Walking The Line Of Innovation And Order In A Growing Startup

innovation order growing startup

gothamCulture is a little too old to still be referring to ourselves as a startup, but even as we have evolved and scaled, the startup spirit remains embedded in the way our team approaches their work every day. We view constant and innovative change as what gives us our competitive edge and unique service offerings.

The problem rapidly growing companies like ours tend to run into is that innovative change can occur in a vacuum. You may get so lost in the task at hand that you don’t think to discuss it with outside team members, and once the task is over, you simply move on to the next, without taking a step back to objectively review it.

innovation order growing startupIf rapidly growing companies don’t share or document their successes, team members are often required to reinvent the wheel when the same obstacle arises on another project.

An effective approach to project management and documentation is critical for these organizations, but how do you sell the value of managing projects in a (somewhat) consistent manner to a group of people who view it as a hindrance to innovation or a burdensome layer of administration? How do you manage the tension between innovation and order?

Here are a few strategies I use to navigate these waters:

  1. Embrace customer collaboration over contract negotiation. For those familiar with Agile, you’ll recall this from the Agile Manifesto. As an Operations Manager, our frontline staff is my customer. Reframing my approach to process design as collaborative instead of a negotiation makes for a much better outcome and a much more positive work environment. Work with your frontline staff to understand how operational processes impact their daily lives, and inform them of the value the project management process brings to the business if properly instituted.
  2. Open brainstorming discussions to teams and departments outside of your project team or your regular “go-to” people. Every time we do this, we leave with a great idea. An issue many organizations face is that by sticking to their project teams, they develop “skillset tunnel vision”, and don’t properly leverage the resources at their disposal (i.e., you forget that the Stats guy is also an Executive Coach). Institute “Lunch and Learns” or other opportunities for staff to share lessons learned. It helps build your team and improves the way you resource your future projects.
  3. Communicate early and often! It sounds so simple, but it never is. If you’re going to do Lunch and Learns, or Book Clubs, or any opportunity to get to know and learn from your staff, don’t just do it once a quarter. The sell should be easy: it’s a chance to break from your tactical work, collaborate with others, and get yourself back into a strategic headspace.

At the core of these tips is reinforcing to staff that interaction is key, and pausing to reflect strategically is critical to sustainable growth. If you can communicate these core concepts to staff effectively, carving out time to do both should come easily.

Change Begins Where Strategy, Culture And Leadership Connect

culture and leadership change

Many organizations know when they are in need of change. Things that once worked don’t seem work any longer across the organization. Small issues in one area or function or department now seem systemic. Behaviors and attitudes about work, and with work, are changing. Austerity, ambiguity and productivity issues may be permeating.

Organizations recognize when there is a need for change, even if they don’t fully understand what needs changing or where to start in order to address these issues. Often, leaders address performance or engagement opportunities at the surface level, when in reality these may be indicators of a much deeper problem that can only be identified by addressing the organization’s strategy, culture and leadership.

In these cases, leaders must address all of these facets of the organization rather than focusing on a single issue. And while there is no universal resolution for every organization, I’ve found that addressing these performance issues effectively always begins with the following 3 steps.

Step 1: Acknowledge the Problem

So you know you need change. Check.

Then, as any good leader would do, you immediately jump to what you believe should be step 2:  solve the problem. You start attempting to change everything all at once. But, while you’re testing new changes, overwhelming your staff with new roles and responsibilities and asking a litany of perhaps unplanned, random, unconnected and overlapping questions, you may be watching your ‘systemic’ issues persist or even get worse.

You ask yourself, “Where do I go from here?”

Where you go is really a question of where you start. It’s important to realize that step 2 is not to solve the problem, because you haven’t yet addressed the cause of the problem. Step 2 is about truly assessing the problems, the situation and the current reality of what is going on in your organization.

Step 2: Assessment

Before you can begin to find effective solutions, you must first accurately and reliably assess the problem you’re trying to solve. Assessment of key variables, regardless of where you company is in size or maturity, is key. This is often a difficult concept for us ardent, type-a leaders who want to see results and see them now.

Patience, we will get you there. But first, let’s assess the situation correctly and thoroughly before we spend resources on solutions that may not be the root-cause of your issues.

There are a few consistent key areas of assessment any organization should start from when embarking on a journey of organizational change. Taking the time to accurately assess the reality of your organization’s issues will help you better identify the root cause and allow you to understand how to best prioritize your approach to the change at hand.

