Turning vision into value takes equal parts of leadership and management. Understanding when and how to balance these skills is the challenge. You, the leader, set the vision and define the corporate culture that will make it happen. If you fail to imbue your vision with the qualities that build trust within your company and with your customers, growth will remain an elusive goal. Nowhere is this more evident than when you start a corporate-wide initiative to change your company’s capabilities. In these projects, everyone must be aligned. Communication and process are critical, but at the same time your teat needs to be innovative and push the envelope.
With the right culture, implementing new ideas will be fast. The speed of implementation (time to market) is the single most important factor in achieving profitability. To realize effective velocity, a leader must follow ten basic tenets.
[ribbon_new header=”h2″ style=”light”]Management and Attaining Compliance[/ribbon_new]Start with management. Management is about applying processes, attaining compliance, and measuring performance against goals. Although less critical than leadership, management is essential in applying constraints to the organization for gaining control. Managers direct people to take action while retaining accountability.
Employ Expertise. Never hire people to just simply fill a void in the organization. It is better to do without than to endorse mediocrity. Otherwise, the time to retrain, the drain on morale, and the cost of rework will quickly deplete the value. Always hire the right people.
Apply Process. Process compliance is at the core of management. Process’ goal is to stifle creativity. This is good; look where creative accounting got us. Properly applying process provides customers with consistency, never bureaucracy. Bureaucracy kills productivity and frustrates customers.
[ribbon_new header=”h3″ style=”light”]Leading to Success[/ribbon_new]Leadership is the lion’s share of work in achieving success. Although management is necessary, solely relying only on it limits your company’s growth (not to mention your own). Leadership requires thinking and acting differently—you need to take novel actions.
Excelling in business requires innovation. Projects (by definition temporary, unique endeavours) are the vehicle to deliver the innovation. This requires building an innovative culture whose foundation is leadership and self-direction. Leadership’s agility drives profitability.
Maintain Objectivity. Too many project managers are overly passionate about their projects. Rather than rooting for their project like high-school cheerleaders, they need to maintain objectivity. They must be passionately dispassionate and determine what to amplify and what to discard.
Foster Teams. Teams find answers. Learn from your team members. Talk to them. Work with them. Communicate with them. Sponsor and support them. However, never do the work for them. Leaders let others lead and support them when they stumble. Let them make mistakes so they can learn and grow. Management means you know how; leadership means they know how.
Forget Blame. A culture of blame is the fastest way to destroy morale, teamwork, and trust. It is an infectious disease that thrives on finger pointing and secrets. Refuse to search for blame. Once you have found it, it will only give you fleeting pleasure; there is still a problem to fix.
Heed Denial. Before any problem can be addressed, you must first admit it exists. An open culture devoid of blame, cognizant of its capabilities, and receptive to growth will avoid costly catastrophic failures. It is an integral part of any innovative culture.
Focus on Data. Relying on data, while avoiding analysis paralysis, is the foundation of good decisions. Numbers are truthful little bastards; squeeze them hard enough, and they will tell you the truth—it is integral to their job. Data remove emotion and build trust.
[ribbon_new header=”h4″ style=”light”]Common Pitfalls[/ribbon_new]Caution with Technology. Technology is not the answer. It is only a means to an end. Technology provides consistency and efficiency; never apply it without having the proper people and processes in place. Otherwise, technology will only get you in trouble quicker albeit very efficiently.
Manage the Goal. Define and manage scope, document decisions, and question what customers want by leading them to what they need. It is more cost effective to deploy primary functionality well than to provide a lot poorly.
Learn to Compromise. You will never reach perfection. You and your customer must compromise. It is incumbent upon you to train your employees in the science and art of win-win negotiation.
[ribbon_new header=”h5″ style=”light”]Turning Vision into Value[/ribbon_new]New strategies need new business capabilities, which beget projects. That is how your company grows and survives. Time to market relies on your company’s ability to run projects efficiently and deliver results in the shortest possible time, thereby allowing you to achieve the best ROI. The ten tenets outlined above help build lean cultures focused on the speed of implementation. They are your focus; the challenge is to establish them throughout your organization. As the leader, you must continually adjust and apply the right mixture of innovation and process to maintain quality growth. At the same time, you must balance leadership and management to grow your people, your company, and your value.
[ribbon]Author Bio:[/ribbon]Todd C. Williams is the founder and president of eCameron, Inc., who helps companies turn vision into profit. He has over 25 years of experience preventing project failure, recovering those that go astray, and applying lessons-learned to help other organizations fulfil their strategic goals. He has helped his clients through strategic planning facilitation, setting up and running operations, IT leadership, and as an expert witness. He is the author of Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure, he blogs for The CEO Magazine and The American Management Association, and his own Back From Red Blog. You can also find him on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/backfromred/), Twitter, Facebook, by phone: +1 (360) 834-7361, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.