Patty Azzarello

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk).

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Hazards of Business Execution, Part 4 of 4

This is the final segment of a four-part series!

I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives.

There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.

Previously I talked about the first 3 steps in the MOVE model
M = The Middle
O = Organization
V = Valor

Today I want to talk about the fourth and final step in the MOVE model: E= Everyone

Although you can lead a transformation from the top, you can’t DO a transformation from the top. Successful transformation requires that everyone participates. If they don’t move forward, you don’t move forward.

Telling does not equal communicating

You need to be ready to consider this first telling of your strategy to your organization as pretty much a throwaway effort. Yes, it’s a step in the process. Yes, you need to communicate top down. But to genuinely communicate, and to get your message internalized, and for your transformation to take hold, you need to create a fundamental shift in the way that you think about communication. You need to change your existing idea of communication to instead become conversation — that involves everyone.

Your broadcast has almost nothing to do with whether or not something has been communicated. Simply telling people your strategy does not mean they heard it.

You should not assume that just because you have told everyone your strategy (for the first time!), that they were listening carefully, internalized it, know what they need to do personally to act on it, know how to optimize it with regard to their current work, and will actively do the right things to implement their piece of it.

And in fact, it’s kind of funny, when an executive realizes that people “aren’t getting it”, typically I find there is an inverse relationship between the level of emphasis an executive will use to say, “but I was very clear” and how much has actually been internalized by their audience!

Conversation vs. communication

The right measure is never about how clearly you think you have communicated. The only right measure is about how much your audience has internalized.

You have communicated successfully when the people in your organization are talking about it amongst themselves.

For your transformation to work, the change must be part of the social fabric of the whole organization in a very real way — and that happens through conversation.

For example, when you can approach an employee at any level at random and ask, what is the most important thing for us to be doing right now, and why? — and get the same answer most of the time — then you can say that your communication has been successful.

Conversation creates forward momentum, and safety

People will only feel safe to keep doing the new thing if they hear their peers are still talking about it. If the conversation stops people will start asking, “Are we still doing this?’ and your strategy will stall.

Decorate the change
To give people confidence to keep going they need to see signs of the new strategy every single day. Through your conversations and physical modifications to the workplace you can “decorate the change” to make the new way a tangible part of the social fabric of the organization.

Listen and Share
Too many organizations treat communicating as an afterthought, and this is deadly to a successful transformation. It’s important to do not only top down conversations, but foster and environment of sharing information across groups (by making information sharing part of performance objectives!)

Power and Trust
As leaders we have a choice to share power or hoard power. If you share power you build trust, and trust is rocket fuel for keeping motivation and momentum in a transformation. And with trust there is no neutral. You are either building trust, or destroying it. You must invest in building trust through building conversation.

My new book MOVE is about decisively executing strategy

Get your copy of MOVE to help you truly engage people on a personal level, build trust, and increase confidence to move your strategy forward. Learn how to change communication into the kind of conversation that fuels forward momentum, and how to decorate the change so the path forward is an obvious part of the environment every single day.

###

You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:

Download a FREE Preview of MOVE

In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.

Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

###

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Hazards of Business Execution, Part 3 of 4

This is part three of a four-part series!

I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives.

There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.

Previously I talked about the first 2 steps in the MOVE model:
M = The Middle
O = Organization

Today I want to talk about the third step in the MOVE model, V= Valor:

Everyone is scared

If you are human, you will be scared sometimes. If you are leader you will be attacked and challenged sometimes. At times your job will feel so ugly and impossible that you think you will surely fail. In my experience, the bigger the job, the harder it gets. Because as you move higher, there is less clarity of expectations, less support from your direct manager, less feedback, and higher stakes. There is also much more competition for budget, people, and charter.

That brings us to the section on V=Valor. Because leadership is hard. That’s why you need Valor to progress through the long Middle.

Welcome to being a leader

I can remember feeling at various points in my career, that the mission just didn’t make sense, or that it was unsupported. I felt like I was out on a limb owning all of the risk, and with not enough resources to succeed. Or I felt like the corporate bureaucracy, the board, or another group or particular adversary, was blocking me (or sabotaging me) from doing the right things that I knew needed to be done. Or I would get a directive that didn’t make any sense like, “you must cut costs by 50% but you can not make any cuts to the biggest program.”