The key assessment areas fall within four key areas: 

The first two assessment areas help you understand the reality of your ROI (return on investment) or value:

  • Mission (direction, purpose and blueprint) “Do we know where we are going as an organization?”
  • Consistency (systems, structure & processes) “Do our systems create leverage?”

The second two assessment areas help you understand innovation and customer satisfaction:

  • Adaptability (pattern, trends, market) “Are we listening to the market / our customers?”
  • Involvement (commitment, ownership, responsibility) “Are our people aligned and engaged?”

Once the assessment in these four areas is completed, you now have an understanding of your current operating environment. Now you can begin to prioritize the problems you’ve uncovered, and how you need to address them.

Step 3: Solution Strategies

The most critical solution strategies you put in place will likely require some level of initial action in one or more of the areas of strategy, leadership, and/or culture change. These three areas encompass the triad of successful organizational change attributes.

As I mentioned before, you cannot try to solve everything all at once without overwhelming your team. In order to prioritize these three change navigation attributes, then, you want to choose one of these three as your area of focus:

  • A Strategy focus starts the change journey by first understanding your direction, purpose and blueprint and how these impact organizational success.
  • A Leadership focus starts the change journey by first understanding who you are as leaders in your organization. Consider how you show up collectively as a team and individually as an executive and how this impacts organizational success.
  • A Culture focus starts by first understanding the underlying organizational behaviors, values and assumptions that exist and how these impacts organizational success.

You should start with at least one of these change navigation attributes, but wherever you start, you will realistically tap into all three at some point on your journey to high performance and organizational improvement.

Strategy, culture and leadership all go hand in hand. Your organization will only find sustainable success at the intersection of all three.

Values with Teeth: Create More Meaningful Values Statements

create value statements with teeth

Guest article written by Levi Nieminen, Ph.D.

A number of years back, Patrick Lencioni wrote, “Make your values mean something.” His Harvard Business Review article (HBR) is a must-read for any executives toying with the idea of creating values statements in their companies, particularly those who may be doing so lightly.

For those of you who have charged past Lencioni’s warnings and, for good reason, are searching for the best ways to get it right, this brief article builds on that discussion to describe two tests that can help you to avoid creating a values set that is “bland, toothless, or just plain dishonest.”

Read More…

The Transcendence of Military Culture and Values

military culture and values

The United States Military culture, regardless of branch (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard), is attributed with values and behaviors of LDRSHIP: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Patriotism.  As I outlined in a previous article about our veterans, these are great values to epitomize and work towards in your own corporate culture.

What I have learned more recently is that employees in many organizations may think these values don’t currently reside there, or that they are far removed from the behaviors of the staff in general, may be surprised when they take a closer look. These organizations already epitomize, in their own way, these values of respect, belonging, loyalty, service and duty.

Here’s the experience that brought this realization to light:

Recently, in the same week, I visited both a client site of one New York City organization, and a US Navy client. Two very distinct and diverse organizations; city government and federal/defense.

As I was leaving the New York City client site, we all knew that the infamous “Fleet Week” was arriving here in New York, so we took a drive down to Fort Hamilton on the water to watch the USS New York arrive in all its glory.  As it passed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the management and uniformed staff of Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority made it clear that they were proud of not only this magnificent Naval Ship (forged from the steel of the twin towers of 911), but of the equally as magnificent structure that Naval ship was sailing under, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that they each manage, protect and maintain.

To quote, “A beautiful image… a naval ship on the backdrop of the Verrazano.”

Though half a century apart, both of these government assets were built with the blood, sweat and tears of Americans. Both structures represent, in their own way, cultures of pride, of strength, and service to country. The bridge keeps the economy of New York City moving and the Naval Ship keeps the citizens and infrastructure of our United States economy safe from harm.  Two distinct missions, with two similar and transcending cultural compasses, representing withstanding and honorable service to the people they serve.

Sometimes the culture you desire—that you think doesn’t exist—is already there under the surface. It just needs to be tapped into.

I encourage employees, employers, owners, executives to think about what you each define as a honorable and respected culture and then try to emulate that in your actions, decisions and behaviors within your own organization.  You may be surprised at how close your current organization is to that seemingly far off culture and values you have been seeking.

We all need perspective like this at times to see past the fog.

May we all think of the majestic naval ship sailing under our own ‘bridge’ this Memorial Day and attempt to help our teams, our departments and our organizations do more to instill the culture we all desire.

As JFK once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.

