Tag Archives: focus

Case Study: Cracking the Execution Code at Compusearch Software Systems


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.

In Compusearch’s case, the company had set out to transform how federal government agencies procure and contract for goods and services.

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 increasing margins to realize a 4X return on invested capital within five years.

Highly innovative companies often suffer from a lack of focus on operating fundamentals, which becomes an impediment to growing to the next stage of maturity. Carlyle saw evidence that Compusearch could benefit from a renewed and refreshed approach to turning its vision into action.

Carlyle and Compusearch engaged IntelliVen to assess the company’s operational maturity, develop a plan to implement strategy, and generate more effective performance to drive growth.

The Challenges

Like many visionary companies, Compusearch had become a decisive market leader with a strategy of continuous innovation and breaking new ground with its solution offerings.

By 2005, the company had reached $15 million per year in revenue. Its procurement and purchasing solutions were operating in nine cabinet-level departments and related agencies across the United States federal government.

It had achieved this leadership position by continually updating and innovating its solutions as software design and the underlying system capabilities evolved over two decades.

The company’s newest solution was web-based software to support government contract officers who procure, contract, and requisition the spending, granting, and moving of public funds in compliance with mandated government rules, transparency, efficiency, and control.

IntelliVen guided the company’s top team through its structured process to get aligned, on track, and then grow. Alignment came from the clarity reached by the team jointly making explicit what they each saw, and what they were each thinking, so they could then work together to come up with a consolidated view of where things were and what they needed to do.

1. Great vision but not enough focus on operational execution

Compusearch had reached a leadership position in its industry by pursuing a vision with continuous innovation. But oftentimes this approach can cause a company to become distracted. It ends up chasing the new technology and functionality without tuning its operations and processes to generate the most value from the innovations it has already brought to market. There were many more opportunities for the company to extend and expand the value it provided to current customers with its existing solutions at existing customers.

2. Lack of coordinated direction and team alignment

The executive team in Compusearch was made up of highly experienced managers who knew the market and their functional domains of responsibility. But there was no consistent melding of vision and strategy coordinated across functional teams, to ensure everyone was always rowing in the same direction. As a result, the company found itself often in reaction mode, not effectively promoting its current offerings to customers to generate more business. Key items fell between organizational units, resulting in unmet client needs, as well as confounded employees. In some cases, initiatives were confined to a particular unit, such as the development team, without the full benefit of coordination with other groups such as those providing customer services.

3. No clear process for strategy operationalization

Like many companies, the corporate vision for revolutionizing federal government contracting was well understood by top executives. But exactly how that vision translated into individual goals, commitments, and resource allocation was not all that clear. Each executive had to decide for themselves how best to support overall corporate goals.

4. Inconsistent and ineffective use of metrics for tracking and accountability

Compusearch executives collected and studied metrics that were relevant to their own functional domains. But they were not as effective at combining and assessing these metrics in terms of the story they told for overall corporate performance and strategy implementation. A sales leader would announce a customer win that generated widespread acclaim in the company. But it was rare for anyone to ask whether the price was aligned with the firm’s strategy or if the licensing terms would generate the most value over the long term.

The Solutions: Aligning Compusearch for Execution

IntelliVen Founder and Managing Partner, Peter DiGiammarino, worked with the new Compusearch CEO, Reid Jackson, to explore how a new, fresh approach to strategy execution and operating practices could be implemented across the company.

Together they implemented four initiatives using IntelliVen tools, workstreams, and tutorials for best practice operations.

1.    Effective focus on strategy implementation: the W-W-W and Initiative-to-Action

Peter introduced the W-W-W model – the exercise in which senior managers gain great clarity on

  • WHAT they are selling.
  • WHO is buying it.
  • WHY they buy it.

By working together to reach a common, crisp and simple understanding of the overarching purpose of the company in this way, the company core leadership team instantly become more closely aligned in terms of strategy and action. As Peter describes it, nailing down the W-W-W is the first step any organization needs to take to enable a team to, “Get clear, Align, and Grow!

Peter also provided the team with guidance to turn strategy into reality using the IntelliVen Initiative-to-Action template.

The Initiative-to-Action template helps ensure that strategic planning session outcomes are acted upon. It requires managers to connect the dots between corporate strategy, the case for change, individual goals, resource allocation, performance metrics, actions, timetable, accountability, and outcomes.

