Compusearch (now Unison) was a visionary company with visionary goals. But, as often happens with visionary companies, focus on a long-term strategy to revolutionize a market can mean that near-term execution and operationalization can suffer, creating barriers to growth.
From its founding in 1983, the company used state-of-the-art software design and development to provide solutions that streamlined and automated key steps in government procurement, purchasing, and contract management.
In 2005, the company arrived at a strategic decision point. The company’s team of owner-operators decided to sell the company and retire. The new owner, private equity firm The Carlyle Group (Carlyle), saw immense potential in the company and its pedigree of quality innovation.
But Carlyle also saw that the change in ownership was an ideal time to assess how the organization operated and to upgrade to more effective strategy execution and operations maturity. Maturing operations turned out to be essential to achieving the goal to double revenue and increase margins to realize a 4X return on invested capital within five years.
If you are frustrated by an organization resistant to embracing a change you believe is right, consider using the following steps as a road map to seeing your ideas through to reality:
Get Clear. Write-up and share your point of view. While what you have in mind may seem clear to you, it likely is not yet to others. Writing about what you want to happen forces you to work out the logical progression of thought and to fill in the details to tell the whole story in a way others can understand. Share what you write with others to test for clarity and to ask for help to make it even clearer.
Focus on value. Emphasize the business value your change would generate in terms others, especially those in positions of authority, can understand and appreciate.
Set the context for change. Use the change framework to explain how what you have in mind to change exists today, why it needs to change, how it will be in the future, what must be done to get from here to there, and what will be difficult about effecting the change.
Thesis: In the face of the same data, two rational people will make the same decision.
Implication: When two people disagree on something it is likely that there is something one knows that the other does not.
Strategy: When two people disagree, each should strive to reveal what is relevant that s/he knows and that the other does not until both know everything that the other knows.
Conclusion: Agreement should be reached if both are rational; that is, neither is acting based on self-interest, emotion, fear, etc.
Implication: When you reach an impasse with someone on an important matter, reflect on what is important that you know that the other party might not know and offer to share it. Similarly, ask the other party what s/he knows that is important that you may not know. Continue reading How rational actors can reach agreement.→
Leaders whose direct reports submit regular (e.g., monthly) status reports on progress, problems, and plans should consider re-working their approach to include more frequent (e.g., bi-weekly), one-on-one, real-time meetings to discuss progress and to collaborate and align on how things are going, priorities, and next steps.
Specifically, top leaders ask each direct report to prepare andsubmit a day or so ahead of meeting one-on-one:
An update on progress since last time including a read-out of measures previously agreed upon to track progress.
A list of the top three or so things s/he is working on, and for each:
What s/he seeks to accomplish
What has been done so far to accomplish it
What has happened as a result of what has been done so far