Many thanks in memory to those who have served for our freedom.

The Strategic Narrative: A Better Way To Communicate Change

strategic narrative

If you think your company’s strategy conversations should only take place at the most senior level, you could unknowingly be crippling your company’s bottom line. Research shows that companies whose members have a clear understanding of where the organization is headed and how their daily activities contribute to the success of the organization consistently outperform the competition. When communicating change within your organization, senior leaders need to relay company goals and strategy to all employees, and the most effective way to do this is through a strategic narrative. 

What Is A Strategic Narrative?

A strategic narrative centers on a leader’s ability to articulate a clear and compelling vision and strategy for the future of the organization. Christine Cavanaugh-Simmons of CCS Consulting Inc. specializes in helping leaders develop skills in this area. She describes a strategic narrative as “a written and spoken story of an imagined future captured in a ‘before,’ ‘now,’ and ‘to be’ sequence.”  Rather than presenting a series of bullet points and clip art in a PowerPoint deck, a powerful strategic narrative paints a picture of how a company’s past, present, and future fit together in a broader strategy context.

Strategic narratives are a form of storytelling, and like all good stories, they need a compelling plot, characters, a climax, and a conclusion. By telling this story, employees and other stakeholders will understand their place in the larger narrative and how they can take an active role in shaping the future of your organization.

In addition, this approach:

  • Positions the change in a respectful way. Narratives enable leaders to change the direction of the organization without disrespecting the hard work past leaders and employees have invested in it.
  • Helps leaders appear more human. Leadership storytelling through strategic narratives allows company leaders to bring their personal stories into the equation to ensure the messages hit home with others. When stakeholders can relate to you on a personal level, they will be more sympathetic and accepting toward change.
  • Creates an inclusive environment. Engaging other stakeholders in a dialogue surrounding the strategy not only helps align peoples’ efforts, but also sets the stage for an inclusive environment they can comfortably connect with.
  • Reinforces company values. By taking this approach, you will drive home the values you want to embed in the fabric of the organization moving forward.
  • Helps employees retain the information. Telling your company’s strategic narrative is more likely to inspire, motivate, and be retained than a dry PowerPoint presentation or report. And because stories engage multiple regions of the brain, stakeholders will absorb the message and see themselves in the bigger context.

Crafting An Effective Strategic Narrative

You should always consider using a strategic narrative to help communicate and engage stakeholders in any big-picture discussion. In situations when you might be asking others to uproot old habits or mentalities, this approach can ease the transition.

Inspirational and motivational strategic narratives aren’t made up on the fly — crafting a powerful narrative is an intensive process. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Invite all stakeholder perspectives. Bring your team together to discuss their assumptions and beliefs about what they’ve seen happening within the organization. By tapping them for information, you’ll gain insider knowledge you can use to refine your strategy and make it more relatable.
  2. Collaborate with your team to create a first draft. Work with your team to outline an initial draft, and seek input from other stakeholders involved in the strategy to make sure everyone’s needs and perspectives are accounted for.
  3. Refine your message. Forming a strategic narrative is about helping the group collectively make sense of the company’s current state and future possibilities. Identify the most appropriate delivery vehicle and situations for sharing the message, and complete a thorough audience analysis to understand their enduring mindsets and readiness. Most importantly, be prepared to iterate.
  4. Measure its success. Always measure and monitor progress after delivering your narrative to determine its effectiveness and refine your strategy for the future.

I’ve found strategic narratives to be an excellent way to help illustrate why extensive changes are important to us as a company.

For example, we recently had to implement sweeping changes to the way we operated to align with the current business landscape. Instead of focusing on one-way messaging, we crafted a narrative to help people understand that the old way wasn’t necessary wrong; the market was simply shifting, and we needed to stay relevant. I used examples everyone could connect with and shared the rationale for the pending changes.

While it was far from perfect, it went a long way in helping people understand the why behind the change and prompted an honest two-way dialogue about our collective success moving forward.

Facts and figures simply aren’t meaningful enough to rally employees and stakeholders around a significant change. If you open the floor and invite employees to take part in the narrative, they’ll respect your initiative and do everything in their power to make it a reality.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Our 7 Best Organizational Culture and Leadership Articles So Far

best organizational culture articles

Click this link for an updated list of our most popular organizational culture and leadership articles from 2016.

Our team of organizational culture consultants at gothamCulture love helping our clients reach their goals. But, we also know that not everyone understands where culture and leadership development fit into their current strategy.