2. Core leadership team alignment: set direction, execution focus, incentives

The new model for the executive team featured cross-team communication and cross-organizational performance tracking. That way, each executive knew what was required of her/his group and, in turn, could clearly identify the needs they had for others. The resulting cross-team dependency tracking set the direction for the team and focused the executives on execution. The new accountability was enhanced by tying executive incentives to hitting cross-group targets in addition to individual performance goals to align resources.

3. Strategy operationalization: market expansion, sales execution, accountability & governance

Clarity on strategy and aligning the team in the same direction allowed the Compusearch team to then explore executing more effectively on the overall strategy.

For example, the team saw new opportunities for revenue expansion in existing customers with solution refinements, such as offering new billable services that previously had been a support expense.

Knowing who to count on for what made it possible to also introduce new responsibilities such as account and project management. Every employee could see clearly what s/he could do to step up to and help identify, develop, and deliver on every opportunity to provide more value to customers.

Lastly, the new approach to operationalization created a framework for accountability and governance. Now each executive and each member of the staff understood what was expected of them and performance against these requirements was easy to measure and track.

4. Metrics to drive and track effective operationalization

With the newfound accountability and alignment of goals and dependencies, the executive team had the ability to use key metrics to track and improve execution and operationalization.

The performance of every department – product engineering, customer support, professional services, marketing, sales – could be tracked and evaluated using metrics and benchmarks that guided team decisions and next actions.

When these metrics indicated a problem was arising in a given area, the team could readily see how each member could contribute to address the problem. The approach promoted accountability for execution and brought leadership together as a high-performance team that worked to make each other – and the company as a whole –successful.

The Outcomes: Compusearch’s organization evolution and growth

With the IntelliVen best practices guidance, Compusearch embarked on a transformation that resulted in much more effective execution and strategy operationalization.

The results were dramatic increases in top-line revenue, growing more than 200 percent in four years. Other impacts included:

  • Driving the EBITDA-margin plus growth-rate to over 50.
  • Increasing recurring revenue to more than half of total revenue.
  • Shifting from selling one product in a narrow market to selling multiple products into multiple markets while at the same time maximizing revenue from existing customers.

Compusearch had achieved a much more advanced stage of organization maturity. After four years of growth, the company sold for a ~4X multiple of invested capital. The company was eventually renamed Unison and, over the past ten years has successfully executed its business and financial plans, completed a handful of accretive acquisitions with more on the horizon, and is on track to exceed $150 million in annual revenue. All-and-all a great win-win-win-win-win: for the company, its customers, employees, investors, and the community in which it operates.


Fifteen years from the beginning of the case, the company was acquired for the fourth time … again by The Carlyle Group, the very same team that acquired it the first time!


MtL is for organization, unit, and function leaders and their teams who seek breakthrough improvement in performance and growth.

Volunteer to Improve the World … and Yourself

Act Intentionally...Persist Variously
Act Intentionally…Persist Variously

While putting full attention on accomplishing one thing increases the odds that the thing will be done well, it is all too easy for the career minded professional to end up doing nothing other than their work!

They would be wise to realize that top performers at all levels make time for other things such as family, recreation, exercise, spiritual development, and even volunteer work.

Participating in volunteer work can add a healthy perspective to life and position for growth which makes it all the more rewarding to find a way to pitch-in. Continue reading Volunteer to Improve the World … and Yourself

How to set up and run an Executive Incentive Compensation Program.

Each year, a well-run organization’s leadership completes a planning and budgeting process. Achievement of the resulting annual business plan is dependent on each organizational unit meeting or exceeding its established goals as part of that plan. This requires that individual leaders take ownership of their part of the plan.

The objective of the Executive Incentive Compensation Program (EICP) is to allow executives who meet or exceed annual performance goals, both financial and non-financial, to participate in the organization’s overall success. The more a given individual or group is responsible for the organization’s success, the greater their share of participation in the rewards.  Participation in the program is an important career milestone.


Executives with significant scope and scale of responsibility for achieving an identifiable portion of the organization’s financial plan and who are, and who are expected to continue to be, employees in good standing are eligible to participate in the program. All staff proposed for inclusion are reviewed and approved by the Core Leadership Group.

