Category Archives: Do & Review

Take action. Review what happens.

Four Kinds of Help

When it is time to start planning  but the top team is maxed-out just keeping up with operations, outside help may be just the thing. But what kind of help is best to get?

Keep in mind that there are four types of help. Here is a guide you can use to decide which is right for you and your team.

About consultants…what is the difference between them?

Kinds of Outside Help

1. Strategy Consultants

  • WHAT THE LEADER WANTS: Strategy consultants compare organization performance with others in similar and different industries to recommend what is possible in light of advances in technology and trends.
  • THE REALITY: The challenge is for leaders to internalize and adopt new ideas as their own, especially in light of what it will take to implement them. Strategy consultants are known for good ideas and not for helping clients follow their advice.

Continue reading Four Kinds of Help

Better Risk Data: Regulatory Mandate and Strategic Opportunity

Ray's coverBackground

It is well known that firms with inadequate systems for managing risk are liable to suffer serious breakdowns that interrupt operations and cost the companies dearly in terms of fines, remediation efforts, and damage to their reputations. But firms’ risk management systems are only as good as the data fed into them. What of firms that pay attention to the wrong metrics, employ error-prone data-collection practices, or rely on otherwise misleading data to manage their risks?

Approach

Better Risk Data: Regulatory Mandate and Strategic Opportunity, an article written by Promontory Financial Group’s Ray Strecker, Yoko Otani, and Stacy Coleman,  focuses on U.S. and global banking regulators’ increasing expectation that financial firms bolster their risk management by improving how they collect, manage, and assess data. But these best data practices for the financial sector are broadly applicable to firms, in every industry, that need to negotiate complex risks. This article demonstrates that firms should incorporate forward-looking, data-driven risk assessments into their routines of doing business.

Bank regulators like the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, Federal Reserve Board, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have suggested that financial firms need to improve how they aggregate and report risk data. Many of these banks are attempting to meet the regulators’ requirements by building a series of one-off processes and systems. That approach can lead to a patchwork of partial capabilities that may leave firms farther adrift from the goal of having the authoritative, consistent information they need.

This article explains why financial and other institutions should aim for a comprehensive approach to managing risk information. Well-designed systems for gathering and assessing risk data will satisfy and surpass regulatory requirements. Continue reading Better Risk Data: Regulatory Mandate and Strategic Opportunity

How to Run a Great Annual Leadership Team Offsite Meeting.

Most leaders find it difficult to adequately prepare— assuming they even know how — to facilitate a high-powered, executive offsite. The truth is that it is nearly impossible for a leader to facilitate and participate in, let alone also lead, their own offsite. A better strategy is to hire experts who use proven approaches, tools, and methods to prepare and facilitate a great annual leadership team offsite meeting.

The ten tips and resource links below will help the thoughtful leader to get out in-front of the planning process and make clear to the board, top team, and employees that the organization is in good hands and well-led.

Gant ChartPlan the Plan

  • Inform the board and the management team that it is time to work on plans for the coming year.
  • The management team can be as small as three to five members or as many as 15 to 20.
  • If there are more than seven, pick three to five to serve as an executive committee.
  • Prepare a time-line of steps, outputs, and review points.
  • Assign a process leader who will manage planning as a project.
  • Schedule offsite session and line up facilities and facilitation support.

  See details on leadership team strategy and planning sessions. 

Continue reading How to Run a Great Annual Leadership Team Offsite Meeting.

Level Titles

It is a good practice to separate level titles from job functions. This independence allows general criteria to be applied as it makes sense to a given the job function and in a way that transcends job functions so that we can assign someone to a new role without having to rethink the level-title.

The criteria below are generally applicable and have been developed and proven useful over decades of application. Note that the level descriptions stay clear of definitions tied to functions performed and number of people managed in favor of how a person performs and the outputs produced.

Level-1: Demonstrates a high degree of proficiency in some area of great importance to the business. Has applied the proficiency with a high degree of independence and over a sustained period (generally two to three years) and is a recognized expert in the area. Continue reading Level Titles

How to reduce risks on important projects.

Background on Managing Risk on Important Projects

Reduce Risk on Important ProjectsIn the context of any strategic initiative involving a significant evolution in systems, process, or organization, risk is the chance that the effort will be less than a complete success … that it will be late, over budget, perform unacceptably when completed, fail to realize the expected business benefits, or even never be completed.

There are so many factors that can contribute to a less-than-successful project.  How is a project manager to decide which to focus on and how to address them?

Approach

Milt Hess, in his paper Reducing Risk on Projects, presents a strategy for deciding which risk factors deserve attention and for integrating risk reduction into the project holistically instead of treating it as a separate activity.  This strategy turns the traditional approach to risk management on its head.  Instead of thinking about all the things that can wrong, it focuses on what has to go right.

The strategy requires that a project first establish a clear definition of success – its success targets.  The paper describes concrete steps that the project can take to increase the likelihood of meeting the targets and the questions that senior management and sponsors should ask to ensure that the project stays on track.

Here are a few of the key elements of the approach:

  • Periodically develop a forecast of the expected outcomes for the success targets. If the forecast for a target is ‘I don’t know’, the project is at risk.  Include resources in the project plan to reduce uncertainty about the outcome.
  • Dependency on external events and agents introduces risk. Explicitly identify dependencies during the planning process, document assumptions, and monitor them regularly.  Include resources in the project plan to reduce uncertainty about the dependencies.

Continue reading How to reduce risks on important projects.