As a leader, this unreasonable, soul-crushing stuff is just part of the job description. There are always big, ugly, seemingly impossible problems, annoying people, and exhausting obstacles in the way of getting your job done. And when you are leading, by definition you are going to a place where others aren’t. You are embarking on new territory, which can be scary and lonely.

Think of Valor in this way:

Once you embrace the fact that: YOUR JOB = Your job description PLUS all the crap that gets in the way of delivering on your job description…You will feel (and BE) in a lot more in control.

I coach a lot of senior executives and with pretty much everyone we reach a point where I tell them, “You’ll be better off if you start your thinking with this:

Everything is impossible and everyone is a shark.

That’s just the way it is. And it’s your job to deal with that.” Usually that makes people feel better because they can let go of the idea that it is about them personally, and they can step back, see the problem more clearly, and treat it like any other challenge or project.

A leader needs a lot of Valor to navigate a transformation through the long Middle because people will lose faith, rebel, and there will be political attacks along the way.

Burn the ships at the beach

You need to be so unfailingly consistent in your communications and decisions that people realize the only way through is forward. As Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell… keep going”.

Too busy to scale

Most new strategic initiatives fail because the pressures of the current workload are so overwhelming that there is no time to do new things. You must find a way to rise above the current workload and priorities the strategic over the urgent. This is one of the hardest parts of leadership but has the biggest payoff if you are willing to do it.

Clarity and Conflict

The more clear you become about what it will take to stick to your strategic initiative, the more fire you will draw. It’s more comfortable to keep your goals at a generic level that everyone can agree to.

Once you start getting specific, “in order to do this new thing, will take these resources from the old thing, and delay the current plan on this other thing” people will disagree! But this is the only way to actually make progress.

If you never talk about what you will actually do in this concrete way, you will never actually do it!

Don’t trade a comfortable shallow agreement in the short time for a slow moving train wreck in the long term as you fail to implement your strategy.

Get your copy of MOVE to help you increase your confidence as leader to guide your team through the long Middle to implement your strategy decisively without hesitation, doubt and fear. You need Valor to stick to it and to help your team feel confident to keep doing the new stuff despite the many pressures to go back to the old way.

Check back next time for the final part of the MOVE model, E = Everyone.

###

You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:

Download a FREE Preview of MOVE

In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.

Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Hazards of Business Execution, Part 2 of 4

This is part two of a four-part series!

I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives.

There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.

Last time we talked about the first step in the model “The Middle.”

O = Organization

Today I want to talk about the second step in the MOVE model O=Organization

When you are facing the very beginning of a necessary transformation, you are thinking through all the new things that need to be done. There will be things that need to be started, stopped, fixed, invented, re-designed, and re-negotiated… And as you are cataloging all the new stuff in your mind you think about your team — your current team.

Do I have the team I need?

In these first moments of a transformation you are tying to do big new stuff, but still have the same, existing organization. You ask yourself, “Is this the right team?”

In your heart you secretly know that not everyone on your current team is the best choice to succeed in the new mission. But it’s really hard to make a change, and you probably still need them to keep working on the current plans. And you might also be feeling bad and insecure thinking, “I like these people. I brought these people in initially! Who am I to now tell them that they are not going to be part of the new business strategy? Maybe I’ll just move forward with my existing team and they will be able to evolve to be capable enough in the new job. Or maybe I really do need to change the team. I don’t know. This is hard!”

There is no effective antidote for the wrong team

There is no more important thing you can do as a business leader than to build the right team. Every time I hated my job, or felt like I was drowning or failing, a mentor would tell me, “Patty you need to build the right team.”

Every time I was in a new management position, I built a new management team. And every time, before I had the new team in place, I suffered. It was not that the individuals were particularly bad in some way. It was that the team as a whole was the wrong team to accomplish what the business needed to get done. As long as I had the old team, doing the new stuff proved virtually impossible. And I had to shoulder all the weight of thinking about the new stuff by myself.

If you find yourself working overly hard because there are too many things that you can’t delegate to anyone — you have the wrong team.

Your ideal, blank-sheet org chart

As a leader it is your job to build the team you need, not to make do with the team you have.

To build the right organization you need to think about what the ideal team would be to accomplish the transformation you need to execute. Then instead of trying to move around the people you already have, give yourself the opportunity to start with a blank sheet, and build the right organization chart from scratch.



Mobilizing the right team to execute

As a leader you need to always be asking yourself the following:

The right people

How can I attract and hire the right people and move the wrong people out in a respectful way?

