I recently moved house. Firstly, I put this forward as a very reasonable and justifiable excuse for not keeping to my normal "rhythm" of sending this Management Thinking blog. I have been too busy! But, as most of you know, that's not an excuse. In fact that is a reason to focus even more on the important things that are core to my role. Uppercut accepted and delivered.
However, I have been thinking about moving house. A lot. Especially that move that will be faced by all of you at some stage - the dreaded "downsize." I can now talk on this momentous and stressful event with experience, linked to the deep thinking that is expected of me, as it is of you. My English grammar may have been affected by this experience as well, but I think that last sentence makes sense so I won't go back and work on it!
I digress. My purpose here is to describe why moving house, especially downsizing which is probably best described as moving house on steroids, is like Executing Strategy:
It's a process not an event. You don't finish moving house when the moving truck drops your stuff off. In fact you may never complete the process, as the significant decrease in wall space (downsizing remember) allows you to rotate and renew your pictures, photos and family memorabilia, at very regular intervals. In fact too regular. But that's another story ...
The BHAG appears challenging at the outset, but when you begin the process you quickly realise there is a hint of impossibility about it. The result? Go back to point 1 - you may never complete the process and hence, not achieve your BHAG, or only partially achieve it
Emergent Strategy is the King! We were great on Intended Strategy. We planned and crafted our strategy well. But when we began executing we were continually bombarded with emergent artillery. Sh*t happened regularly and in ever increasing volumes. But we dealt with it (most of the time!) The result - our Realised Strategy was significantly different to our Intended Strategy. Henry Mintzberg in action
20 miles every day. No excuses. No matter the weather. No matter the challenges. No matter anything! This is all about discipline of course. It comes from one of Jim Collins' most recent books and describes the experiences of someone who set off to walk across the USA, coast to coast. He knew he had to average 20 miles a day in order to complete the walk in the time planned. He felt great on the first day and walked 30. Terrible the second day and walked 5. The third day he felt guilty and walked 25 to catch up. And you guessed it, on the fourth day the weather was diabolical so he stayed in his tent. He finally got the idea - 20 miles a day, every day, no matter what! Just like moving house!
Manage your, and your team's, expectations. Our house was to be ready in February. We moved in at the end of August. Many dramas ensued as a result. Expectations affect everything and everyone. And Emergent Strategy is your saviour
Prioritise. Every day. Religiously. "What is the most important thing I need to do today in order to make progress towards my goal?" This is the key to execution - making it real by making progress every day. We had some issues from time to time with this one. Maybe it was more than "from time to time...."
When you make progress towards a worthwhile goal, finding the motivation to make even more progress is easy. Effective Execution is like a drug. When you start it, you are likely to not want to stop. Sometimes at the expense of some operational priorities. But as long as you have someone to point those other operational priorities out (I did!) you can make significant progress
There are more, but these are the stand outs. So when you plan your downsizing move, take head. Its not easy! But if you keep your head up, smell some roses from time to time, you, like all of us, will get there. Just best to not think about it yet!
Stay well, be focused and Execute