Participation is not required. To indicate their desire to participate, each eligible executive submits to the Core Leadership Group, via their manager, a draft of his/her performance goals. The draft is reviewed and edited iteratively with the participant as necessary in order to arrive at agreed-upon, approved, signed, and filed performance goals.

Key staff who join the organization after a quarter of the performance period is completed may participate in the program on a pro-rated basis with the approval of the Core Leadership Group, and with an approved performance plan completed within 21 days of their start.


At the end of the year, participants review and evaluate their performance relative to the plan. Participants who have met both financial and non-financial goals receive their target award. If not quite all goals are met (e.g. 80 – 95 % attainment) then a portion, (e.g., 50%), of the target Incentive Compensation (IC) is awarded. In cases of truly extraordinary performance against financial goals, there may also be the possibility for additional awards to be earned.


Executive Incentive Compensation awards are paid within two months of closing the organization’s fiscal accounts for the performance period.

Guidance on setting performance goals

The organization’s financial plan includes an operating budget that allocates resources to implement the plan. This planning and budgeting process is simultaneously both top-down and bottom-up so that by the end of the process, each part of the plan is clearly the responsibility of a specific individual or group. To complete the process, upon final approval by the firm’s leaders and board, individual and group financial and non-financial responsibilities are explicitly recorded as Executive Performance Goals.

At the end of the performance period, each participant determines whether they have earned all or part of their target incentive compensation award based on how actual performance compares to financial and non-financial targets that were approved at the beginning of the period and recommend a corresponding reward.  Recommendations are then reviewed and approved by their manager and the Core Leadership Group.

The following provides guidance on how performance goals are set and how the program is managed.


It is important to keep in mind the objectives of the Executive Incentive Compensation Program. When in doubt about how to handle a specific situation, refer back to these objectives. In evaluating a participant’s performance, The Core Leadership group will judge any specific situation in light of these objectives:

  • Provide Clear Direction: Performance goals are to provide clear communication about what an executive or group is expected to accomplish.  Difficulty in setting goals generally reflects indecision or lack of clarity on the part of the executive and his or her unit leader. It is their responsibility to drive the process until clarity and specificity are achieved.
  • Provide a Means of Measuring Accomplishments: Clear goals, both financial and non-financial, ensure a way of measuring whether an individual, or a group, has accomplished what it set out to do.  For the program to serve this objective, goals must be defined so that their achievement is measurable.
  • Provide a Means for Rewarding Accomplishments: If key people meet their goals, the organization as a whole will meet its overall goals and can, therefore, afford to provide additional compensation in the form of individual bonuses. The objective is to reward individuals for accomplishments that contribute to the success of the organization.

The ideal outcome is for everyone in the program to meet his or her own goals and receive the full target amount. While a 100% success rate is unlikely, there is no ceiling or quota on the number of participants who can receive bonus awards by meeting their goals.

The success of a unit influences judgment as to the success of the individuals within that unit. Specifically, for example, it is unlikely that a large percentage of key individuals in a group will be judged to have met their goals if the group as a whole falls far short of its performance targets.

Development of Performance Goals

Annual Performance Goals are effective at the start of the fiscal year. Therefore, Performance Goals for program participants should be in development well in advance of budget approval and considered in effect as of the first day of the fiscal year even though they cannot be finalized until the planning process is completed with the annual budget approved by the board (which will generally occur at a board meeting one or two-months into the fiscal year).

Responsibility for Setting Goals

It is the responsibility of each organization unit leader to see that all key staff in their group have written, signed, and approved performance goals. Some unit leaders may prefer to have their key staff initially draft their own goals, while others may draft the initial goals for their participants themselves. Either method is acceptable, provided that each participant and his or her manager ultimately reach agreement on the written statement of the goals and that those goals are approved by the Core Leadership Group.

While managers have final responsibility for setting goals, each person in the program also has responsibility to be sure that he or she has, understands, agrees with, and is committed to achieving written goals for the year. Participants in this program are the senior staff and are expected to take the initiative to be sure that they have clear goals. A program participant who does not have, does not understand, or does not agree with their goals should take the matter up with their manager or directly with any member of the Core Leadership Group. Likewise, it is vital that every program participant do their part to make sure that key employees in their area have, understand, and agree with what they are signed up to do.

Bonus awards will not be approved for anyone who does not have written, signed, dated, and approved Performance Goals.

