of course, good to have eventually. This as well is very affordable. 

Drawing of a dashboard with red, yellow, and green dots. People looking at the dashboard and headline “5. Leadership tools” and bullet points.

Use a good tool for leadership. The idea is that it’s transparent for everyone and that everyone is able to edit the plan, the digital board, simultaneously. I’ve heard of no one editing Excel simultaneously. In that sense, Excel is more of an individual’s tool. PowerPoint is also very slow, even though the outcome is fine. Editing a digital board is so much faster. 

Here comes the magic! A fine-tuned tracking structure must be set on the digital board. The differences in quality can be big in this task! 

At Stradigo, we have for five years used a digital board and enhanced the structure constantly. The idea of visualizing the tracking structure is an extremely great thing. If one does this for a profession, the cases will teach to use the tech. I myself have worked with over a thousand digital boards with our customers, and I always learn new tricks! “The devil is in the details!” 

We visualize progress with traffic lights. We don’t make people attend courses; we learn these systems on the go. Take small steps! This is how this tool is taken into practice quickly in order for implementation. 

This tool is the backbone of implementation! 

6. Arrange financing

The last point is to arrange financing for the implementation process. Very often if an outsider is bought to facilitate a strategy, the management’s first idea is to get rid of them as fast as possible. Involve the outsider in facilitation! Change requires investment. One gets more out of it more quickly! Payback time is very short when it comes from extra income and cost-efficiency. 

Drawing of a dashboard with red, yellow, and green dots. People looking at the dashboard and headline “5. Leadership tools” and bullet points.

Implementation, therefore, needs to be prioritized in the budget. In the beginning, people might not have even understood to budget, because the budget has been made beforehand. I think the CEO should take responsibility for the big picture, and to not go spreading the money into the units. Otherwise, it creates a huge amount of small decisions and it only slows the process down immensely. In the first year, the investment is taken from the entirety. It isn’t a big sum of money comparing to the benefits. 

There were all the points! 

Summarizing drawing of six images that describe Stradigo’s six phase robust strategy implementation principles.

Take all six key points of robust strategy implementation into use! Don’t forget a single one. I’m truly excited about this, this is how the game is won!  

Ignite your strategy! 🔥 

Finding Us On Social Media

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.