The right conversations

How can I lead my team in a way that fosters the most productivity, motivation, and confidence?

Genuine engagement

How can make sure that enough people are truly engaged on a personal level, especially when they are spread throughout the world! How can I get people to truly care?

Get your copy of MOVE to help you build the right team and motivate them to personally care about implementing the new strategy throughout the long Middle.

And check back next time for the next part of the MOVE model, V = Valor.

###

You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:

Download a FREE Preview of MOVE

In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.

Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Hazards of Business Execution, Part 1 of 4

This is part one of a four-part series!

I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives

There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.

Stalls and retreats

We tend to accept stalls and loss of momentum as an inevitable result of short-term pressures that tempt the organization to go back to the old, comfortable way of working, instead of sticking with the new work necessary to make the longer-term transformation succeed.

Many organizations have a tendency to falter shortly after the exciting kick-off of a new strategic initiative. Think about how many times in your own career you have been told about a new strategy, and how many times the organization has actually followed through. (Not so much, right?)

Pre-programmed Skepticism

So each time we hear about a new thing, our reaction is skepticism, and the opposite of personal engagement. “I don’t need to worry about this because we never follow through on these things anyway.”

We are all so jaded when hearing about big new strategies that our natural tendency is to dismiss them. As a leader, it’s important to remember that that is the natural tendency of your whole organization!

I’ve written a book (called MOVE) about changing the game to that organizations can actually implement the big, new strategies that they are so excited about in the beginning– and so that the all people in the organization can move the new strategy forward with more confidence and less suspicion — because the actually believe in it.

Over the past 25 years helping organizations execute transformations I’ve created my MOVE model for the successful implementation of any kind of strategic initiative.

Today I want to talk about the M part of my model which stands for “The Middle”.

Have you been in this meeting?

You’re at a strategic off-site meeting to clarify your new strategy. You talk about the key, long-term things your business must invent, optimize, fix, change, or create. You use the words “game changing” and “innovative” when you talk about these ideas. You may have hired expensive consultants to create your new innovative and game changing strategy. There is tremendous investment, effort, and energy that goes into the beginning of a new strategy. Reaching the point of having defined and aligned on a new strategy seems like a huge achievement in itself – and it is.
But then . . .

Everyone goes back to work.
Everyone stays busy on what they were already working on.
The new thing falls victim to the Middle.

The dangers of the Middle

The beginning is really clear and strong, with lots of investment, excitement and great intentions. And the end is really well defined. But the problem most strategies face is that there is no real plan for the Middle – which is where everything needs to happen!

It’s not the goal setting and strategy that is the problem. It’s the doing. And the doing is hard because it takes doing for a long time. Without the element of time, there is no real transformation.

It’s easy to get an organization focused on a sprint. But in a transformation, you need to keep a whole organization moving in an often unnatural direction for a long period of time. And since human nature is not really built to naturally keep people engaged and focused over a long period of time, to succeed you need to really focus on this ambiguous expanse in the Middle and do many things on purpose to keep people on point.

Some of the biggest problems in the middle:

Too busy:
Everyone is so busy on existing work to even think about doing or even planning new stuff. I often refer to this is “being too busy being a $200M company to be a $1B company”.

What exactly should I be doing?
Companies are good at articulating end goals, but less practiced at plotting a clear and concrete course through the Middle. So people are not sure exactly what is the different stuff that needs to be done – so it’s easier to just keep working on the important, current, urgent stuff.

“Are we still doing this?”
As time goes by, attention, commitment and confidence wane. People naturally revert to the old way, because the Middle is a long time. No one is sure if this new thing is still important. Original skepticism slips back in and forward momentum stalls.

Not enough resources
If you want to do new stuff, you need to resource it. Too often companies think resource shifts will happen automatically as a result of simply talking about how important the new stuff is. (This never happens.) So, people are left thinking, well, they haven’t actually assigned resources to the new stuff, so I’ll wait until that happens.

The MOVE model let’s you take control and plot a clear course through the Middle so that everyone can see the way forward (for the whole time). You eliminate resource disconnects, increase confidence, neutralize passive aggressive attacks, and overcome political conflicts by defining the Middle in such a clear and concrete way that you ensure forward momentum.

Get your copy of MOVE to help you define the Middle in a way that ensures everyone knows what to do, and they feel confident to do so.

And check back next time for the next part of the MOVE model, 0 = Organization.

###

You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:

Download a FREE Preview of MOVE

In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.

Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.