Setting Goals that are Measurable

To achieve their purpose, goals (both financial and non-financial) must be measurable. This means they must refer to specific accomplishments, even if judgment is required to determine whether something was accomplished. Quantitative measures, such as revenue, gross margin, project profitability, bookings, growth in backlog, or numbers of hires that have worked out well, retention rates, etc. are especially useful.

In order to make goals measurable:

  • Use quantitative measures where possible.
  • Keep goals brief and concise, with at most a few items cited.
  • When a goal cannot be directly quantified, specify the kinds of data that can be used instead (e.g. delivery dates, client reactions, or deliverable).

It is critical that both financial and non-financial goals be outcome-oriented. The specific purpose of this part of the compensation program is to measure accomplishments that drive organization performance and growth, not personal growth or hard work for its own sake.

Aggressive but achievable: Both financial and non-financial goals should be aggressive but achievable in light of the individual’s or group’s capabilities, training, and experience and the business circumstances that exist at the time goals are set. Superhuman feats are not expected (although they are certainly welcome!).

External factors partially or completely beyond the person’s or group’s control can result in not meeting goals that were realistic at the time they were set. While it is desirable to set goals that are as controllable as possible, it is impossible to eliminate external factors and external factors do not overwhelm a shortfall in performance to justify an award.

Financial Goals: Client Managers, Project Managers, and Market Leaders have goals that are closely linked to contributing to profits.  Managers of indirect activities, such as product development, recruiting, and marketing, have goals tied to producing target results within budget and on time.

Non-Financial Goals: Three to five specific goals to implement key initiatives either within that person’s unit or on an organization-wide basis. Typically, non-financial goals address areas such as recruiting, personnel development, product development, process development, business development, knowledge management, and solution offering development, and specify what an individual or group must do specifically (e.g. hiring four top-notch college graduates, develop two clients with revenue potential greater than $2M per year, develop a delivery strategy for a specific high-stakes prospective client).

Corporate Responsibilities: Certain performance items are a condition of participation in the Executive Incentive Compensation Program without any associated financial incentives. These items include timely and accurate expense reporting, invoicing, time-sheet, and earned revenue submissions; maintaining a current resume and project descriptions; establishment of written professional development plans for self and key unit personnel; on-time submission of plans, budgets, and projections; timely completion of performance assessments, help with proposal preparation and project reviews; and timely submission of salary and promotion recommendations. Sub-optimal performance along any of these lines is grounds for reduced payment of financial incentives or removal from the program altogether.

Handling Changes: Sometimes circumstances during the year change to make some or all of a person’s goals no longer appropriate. This is normal and is not a valid reason for not setting and measuring goals, or for reducing essential management flexibility. The guidelines for handling changes are:

  • Anticipate and plan ahead for changes whenever possible.
  • Address goals as soon as major changes occur. If a major change in assignments occurs, the area leader responsible for the new assignment sets new goals and asks for an evaluation of the performance against goals up to that point. Just as when goals are set initially, the person whose assignment is changing also has the responsibility to see that this matter is handled properly.  The Core Leadership Group finally approves evaluation against goals being closed-out and goals going forward.
  • When major changes occur, it is acceptable to sub-divide goals and awards into separate pieces related to each major segment of work under the guidance of the Core Leadership Group which will help determine how best to do so.

Approval of Performance Goals: All performance goals must be reviewed and approved by the Unit Leader and the Core Leadership Group.

Relationship of Goals and Incentive Compensation

Achievement of individual goals is the basis on which individual bonus awards are made for key employees. Achievement of substantially all goals, financial and non-financial, for a year results in the award of the full target amount of the person’s individual bonus, which may be factored by the total bonus pool available.  Achieving a major part of, but not all (say, 85%), goals is considered a “near miss” and may result in an award of half the targeted amount, and a failure to achieve a major part of the goals results in no award.

In some cases, it is possible to define achievements in excess of the base goal that are deemed extraordinary performance and may result in an award above the targeted amount. Upside performance levels are set only after base target levels are set and must be financially based.

Continued employment is a condition of award.

