Management Consulting and Training Since 1993
BPM Consulting & Training
menu MENU

True North?

A recent article from HBR asserts the #1 reason digital transformations fail is “unspoken disagreement among top managers about goals.” This failure point is not new and not limited to digital.

My colleague, Ralph Smith, used to ask professional development students to close their eyes and point north. The students opened their eyes to find few people pointing in the same direction…and not many actually pointing north. HBR is correct that it is hard to be successful in a critical business initiative (digital or otherwise) if your top managers have different visions of the destination.

But it’s not just the overall destination that managers must agree on. They must also have a common understanding of what it takes to get there. On Orion’s strategic planning page, there is a great video about an insurance company whose executive team had a different understanding of the company vision than the CEO. When everyone understands what success looks like then defining the correct investments in technology, process redesign or workforce development becomes much easier.

That is why Orion works with clients to specifically define their parameters of success when it comes to achieving the vision. For instance, a county government had a vision of becoming the best place to live in their state. Here is a series of success parameters that explain that vision:

Notice that some parameters (e.g. population) are beyond the government’s control. However, it is necessary to consider environmental factors as well at tangible goals (#1 in schools, low unemployment). That way, leaders can make informed decisions about the best actions to achieve the desired future state.

In other words, start by getting everyone pointed in the same direction.

Paul King

Share This