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Heads Up and Know Where You’re Going

As I work with several companies on making major transformations to drive a new and valuable customer experience, I notice that the teams can get caught up in the weeds. They are heads down and executing on all the details that are required to make the transformation, but forget to look up and ensure the team is still driving to the results and end game.

I compete in riding horses, Dressage. While working towards to my goal of getting a gold medal one day, I train with several dressage coaches. One of the most common corrections they give me is to keep your head up and look where you are going. As riders, we get focused on looking down at our horses head, neck and shoulders trying to see if they are correct and sometimes forget to look up and just feel the right way. We should be riding our horses forward in the right direction and follow the right geometry and patterns to ensure the best performance.

I see similar patterns with teams in their day-to-day execution to the strategic plan and goals. It becomes apparent that they sometimes wait too late in the quarter to look up and realize they are too far into the quarter to make a difference in the outcome.

There are several key checkpoints in the quarter that are good for the team to evaluate two areas of execution performance:

Checkpoints: Week 3, Week 6, Week 9 and Week 12

  • How are we doing to the top goals? (Revenue, profitability, and key KPIs and metrics)

  • Progress on executing top transformational initiatives? What are the roadblocks? How do we clear them?

One of the pitfalls a team can get into is when the team is not executing and delivering on key initiatives and deliverables, they simply move the dates out and sometimes do not get to the real issues and roadblocks in order to commit to a solid date. This can impair the company’s ability to realize the transformation early enough to impact the results in the short term.

My recommendation is for the leadership team to have a regular rhythm in which they spend the time to get to the issues that are blocking the results and execution of key transformational activities and deliverables. The purpose driven meeting should result in what will be done to make changes or corrections to getter done! The team can also review options for urgent and high priority changes or new approaches that can be done quickly to impact the quarter end results. The team should have consensus or a majority consensus, authority to make decisions and a commitment to get it done by a set date. This rhythm will focus on looking up at the end game goals as well as what is in progress and altering the plan to drive both results and change. This way of life will continue to set up the company to drive innovative changes and continue to evolve their ability to drive to results with quality and excellence over time.

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