Moving from Current State to Breakthrough State
Updated: Nov 16
While most leaders know what the change is that they want to accomplish, few understand how to make those changes happen, especially when there is pressure for massive change in a relatively short period of time.
Months are wasted in large scale assessments to determine what currently needs changing. Then, strategic and change management plans are developed with sophisticated balanced scorecards, KPI’s, project plans, training programs and cascading accountability to every individual in the organization.
Yet, those time consuming & expensive efforts often don’t result in a truly changed culture that produces a meaningful difference in business results. It’s like taking an organization from current “A State” to “A+ State” – only a better version of the same state without transformation “B State” – for “breakthrough” culture and business results. There’s no new mindset or habits of behavior, which are necessary for both culture change and a new level of business results.
While new technology and lean processes can improve an organization’s effectiveness, it doesn’t prevent the leadership breakdowns brought on by ineffective decision-making, poor coordination between divisions and functions, unresolved problems or conflicts that result in crisis, or conflicting priorities that are resolved with silo thinking.
These breakdowns aren’t process-based, skill-based or even-awareness based. These breakdowns represent the “Collective Execution” of the organization – the link between groups and people to produce business results. It’s the foundation of excellence for any top performing professional athletic team. Yet, this is largely ignored in businesses throughout the world.
While some cultures are different, most organizations focus on individual achievement and autonomy – optimize your individual performance while supporting your team, your organization and your customer.
Collective Execution is not skill-based as much as it is “habit” based. It’s too bad that skill building isn’t enough. We are used to changing individual habits like eating, exercising or being more organized, but we are not prepared to change habits as a group to impact Collective Execution. I refer to these as “Team Habits,” whether it’s a functional team, cross-functional team, cross-divisional team, or even a cross-organizational team (ie. Vendor-Supplier team).
Without established and agreed upon expectations, people naturally rely on their own individual preferences, styles and functional priorities in the way the they execute – without true accountability to anyone for their approach.
Team Habits represent the effectiveness of Collective Execution.
Collective Execution represents achievement of business results and the true organization’s culture because it reflects actual behaviors. We know that the only way to change a habit, individually or collectively, is to replace the existing habit with a new habit.
Five Steps to B-STATE
This process will develop team habits to transform culture & business results at the same time:
Step 1: Clarify the External Drivers resulting in the need for Transforming Business Results and Culture
External drivers are represented by the economy, competition, new technology, new customer demands, and changing government regulation – all which you don’t control but must respond to for growing your business.
Step 2: Develop an agreed upon B STATE Picture of Success that includes:
a clear and complete description of what the business will look like in 1 to 3 years. (based on the scope and urgency of change)
expected results that will be produced by the organization in that time period.
fundamental changes in Collective Execution necessary to support achieving those expected results.
Step 3: Redefine the “Collective Role” for Senior Management, Middle Management, Line Management and Front-Line Employees
Based solely on the B STATE Picture of Success:
expand each level of leadership’s role to emphasize their Collective Accountability for business and culture transformation.
define the expectations of front-line employees on being engaged in the transformation.
Step 4: Bring natural cross-functional teams together at Senior and Middle Management levels (separately) to develop their own set of Team Habits for optimal Collective Execution
Team habits describe in detail (clear criteria and expectations for execution) how they will be functioning differently with each other in the future to prevent common breakdowns that currently take place.
Step 5: Measure
Create a baseline measure for the current effectiveness of each Team Habit.
Select the most important habits for improvement based on desired business outcomes and develop a clear plan/agreement for upgrading performance.
Measure results in three to six months, based on urgency, and adjust as necessary.
Collective Execution always precedes business results – improve Collective Execution and you will improve business results.
As Collective Execution represents the behaviors linked to culture and morale, clear and aligned expectations will optimize performance and relationships for sustainable results. It also automatically represents the highest values of any organization including trust, integrity, accountability, ethical behavior, balance, fairness, partnership, and learning.