Upside Performance Tiers:

  • Always work out target performance levels before working on upside scenarios. Once the thinking about upside performance starts it is hard to ever get back to base target if it is not already worked out.
  • The downside threshold for half an award (.5 * Award at Target) varies but is never lower than 80% and usually 85-90%.  Uninitiated participants may think that if half a goal is achieved then half an award is due. Such thinking must be headed off from the start by making clear that only a near miss qualifies for a fractional award.
  • The upside tier varies considerably based on the stage and scale of the unit. An early-stage, small unit might need to hit 150% to hit the 1.5 X tier and a mature, large unit might need only 115% because it is harder to achieve larger percentages at greater scale and under different market circumstances.
  • The upside financial metric of performance must be NET of the incremental IC such that upside awards are funded by the results that cause them to be paid.
  • Performance tiers are treated as steps and not slopes. That is, a participant needs to accomplish a full tier’s worth of results before earning the next level of award in order to drive performance and avoid complacency, say, halfway through a performance tier.
  • Govern the amount paid to a group of people for the same accomplishment so as not to pay out in total more than the organization earns. A governor on group IC upside as a % of the total contribution increment such that the principle is properly applied, as an example, might be as follows, (where ∆ means “change in”; e.g., ∆IC = change in Incentive Compensation):
    • ∆IC/(∆Contribution + ∆IC) ) <= some reasonable % say 3% (which amounts to essentially a commission rate (or slope of the line) applied to a step function) for each participant; and where
    • ∑for all participants (∆IC/(∆Contribution + ∆IC) ) <= some reasonable % of the (∆Contribution + ∆IC); say 13%, to ensure that the organization itself sufficiently benefits from the achievement.

Sample Executive Incentive Compensation Participant Goals.

How to make sure every top team member does one thing right.

CEOs should consider the following when assigning tasks to leadership team members:

  • Members of the leadership team are likely to be the most capable people in the organization and therefore among the most important to deploy optimally.
  • Each needs to be especially clear about what is most important for them to do and then spend the lion-share of their time doing it.
  • If something is important to do, then someone important ought to be in charge of getting it done.
  • Each member of the top team ought to be in charge of something important.
  • It is not possible to be personally responsible for more than one or two important things at a time.

The idea is to ensure that at least what well-deployed leaders focus on goes well and to model how things should be done for the rest of the organization. Think of it this way: leadership team members don’t have to get everything right, but they each have to get something right.

The Problem

Most people, including even most top leaders, instinctively choose to spend their time doing many more than one or two things, possibly because in their minds:

  • Doing many things increases the odds that something will go well.
  • Having too many things to do gives a great excuse for not being successful at any particular thing.
  • The need to think hard about how to spend time is replaced by the much easier rule to spend time based on demands of the next email, text, tweet, phone call, conversation, knock on the door, etc.
  • Having so many things vying for attention makes a leader feel powerful and busy, often to the point of having a “Hero complex”.

On the other hand, having many things to do means the most important people do not meet their goals because:

  • Each task gets too little time, attention, and effort.
  • Each leader works hard, but gets little done, gets tired, loses confidence, and feels ineffective yet has an inflated sense of self importance.

The CEO’s job is to make clear what is most important for each leadership team member to do and to arrange for them to do it, and little-to-nothing else, even though it may cause leadership team members to feel a greater risk of failure.

The Solution

To solve the problem, the CEO should:

  • Work with each leader to rank their assignments in priority order.
  • Ask if the odds of success on the most important task would go up if the leadership team member were to spend more time on it.  The answer will likely be “Yes”.
  • Tell the leader to spend all their time on their top priority task until the odds of success would not get any better with any more time on it.

Most leaders will shudder at the thought of having so little to do as they realize it is now incumbent on them to be successful at just one important task. It occurs quickly that they might not be successful.  When they ask: “What if I fail?” the CEO should express so much confidence that the leader will succeed that s/he will absolve her/him of such risk and promise to assign yet another important task should she/he fail at this one.

The CEO should add that if the leader puts everything into completing an assigned task, but fails on six different tasks in sequencethen, and only then, maybe it will be time to discuss whether there is good fit with the organization.

The intent is to put the fear of failure far into the future to free the the leader to concentrate on the task they have been asked to do and not on the downside consequences of failure. The fear of failure thus moves from the leader to the CEO who is then highly motivated to provide assistance, resources, governance, and incentives to maximize the odds of success.