Through our blog, we aim to educate, entertain, inform and inspire leaders like you as you begin to understand the critical importance of organizational culture in driving the performance you desire.

And over the past year, we’ve been writing a lot. Below you’ll find our 7 most popular blog posts of the year so far. We hope the articles here serve as a spark that ignites the change you need to reach your goals.

1. Time for a Change? Consider Company Culture in 2015

2015 culture change

No matter what last year means to your organization, 2015 is a brand new year, and for most companies, it means an opportunity to do things differently. You may be wondering how to reignite the flame that drove your business in the very beginning. Maybe you need that one big change that’s going to excite your team to succeed in the New Year.

Before you make any major changes to the surface of your business, like an office makeover, or a change to employee benefits, make sure it’s in the best interests of your underlying culture. Read More

2. 5 Ways to Align Your Organizational Strategy and Culture

align strategy and culture

Understanding, and more importantly, developing a high-performing culture allows you to build and achieve your strategic objectives. A well defined, established corporate culture will provide the framework for your organizational development and strategic planning. Allow this culture to guide your planning process.

Though there is no single, perfect, cookie cutter method to ensure that your culture and organizational strategy align, there are some critical pieces that should be considered. Read More

3. How Can My Company Increase Employee Engagement?

increase employee engagement

Some of the most inspiring leaders today recognize that employees are at the heart of their business. As JW Marriott said, “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself.” You’ve probably heard this before. The challenging part is getting past that theory and effectively engaging your team members in a way that drives your organization’s success. Read More

4. Redefining Business As Usual: An Introduction to Orghacking

redefine business orghacking

In recent years, the term “hacking” has grown in popularity, especially “growth hacking” within the marketing field.  Growth hacking involves using analytics to target specific consumer groups, test which messages are successful in driving viewership, and scale the most effective strategies.

This process can also be applied to implement organizational change, hence I’d like to term this alternative approach “orghacking.” Read More

5. Engaging Gen Y: Employees Are Thinking Far Beyond the Cubicle

employee engagement gen y

There’s no doubt that today’s business landscape is changing rapidly. Now is the time for organizations to consider changing their culture to support their younger team members, or risk losing them to the more forward-thinking competition.

With that in mind, below are 3 key considerations for building a company culture that engages and supports the millennial generation. Read More

6. Why Great Leaders Must Tell Better Stories

leadership storytelling

When I work inside an organization, I pay particular attention to the stories that are being told, and it doesn’t take long to pick up on things.

Each of those stories has a place, and tells a message – either of a corporate value being applied or being ignored, about the future of the organization, its past, or the leaders. Sometimes those stories serve the organization well, and other times they don’t.

Either way, stories are the DNA of culture, and they have great power to alter it. Read More

7. Budget For Culture: How Investing In Your Team Drives Results

budget for culture

As a leader, every decision you make shapes your organizational culture, and when it comes to budgeting your limited resources, these decisions send powerful messages to your people about what’s most important. After all, money doesn’t just talk — it shouts your priorities through a bullhorn. You have to make budgeting decisions that drive your business’s strategy and goals. But too often, the technical aspects of your strategy are prioritized over the most important facet of your organization’s long-term performance: the people. Read More


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Budget For Culture: How Investing In Your Team Drives Results

budget for culture

As a leader, every decision you make shapes your organizational culture, and when it comes to budgeting your limited resources, these decisions send powerful messages to your people about what’s most important. After all, money doesn’t just talk — it shouts your priorities through a bullhorn. You have to make budgeting decisions that drive your business’s strategy and goals. But too often, the technical aspects of your strategy are prioritized over the most important facet of your organization’s long-term performance: the people.

The best plan in the world won’t survive if your people aren’t on board. But if you support your employees and nurture their enthusiasm, they’ll take care of your business. In fact, investing in your people can reap rewards that ripple across your entire organization and beyond. According to Gallup, organizations with above-average levels of employee engagement reap 147% higher earnings per share. Furthermore, when they engage both customers and employees, organizations experience a 240% jump in performance-related business outcomes. Clearly, you need to start investing in culture.

The concept may still seem abstract, so here are six concrete aspects of organizational culture to focus on:

1. Recruitment, orientation, and the employee experience: A new team member’s impression of how you treat employees is set from the beginning. Even during the recruiting process, the way candidates are treated sends a clear message about your company culture. These messages about expectations and a person’s value are reinforced during the onboarding process. With this in mind, you need to be thoughtful about your employee experience throughout their tenure with you and make it as seamless and supportive as possible. This kind of investment will pay dividends down the road.

