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“What” Vs. “How”

Most companies are notoriously good at creating wonderful strategic plans each year. They’ll spend a couple of days hashing through numerous aspects of their core strategy, etc. and end with a great plan for the next year. Then, half-way through the next year they discover not much is moving forward. Metrics haven’t been met (or measured along the way)…or better yet, metrics have been met but turnover is through the roof! What’s at play in these situations? Why doesn’t a great plan “work” back at the office?

The answer is that organizational leaders can spend an overwhelming amount of time on the “what’s”…the goals, the strategies, the action plans, the metrics…but they don’t ever have a conversation that asks the number one question that should be asked within every planning session: Do we also have a cultural strategy to achieve the goals we say we want to achieve? In other words, they have the “what.” The missing link is the “how.”

Not long ago I heard Liz Wiseman’s presentation on Multipliers and Diminishers. Her key premise is that leadership can multiply productivity or diminish it (to a great degree in either direction). As a course of conversation, I began asking different company leaders who heard her presentation about their thoughts on her key points…and overwhelming, the spontaneous response I got was: What if the Diminisher is the CEO? The second most common statement made went right along with the first one: What if the Diminisher is the head of my division?

The goal with increasing productivity is not ‘happy’ employees. (That’s a whole line of dialogue we don’t have time for in this blog.) The goal of increasing productivity is, however, to create an environment where every employee should be engaged. To that end, we can measure the what’s in our corporate strategy (goals, objectives, action plans, etc.), as we should. But don’t ever underestimate the value of also measuring the how’s (which aligns with your corporate culture). You might be able to dream it, but if you can’t implement it then your dream may well be lackluster at best.

So…when was the last time you measured your impact on the people within your organization? When was the last time you measured the health of your corporate culture?

Keep the conversation going…

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