Related Points

  • When a matter comes up for discussion, ask if it is important.  If it is, then ask who is in charge of making sure it goes well.  If no one comes to mind then assign someone or second guess its importance.
  • When speaking with someone on the leadership team, ask what important thing they are responsible for completing.  If nothing comes to mind then it is fair to wonder why they are on the leadership team.
  • If something is not important then no one should even be thinking about it.
  • The points presented in this post align well with Steven Covey’s parable about Big Rocks. and the first three principles of his 7 Habits for Effective People: end in mind, first things first, and be proactive.

Role Clarity

The CEO of a successful organization ensures that their inner circle of leaders, or Core Leadership Team, are individually and collectively clear about their relative strengths and on what the group counts on from each of them to be successful.

The exercise below is a structured and straightforward way to make expectations explicit and to open channels of communication between them enabling them to provide each other  advice, guidance, feedback and support in a way that is efficient, edifying, and empowering to all involved.


Ask executive team members to read the following IntelliVen posts in preparation for this exercise:

Before a break at an off-site, or in a meeting just for this, allot up to three hours for the exercise described below.

Set up

Ask each executive to print their name at the top of a sheet of newsprint laying on a table or hanging on the wall.

  • Under their name have them write the heading: Good at:
  • 1/3 from the top write: What we count on from you:
  • 1/2 way from the top write: Best Advice:

Data collection

Data Collection Sample
Example sheet for one of five executives who used the process described.

Ask each executive to move to the sheet to their right and fill in each of the three sections for the person whose name appears at the top. When everyone has finished writing, repeat the previous step for the next person to the right until each is standing back at the page with their name on it. Add additional newsprint if more space to write is needed.


Step 1: Good At

Once everyone has recorded thier entries for all of the others, ask everyone to read carefully what is written under their name in the Good At section and then ask them to get ready to answer the following questions:

  • What clarifying questions do you have?
  • Do you agree that you are good at the things noted?
  • Are there other things you are good at that are missing?
  • Are there things you are surprised to see listed?

Have each person in-turn to read outloud what is written for them followed by their answers to the four questions above. Discuss what is said with the group until clarity is achieved and then move on to the next person.

Step 2: Count On

Once each executive has had a turn procesing the first section, ask them all to read carefully to themselves what is written under their name in the Count On section and then ask them to get ready to respond to the following:

  • Would you like to ask any clarifying questions?
  • Do you agree that listed items are your responsibility?
  • Is anything you are responsible for missing?
  • Do any of your items conflict with each other or with what is listed for others?
  • Are things listed consistent with what you are good at such that you can be successful doing them and such that your organization is getting highest-and-best use from you and your talents?

Ask each executive in turn to read outloud what is written for them and address the five questions above. Facilitate discussion until clarity is achieved and then move on to the next person until everyone has had a turn.

Step 3: Best Advice

Finally, ask them to read carefully to themselves what is written under Best Advice. Ask one executive to select one Best Advice item and invite her/him to:

  • Ask for clarification or explanation about what is meant by what is written.
  • Work hard to draw out what others have to say.
  • Not to be defensive in any way.
  • Repeat back what they hear to be sure they understand.

Iterate with the group until they are all clear, and until the group knows they are clear about what is being said and until all agree it is time to move on to the next point.

Repeat the process with the first Best Advice items for the next executive. When everyone has processed their first Best Advice item, start again with a second item and repeat until all items have been covered for each executive.

Step 4: Summary

Ask the group to discuss:

  • What they noticed during this exercise?
  • What they individually, and as a group, learned about their roles and the roles of others.
  • What was learned about how much they have to share with each other and how to do so?

Ask if a similar exercise should be done from time to time with their group and perhaps with other groups in which they work.


If the group is feeling good from the exercise and there is energy for one more question, consider asking each executive to write down and then talk through what they feel is important for them to get better at in order to live up to the team’s expectations.


A fundamental human need is to be known and understood by others. Steps 1 and 2  help each group member to feel known and understood by their teammates which creates the opportunity for a rich flow of information between them.

Step 3 builds on, and takes advantage of, the comfort established in Steps 1 and 2. The result is a deep sense of closeness and connectedness which allows each member of the group to share openly with the others and to be aggressively interested in what others have to say to them. Group members are thus able and inclined to help each other fulfill their potential individually and collectively in the press of day-to-day activity and not just at an offsite.

The exercise can and should be repeated from time to time to keep leaders synchronized and aligned.  The best leaders will follow suit with similar exercises with their own teams. The odds of success with this exercise are dramatically improved when it is facilitated by a trained Organization Development professional.