2. Professional and leadership development: It’s not uncommon for business leaders to create strategies that require a significant shift in employee behavior to succeed. However, if you’re asking employees to do things differently, you need to anticipate their apprehension.

By setting aside resources to train your employees in the knowledge, skills, and abilities they’ll need to implement your plan, they’ll see that you’re serious about your changes and are willing to support them through the transition.

3. Compensation and incentives: Compensation is a massive and complex topic in business — one that can’t be underestimated. As a professional services firm, the lion’s share of my company’s budget goes into compensation. Our team members are expected to dedicate a lot of time and energy to the success of our clients, and they’re paid as well as possible because we value and trust in their abilities.

People’s total compensation (not just their base salary) will drive all sorts of behaviors, but your plan must be designed thoughtfully. If it’s not, you may find yourself in a no-win situation with employees behaving in ways that maximize their personal gain but don’t move your organization forward.

4. Rewards and recognition: Like compensation, rewards and recognition require resources, but they also send clear messages to your people about what behaviors are acceptable and encouraged and which are not.

Finding creative ways to recognize people who are creating value in your business is worth its weight in gold. Rewards and recognition aren’t one-size-fits-all strategies, though. Different people value different things, so you must take the time to get to know your team members and develop an understanding of what incentives will be the most appreciated.

5. The physical environment: The space in which people work can promote desired behaviors, but it can also be used to reinforce what’s most important to you in less direct ways. Put careful thought into the design of your office space. If your strategy dictates significant changes in how people do their jobs, you may need to make extra room in the budget to align their workspaces with your expectations.

6. Tools and equipment: When you’re budgeting to drive your strategy, a final key consideration is whether your people have the proper tools and equipment to fulfill your expectations. Outfitting your team with the wrong equipment will lead to disaster. You can’t ask your team to get to the moon with a roll of duct tape and a spatula; it will only hold your team back from accomplishing your overarching goals.

If you fail to think more holistically about the “what” and the “how,” your perfect business strategy will be left on the launch pad, unable to take off. Don’t let all that planning go to waste by ignoring the needs of the people who make your strategy effective. Investing in ways that communicate how much you value team members will drive the behaviors you need to reach your goals this year.

this article originally appeared on Forbes

5 Ways to Align Your Organizational Strategy and Culture

align strategy and culture

2015: A new year. A fresh start. The perfect time to review this past year, set new goals, and determine where you want your company to head this year. It’s time to take control of what this New Year will bring by aligning your company culture and organizational strategy.

I have previously explored how your business has its own culture, which infiltrates every aspect from leadership decision-making down to daily processes. And, when partnered with strategy, this culture propels businesses to high performance.

Understanding, and more importantly, developing that culture allows you to build and achieve your strategic objectives. A well defined, established corporate culture will provide the framework for your organizational development and strategic planning. Allow this culture to guide your planning process.

Though there is no single, perfect, cookie cutter method to ensure that your culture and organizational strategy align, there are some critical pieces that should be considered.

How to Ensure That Your Strategy and Culture Align

1. Take a look at who we are as leaders.

An organization’s long term success relies heavily on leadership, its ability to embody/implement your company culture and to lead the company toward its strategic goals. Key leadership, those that set the tone for the strategy and culture of the organization, must understand their own strengths and weaknesses as leaders along with those of the entire leadership team. Without this insight, the implementation of organizational strategy will be stifled, starting at the top, from the beginning. Assessing your leadership is an important step in developing and realizing your strategic plan while creating an atmosphere where people want to work, succeed, and stay.

2. Gain a realistic view of your organization.

Just as we need to assess the leadership of an organization, leadership must assess the organizational maturity as well as the process maturity of a company. Evaluating where your organization stands and understanding its current state offers perspective of its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. It provides a view of what your company can realistically handle and allows you to build your plan around that knowledge.

3. Plan where you are headed and how you will get there.

Developing your strategy will guide your company in reaching its ultimate goals and objectives. Take the time to develop organizational priorities, themes, and accountability as well as a process to manage those priorities.

4. What if?

Once you have some your strategies developed, test them out. Create a series of “What If?” scenarios to get a feel for how well your strategic plans are suited to real life situations. Are your plans realistic? Or are they lofty goals which do not truly guide your business? Risk management and scenario methodologies can help you create a more concrete, reliable plan to lead your organization toward your goals. Use this information to re-work and tweak your strategic plan, then test again.

