Helping leaders to accelerate & sustain performance
We help ambitious leaders in large organizations to accelerate & sustain performance in 3 ways:
Our clients call on us for help with these issues:
Aligning people, priorities, and resources is one of the most significant opportunities and challenges for any large organization. We help leaders reap an ‘alignment dividend’ of up to 25% within their business units, initiatives and teams.
Alignment is complex, and people generally want to pull together. But many factors make it difficult in practical terms.
As in the visual above,* KPIs and Priorities for different roles and functions often don’t align. Importantly, people may only have limited awareness of each other’s roles and responsibilities. The demand for increased cross-functional collaboration accentuate this challenge.
*This visual is just one data view from a stakeholder analysis data set. Alignment is also analyzed within and between teams, as well as between leaders and teams.
Business units or teams with 75%+ alignment are rare. Yet, even such above-average teams can be up to 25% misaligned, where:
- One in 4 people (25%) could be pulling in a different direction
- Up to 25% of management time & attention could be misdirected
- Up to 25% of resources may be underutilized or even wasted
- Responding decisively to opportunities & threats could take 25% longer.
Thus, greater alignment could boost efficiency and engagement by up to 25%. That is what we call ‘the alignment dividend’. But, left unaddressed, it could represent a drag on performance up to 25%.
The question is: ‘What could alignment be costing your organization, initiative or team?’
Q: How clear are your people on the Top 3-5 business priorities & results at this time?
Leaders are often surprised, even frustrated, by the answer to this question. That is because data puts clarity regarding priorities and results (i.e. alignment) at a disappointing 63% for most units and teams.
Of course, there is a second question:
Q.2: What percentage of your time are you spending on your key priorities? As this question reveals, the alignment challenge is as much about calendars as it is about strategy or people.
Alignment is like an octopus – it has many tentacles. Here are some of the ways poor alignment shows up within a large organization:
- Key strategic priorities are not reflected in how people spend their time or the organization spends its resources
- There is a long list of priorities, perhaps too long
- There are multiple projects & initiatives competing for scarce resources
- Everything is urgent. It is hard to say ‘no’ and trade-offs are few
- Business needs and priorities are changing or need to change
- People are pulling in different directions. There are silos and solo-runs
- Confidence in execution is under pressure
- People have little time to focus on what matters most
- There is noise and interference (e.g. politics)
- There are questions about the level of commitment and accountability. People say one thing and do something else. More bottom-up involvement is required to ensure ownership and buy-in.
It starts by measuring the level of alignment and the factors that are linked to it.
Next, we help leadership teams improve alignment by clarifying priorities, results and purpose through powerful yet speedy senior executive workshops called pitstops.
Alignment now: The focus is primarily on the requirements of success in the short to medium term. For example, aligning on purpose focuses on a meaningful ‘fit for purpose’ that can energize and engage the team for the road ahead (rather than the vision of some distant future). It is not that the longer term vision isn’t important, it is just that focusing on a vision of success for the short to medium term so often gets overlooked.
The combination of clarifying priorities, results, and purpose is a ‘triple lock on alignment’.
The present environment of slowing growth and increased uncertainty puts pressure on alignment, with business needs and priorities having changed significantly.
Scarce resources require leaders to do more with less. Consolidation and cuts are the order of the day.
All this requires a more dynamic and disciplined approach to prioritization.
More dynamic in that it seeks to ensure alignment of people, resources and priorities not withstanding the annual budgeting or multi-year strategy cycle.
More disciplined in that it seeks to focus with greater intensity on those key priorities and initiatives that are most important to success.
In a fast-moving and uncertain business environment, alignment requires ongoing adjustment. We have one of the fastest and most time-efficient means of dynamically measuring & optimizing alignment.
Productivity and efficiency are the order of the day. Yet, a key source of sustained productivity and efficiency gains is being overlooked. Optimizing Ways of Working is the fastest route to productivity & efficiency gains of 5% to 15%.
Everybody is talking about Ways of Working, but few leaders have a clear definition of what it means, much less a way of measuring, modelling or optimizing it.
Our industry-leading analytics illuminates ways of working and ways of interacting on a team by team basis, revealing the opportunities for optimization and quantifying the potential impact.
Optimizing Ways of Working can deliver efficiencies of 5% to 15%. Moreover, it has the potential to significantly boost speed, agility, collaboration and innovation. Importantly, executives benefit too, with reduced frustration, increased motivation and improved well-being. It can also boost speed and aglity, as well as collaboration and innovation.
Few executives working in large organizations would say they are operating at 100%, 90% or even 80% productivity or effectiveness. Indeed, the average is 67%. So, why isn’t it higher? Well, it is not a matter of engagement, commitment or ability.
Many of the factors that drain executive productivity concern the daily realities of working in a large organization, including the time spent on internal meetings, emails and IMs, navigating internal processes and procedures, juggling competing projects and priorities, managing internal stakeholders, and so on.
Instead of getting caught up in the issues of engagement and remote working, organizations need to empower their leaders and teams to address the practical realities of working in a large organization. They need to enable teams to optimize the ‘Way We Work’.
The productivity gains that result typically range from 5 to 25%, but equally important are the gains in collaboration, engagement and well-being.
Growing economic uncertainty and constraints on resources, have put pressure on productivity & efficiency. The result is a new focus on Ways of Working. But, what in particular is motiving leaders to attend to ways of working within their own organization or team? Well here are the top reasons:
A lot of people talk about Ways of Working, but what does it actually mean? For example:
- What is a real world operational definition of ways of working?
