August 2005

The Coaches Corner

This Issue’s Question

A Business Unit VP asks:  "We are in the midst of a strategic planning process.  I anticipate obtaining approval from our executive committee.  Past strategies have been approved yet failed to win the hearts and minds of our senior executives.  During execution, the growth ventures were starved for investment and key people resulting in only incremental growth.  What can I do?”

Our Advice

Winning over the hearts and minds of top executives is a matter of:

  1. Linking strategy to their aspirations for the business.
  2. Surfacing the inconsistencies which top executives have amongst themselves.

We have found that a series of one-on-one dialogues between each top executive and members of the strategy team makes a difference.

Executive Dialogues - Round 1

With each executive, discuss their aspirations and their concerns for the future. 

Executive Dialogues – Round 2

Inform each executive of the findings from the 1st dialogue.  Present your findings as the specific consistencies and inconsistencies among executives.  When the consistencies and inconsistencies are made visible, individual perspectives start to shift.

It is the unvoiced inconsistencies that become game-stoppers. 

It is constructive to categorize the inconsistencies. 

  • Inconsistencies in “what’s seen as possible”
  • Inconsistencies in the time horizon, for the future
  • Inconsistencies arising from unanswered questions
  • Dilemmas -  aspects of the future that conflict with one another.

So, in Round 2 you report back to each executive this organized set of perspectives.

Making the consistencies and inconsistencies visible starts to alter the dynamics in which executives relate to your strategy.

Once the inconsistencies are surfaced there will be numerous ways to move forward.

Linking Strategy to Aspirations

Knowing the aspirations of the executives, you message your strategy to be consistent with the intent and language used by the executives.  This is common sense market research and communication. 

Yet, very often people tasked with a strategic initiative fail to ask the obvious.  In neglecting to ask, you loose out in several ways:

  • Building an informal and working relationship with key executives
  • Showing your personal interest in their views
  • Discovering the more subtle dynamics that spell success or failure for your effort.

Good Fortune to You!

©2005 Innovate LLC (all rights reserved)

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