5. Manage and sustain your progress!

It’s great to pull all these pieces of the puzzle together, but you need to plan how you will keep them all afloat. More importantly, you must then follow through. Keep tabs on how you are managing performance, communications, personnel, resources and all the moving parts that make your company tick. Assess, plan, re-assess, plan again… Once you have the taken those first steps in getting your company headed in the right direction, you won’t need to reinvent the wheel each time you do a self-check. You can compare where you are to your baseline and goals to see how you measure up.

Your strategy and culture are yours to develop. Create the company you want through a clearly defined culture and a solid strategy for getting there. If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at our services, and talk to us about how Strategy and Culture go hand in hand.

Organizational Strategy: What We Can Learn From Our Veterans

veteran culture

Yesterday, on LinkedIn, I wrote an article highlighting our veterans, and how the US Army values of LDRSHIP (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Patriotism) can, and should, apply to your personal and professional lives and the culture of every successful organization.

Ask yourself how your accomplishments or your company’s success would improve exponentially if only two or three of these seven values were a focus and priority of your business every day.

What better way to show your gratitude to our veterans that have given so much, than to epitomize the culture and values that so many of our soldiers lived by during times of sacrifice for our great country; these seven values of LDRSHIP.

We can learn quite a bit from these men and women in uniform. Successfully overcoming adversity through the war game soldiers must play, and the values and strategies they use to win that game, can excel company culture to heights of performance never imagined.

Imagine what a different world we’d live in if we truly incorporated the military’s Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Patriotism in our business strategies and operations? Or, if we committed to those values more in our daily lives at home with family and friends?

Talking about strategies for organizational change using these seven values is a powerful place from which to launch, learn and lead. And, it has been proven time and again in my own work with clients.

Learning from The Hero’s Journey

It’s not just these embedded cultural values that prepare veterans for success in today’s organizations. It is also their experience with the “Hero’s Journey,” what is termed the “monomyth” as introduced by Joseph Campbell:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” – Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. p.23.

Because of their preparation and commitment to this model, veterans play an ever more important and unique variable in the success as part of, or the head of, any organization.

Let’s dig in a bit more:

In my work, I have come to see first hand that organizational strategy can become more relevant as real world scenarios are applied to its development. The Hero’s Journey model that our soldiers and Defense Department live by ensures that five crucial attributes for organizational strategy are included in the process. These include:

  • PLANNING
  • RESISTANCE
  • TRIALS
  • SUCCESS
  • LESSONS LEARNED

Working with these five attributes creates a strategic planning process that is not linear, but circular and continuous. If you consider these five areas, team members start to think strategically in their own paradox, and not in a one-size-fits-all approach. The story of the Hero’s Journey is a framework that helps customize the process and the resulting solution. But, no step can be omitted in that journey.

Don’t Stop At Planning

Many organizations and leaders think that planning, the first attribute above, is the beginning and the end of their strategy.

However, you cannot reach success (success = achievable and high performing strategy) without trial and tribulation, as our solders and veterans will tell you. Those remaining four steps of the hero’s journey ensure the cycle of trial, failure and trial, failure is repeated until true success is achieved, defined, repeated and institutionalized.

Emerging strategies never intended or expected will come from the trials and lessons learned of failure. Strategy is an evolving, continuous, learning process that follows the hero’s journey.

Veterans In Organizational Change

No one knows this hero’s journey method better than our veterans.  They have been to war, lost small battles, lost battle buddies, or lost understanding of the mission in times of intense stress or crisis. But they continue to move forward to test, adapt and overcome through trial and error. They ultimately define a new strategy or desired outcome of success for the environment they are in, based upon the trials and resistance they are up against.

Our veterans are well suited to be a part of, if not leading, organizational strategy development and accountability in our nation’s agencies and businesses. As we celebrate them today, companies should be seeing Veterans as incredibly attractive, qualified talent fully prepared to fill the leadership pipeline.

Where many organizations may have a void of talent, they should be seen as an absolute resource.

Veterans have embedded the “journey” framework of venturing forward without fear, learning from failure, and making change based on the wisdom of experience. Your organization can learn by studying up on that journey and hiring leaders who have lived it.

I would love to hear your thoughts and specific steps you are taking to embody and live these, or other, values in today’s business environment. Please leave a comment or connect with me on LinkedIn to keep the conversation going!