- How do you measure it for a team?
- What does good or bad look like when it comes to WOW for your team?
- What are the step to follow in optimizing WOW and where is the best place to start ?
- What are the benefits and how are they measured?
Pitstop transforms Ways of Working from a vague concept to practical reality. It is the only operational definition of ways of working and methodology that:
- Measures and quantifies Ways of Working – Teams use our analytics to:
- put numbers on the efficiency and effectiveness of their ways of working
- illuminate opportunities to optimize ways of working, as well as obstacles and barriers
- set goals for improvement and track progress in achieving them.
- Visualize and model ways of working – Our analytics:
- Provide people with a frame of reference with respect to what does good and bad look like
- Brings it to life and makes it real, revealing the many factors involved,
- Enabling people to see the impact of their ways of working as well as the potential for improvement and the impact it can have.
Pitstop engages and energizes teams around ‘the way we work’. That is essential for two reasons – only those who are closest to the work can effectively optimize it and for it to succeed they must be the primary benefits of any improvements made.
There is a de facto efficiency drive underway within most organizations as executives are expected to ‘do more with less’. While there is an immediate short term uplift from cuts and consolidation, the longer term benefits are less certain.
Meanwhile, a key source of sustained productivity and efficiency gains is being overlooked. Ways of Working can deliver efficiencies of 5% to 15%. This is particularly important given the shifts in hybrid working, performance paranoia and quiet quitting.
The traditional levers of performance are coming up short when it comes to optimizing productivity in the executive suite. Take for example productivity tracking and traditional performance improvement programs. The challenge is that these are founded in an out of date set of assumptions regarding the workforce, the work to be done, the workplace and they way we work.
Take productivity tracking software for example. Why settle for tracking somebody’s productivity? asks one of our coaching partners. ‘Surely, what you want to do is boost it!! The problem is that productivity tracking something you do to somebody, optimizing ways of working is something you do with somebody, indeed with a team. However, while one just gives you data, the other gives you results!’
The level of energy and engagement of the organization’s leaders is a vital resource. But it can get depleted overtime. We help leaders, to access more of their passion, energy & drive, despite the pressure they are under. That is not just for the benefit of the organization, but leaders themselves too.
Quiet quitting continues to steal the headlines with much talk of ‘an engagement crisis’. Such ‘performance paranoia‘ is compounded by the present economic uncertainty as well as hybrid and remote working.
However, our data pre- and post-pandemic tells a consistent story – most executives are operating between 60% and 70% of their full performance potential.
In other words, between 30% and 40% of the average executive’s full talent, creativity and passion remains untapped. Suddenly, the issue of engagement is put into its wider context. It is a much bigger opportunity as well as challenge – one that redefines modern leadership.
Performance potential is one of the four big numbers that relate to the sustainability of performance as well as the health of an executive team. The other big numbers are pressure, vitality (a measure of well-being or thriving) and the effectiveness of collaboration. All of these variables are interconnected – when one number changes the others change too.
We measure all of these big numbers for senior executive teams, as well as the host of factors that impact on them (called performance losses and gains).
Then we support executives and teams in progressively moving the numbers in their favor. This is for the benefit not just of the organization, but for the team and its members. The twin goals are better work and better life.
People are one of your organization’s greatest assets, also one of its greatest costs. But as ‘the engagement crisis’ suggests unlocking people’s full talent and potential isn’t easy. Most people are routinely operating at between 60% and 70% of their full potential. Progressively moving these and the related numbers (vitality, collaboration, etc.) shown in the diagram is our mission.
Although these factors may have traditionally been considered ‘soft’, they are inextricably linked to performance. Indeed, the data suggests that these factors (sometimes called organizational health) can account for as much as 50% of business performance*.
* See for example the research presented in “Beyond Performance 2.0: A Proven Approach to Leading Large-Scale Change” by Scott Keller, Bill Schaninger, Wiley 2019.
Below is a list of some of the tell-tale signs that your team may need to be re-energized. Notice any of these within your team?
- Levels of overwork and the risk of burnout
- Concerns about the wellbeing of people
- Concerns about levels of engagement, ownership or buy-in
- People may have lost sight of the purpose / why
- Everything is urgent. People don’t have time to think.
- The social health of the team is under pressure.
- People are not bringing out the best in each other. The team environment is not as supportive as it should be.
- More effective collaboration is required. There are too many silos and solo-runs
- There may be too much or too little excitement or adrenaline
- Sluggishness & lack of momentum
- Levels of creativity & innovation are not what they should be.
- There has been a lot of change or more is needed.
It starts by measuring the level of engagement and those factors linked to the performance potential of the team (i.e. the big numbers).
Next, we help leadership teams to boost energy and engagement through powerful and yet speedy workshops, called pitstops. The objective is to empower teams to tackle those factors (performance losses) that are holding them back.
Pitstops (the workshop format we use) typically generate 3 times the level of energy and engagement as traditional away-days, project reviews or leadership development initiatives. Just like a track-side pitstop they exemplify teamwork, collaboration and innovation.
As one of our coaching colleagues puts it: ‘The ‘pitstop approach’ is a powerful way of reducing the number of ‘IF ONLY’ moments within a team. That is those moments when your team feels disempowered and not in control – when it is looking for others to fix its problems or giving its power away.’
A team’s big numbers (shaped by its ways of working and interacting) are largely within the control of a team. That affords executives a level of power greater than they might imagine over the twin goals of better work and better life.
Sample our research below:
Helping ambitious leaders to accelerate & sustain performance.