Connecting Strategy and Execution

Connecting Strategy and Execution

I will be speaking next week at the Bank-IT Conference on the topic of "Building a Full Stack Strategy: Integrating Strategy from Business Vision to Tech Execution" so I felt that I would share some of my thinking more broadly here. While my discussion next week is focused on the Technology area, connecting strategy to execution is critical across the organization. Integrated strategy drives execution excellence.Too many organizations build their strategy in a silo. The strategy is separate from the business lines and supporting organizations required to execute. In many organizations, you'll find "Strategic Management" offices or "CEO Strategy Board" functions. These teams operate at the highest level of the organization and focus on the macro issue and strategy. They then pass their plans and white papers off to the supporting teams on the assumption that will result in the execution of those plans.(more…)...
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Your Meetings Suck – Admit It

Your Meetings Suck – Admit It

How many meetings do you go to every week where you walk out feeling frustrated that in the span of 60 minutes nothing got accomplished, nothing moved forward, and the only apparent outcome is the follow-up meeting that will be making its way to you via an email meeting invite during the next 60 minutes?How many times have you been the host of that same meeting? Admit it... your meetings probably suck.(more…)...
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Take Time to Preflect

Take Time to Preflect

At the end of every day or experience we know the power of taking time to reflect on what happened, how we behaved, what decisions we made, and how everything turned out so we can learn and grow from our experiences, but there is an equally powerful exercise that can help you start your day with a new power - preflection.Many people give me quizzical looks when I tell them that I rise regularly at 5am to start my day, partly because I am also not the first one to bed every day, but partly because they haven't discovered the power of preflection so the thought of rising an hour or more before you need to seems like a waste of sleep. I've also had more than one person tell me they couldn't do it because "they aren't a morning person". I have an easy response to that one... Neither am I!(more…)...
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The Importance of a Plan

The Importance of a Plan

I think I've always just naturally broken my professional work down into planning steps and then executed according to that plan, even if it wasn't done in a formal project plan format. Whether it was a small initiative or set of to do's that just needed some framework or a major program that needed a full detailed project plan, the need to structure the work was always just a given to me at work.Recently I've been dealing with unexpected personal challenges that have proven to be as complex as any of the projects I've been called in to save from a professional perspective. I've had several people comment on how quickly I've been able to move things forward and how little these challenges seem to have overwhelmed me when they felt that if put in a similar situation they would have found things spinning around them.I realized when I heard those comments the secret to my ability to dealing with...
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Sometimes The Unexpected Should Have Been Expected

Sometimes The Unexpected Should Have Been Expected

Many times in our career, business, or life we experience unexpected events or twists in the road that catch us off guard.  A big client pulls their business at a critical time, we find ourselves displaced from our job due to restructuring or cost savings, or we have a personal event that shakes the foundation of our comfortable lives.  Most of the time when these events happen we shake our heads and wonder at the incredible surprise and chalk it up to "one of those things you just can't predict".The reality though is though that in many of those cases the road signs have been there all along warning us of the coming event, but we've been ignoring them either hoping they would be wrong or believing through our confirmation bias that things were actually going to turn the corner and the inevitable wouldn't happen. If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning...
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New Year Goal Setting

New Year Goal Setting

While I don't necessarily subscribe to the concept of New Years resolutions, I do believe that the New Year provides us with a good annual marker to check in on how we are doing against our personal roadmap and validate that our goals are still relevant and aligned to where we want to go.It's an exercise that actually should be done more frequently (quarterly for example), but as we get into the year and the business of life takes hold again I recognize that many of us forget to check back in with our goals as regularly as we should. Maybe that should be goal #1 on all of our lists this year.So what should our annual goal setting and check in session look like?First, if you have done this exercise before you should pull out the previous version of your personal plan and spend some time reviewing it. Reflect on your 5, 10, and 20 year targets to validate...
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Are You Running in Circles?

Are You Running in Circles?

Over the past few weeks I've been involved in a number of situations where urgent requests have been made of people and teams, and they have diligently run off at pace to deliver an appropriate response only to discover (days and weeks later) that their interpretation of the request wasn't correct, or worse yet to come back together as a team to discover that big pieces of the request have been missed completely.Time and effort were lost because:People failed to clarify the request and ensure that everyone (requestor and requestee) were on the same page in terms of what needed to be delivered; and Teams failed to review the request, identify the deliverables clearly, and assign clear ownership and timelines to each piece of the puzzle to ensure that things got done.A colleague likened it to a firework - a senior executive makes a high level request and expresses urgency but may not provide the level of clarity the team needs...
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The Importance of Book Ends

The Importance of Book Ends

Take a look at your book shelf.  You might have a nice built-in bookcase, an IKEA Billy case, or perhaps an open shelf on the wall, but any of them will do.  Now imagine that your book shelf didn't have any sides or book ends... how easy do you think it would be to keep your library of business and professional development books upright and organized on your shelf?  So if the book ends are so critical to maintaining order and keeping your books contained why do so many of us not recognize the same importance of book ends in our own lives?Think about a typical day in your life.  If you're like most people I know it goes something like this:06:00 Wake up 06:15 Eat breakfast 06:30 Shower and dress 07:00 Get kids dressed and ready for school 07:15 Walk the dog 07:30 Take the kids to school 08:00 Arrive at work (with coffee) 08:15 Start processing Inbox 08:30 Start of meeting schedule 10:15 Check in on your Inbox 10:30 More meetings 12:30 Grab a soup...
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Where Are You Going?

Where Are You Going?

There's an old saying that failing to plan is planning to fail.  It holds true as much today as it ever has, but I've been thinking about it a bit lately and the more I think about it the more I think there is something missing from this sage advice.  Planning is critical... as long as you know where you're going.Consider two people who are planning a trip.  The first has clear goals in mind - to visit New York City and while there to take in some key sights including the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, and a musical on broadway.  The second isn't quite sure where they are going, but they're determined to go somewhere for a four day getaway.Now if they both just set to planning I am certain that their outcomes will be significantly different.The first person will carefully plan their excursions, buy tickets to the musical of their choice before arriving, ensure they are booked on...
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Modifying Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions

Modifying Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions

In his book The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, Peter Drucker offers a tool for self-assessment and transformation in his "Five Most Important Questions You Can Ask".  The questions are designed to drive action and create focus on doing the right things to drive exceptional performance within your organization, only when I read them they fall short of delivering on what matters most.  So in the interest of challenging one of the greatest management thinkers of our time (and someone who I have great respect for) I will offer my own version of the Five Most Important Questions You Can Ask.As a starting point it's a good idea to provide some context by providing the five questions that Drucker proposed and a little bit of background as to why and with what I disagree.  Druckers questions are as follows:What is our Mission? Who is our Customer? What does the Customer Value? What are our Results? What is our Plan?When...
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