KingChapman Blog

Execution of Growth Strategies & Organizational Transformation

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jul 12, 2018 9:35:52 AM

(Author's note: this is a long-form (7,500 word) thought leadership article on the importance of transformation in the execution of growth strategies. To download the PDF version, go here.)

 Summary

Growing a business is a daunting task for many, if not most, executives. While growth is considered fun, and what executives dream of being engaged in, achieving sustainable growth is another story. For example, meaningful growth requires leadership skills, not simply management know-how. While executives may bristle at this assertion, their angst is based in the assumption that they are already skilled leaders—typically, nothing could be further from the truth. They likely are skilled managers, but they equate management capabilities with leadership capabilities. Therein lies the problem.

Successful growth strategies, by definition, require transformation of the organization, which can only happen with strong leadership. Strong leadership is ultimately needed throughout the entire organization and must start as a model from the very top.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

Anyone Can Be A Leader

Posted by Larry Hoelscher on Jun 5, 2018 8:01:00 AM

By Larry G Hoelscher, Partner & Bob Chapman, PhD, Managing Partner of KingChapman

Leadership is the starting point for strategy, execution and transformation. Building a cadre or core of leaders is a critical success factor. Yet too often leadership is thought to be exercised only by executives and a few other chosen individuals. We say that is not only wrong, but it robs organizations of a most precious resource for executing strategic change and transformation. How then does this mistake keep occurring? 

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Topics: Strategic Execution, Leadership Accountability

Interdependence is Transformation in Action

Posted by Larry Hoelscher on Apr 23, 2018 12:46:50 PM

This article is co-authored by Bob Chapman & Larry Hoelscher

Think back over the last month. How many times have you heard any of the following statements or something close to it?

  • “We operate in silos, and that is blocking us from getting the needed improvement!”
  • “We are continually waiting on them to deliver … there is nothing we can do.”
  • “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.”
  • “I need the organization to work together better.”

Can you see a theme present in all these statements? Even though action could be taken to improve performance in the business, it is somehow blocked. Absent that blockage, those speaking or thinking these statements would initiate the appropriate action.  

So what is stopping them? Usually, the blockage occurs because others need to agree on the actions needed and take them. There is dependence on others to take action, and for whatever reason the desired action is not occurring. The people and groups with whom the dependency exists are either unaware of the desired action or have thus far been unable or unwilling to act.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

Leadership Lessons Learned from Hurricane Harvey

Posted by Larry Hoelscher on Sep 26, 2017 1:46:55 PM

“I am here to help you. What do you need?”, offered Becca.

True leadership is shown in the spontaneous actions of people to their circumstances. When people are inspired to make a difference, they become leaders and inspire others to take extraordinary actions. In this case, it was a generous woman reaching out to support families who could never repay the gifts that they were given. Further, the leaders in this case were inspirational and were never acknowledged for their contribution. Lastly, the evidence of inspired leadership was the amazing response of other people and organizations joining in to help. There were some important leadership lessons learned from the tragedy wrought by Hurrican Harvey.

This past Saturday evening, I had the chance to join some friends over dinner. All of the dinner guests were very fortunate in that none of us suffered any losses from Hurricane Harvey, which dumped up to 50” of rain on the Houston area in less than a week, producing unbelievable flooding all around our great city. But one person in our party – Becca – shared an amazing story about a neighborhood not far from her home that didn’t escape the flooding.

I want to repeat her story, because I found it so inspiring as I realized that her experience demonstrates the kind of true leadership that my partners and I are always attempting to foster with our clients.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

Does Your Business Strategy Execution Resemble A Sea Monster?

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jul 18, 2017 3:24:02 PM

British Columbia is one of the most beautiful regions in North America. Most think of Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler Mountain as the high points of British Columbia. Truly each of these locations is spectacular. Kelowna is one area to add to this list of amazing places in BC. This town with a native Indian name sits in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan Valley excels as a region for agricultural and wine. It also sits at the base of a spectacular Okanagan Lake. This deep, clear lake is breathtakingly beautiful. It also is home to the mythical sea monster, Ogopogo.

Ogopogo is described as a 40-50-foot sea monster. It has reportedly been seen by First Nations people since the nineteenth century. Another sighting reportedly happens in the 1920’s and the 1970’s. The Okanagan Lake is home to forests, logging camps and saw mills. Given the industry, many have assumed that these sightings are actually large logs floating in the lake. Who knows? Maybe there is a sea monster actually living in the lake. Regardless of the “facts”, telling the story of Ogopogo continues to this day. The retelling of the story seems to make it “more real”. One way people from this area interact with strangers is to ask if they have seen Ogopogo? It’s a good conversation starter, and ultimately a source of good humor.

Ogopogo & Business Strategy Execution

The phenomenon of Ogopogo often applies to how employees think about strategies in their organizations. That is, many people speak about their organization’s strategies as if it is a myth. Try asking people in an organization if they know their organization’s strategies. They will say that they have heard stories that it might exist, but have not actually experienced anything to prove it is real.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

3 Questions About Leadership Commitment to Change

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jun 20, 2017 6:18:00 AM

A common misconception in business is that management and leadership are the same. They are not. The impact and roles of leadership and management are quite different. Leadership is essential for companies who need to grow and create value beyond the levels given by the market. That is, to make things happen which were not already going to happen. If a business has all the growth and value creation it needs, then leadership commitment is not important. Of course, that describes few if any businesses today.

If you want to expand the importance of leadership in your organization, it is useful to determine what the term leadership means to people in your organization. Many do not have a good understanding of leadership and management, as well as why there is a distinction between the two. Many consider the two terms to be interchangeable, that is to be describing the same capabilities. Some will differentiate leaders from managers based on position in the organization. Senior managers are considered to be leaders since they have greater responsibilities.

Leadership is needed in order to produce the “elements of inspiration, vision and human passion which drive corporate success”. In case you think this description is from a recent work, that phase was written in 1977 in a groundbreaking article in the Harvard Business Review. Leaders create the environment which promotes others to excel.

The confusion about differences in leadership and management is harmful to organizations. It serves to diminish the importance of leaders, often in the organizations which most need powerful leaders. Further it reduces the emphasis placed on development of leadership, which only makes the matter worse.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

Leadership Team Development When 'Not a Strategic Bone in the Body'

Posted by Bob Chapman on Mar 21, 2017 7:07:00 AM

This colorful phrase came from a CEO. I don’t know if he invented it or borrowed it from someone else. I worked with this new CEO to create new strategies for several of the large businesses in his portfolio. This CEO had been promoted up from one of the business units and had little experience with the other larger business units. These businesses were in the down part of the cycle, which created a challenging period for his company. Our challenge was to learn as much as we could, as quickly as possible to support the business unit executives in dramatically improving their businesses. We spent endless hours in strategic review sessions as well as a lot of time on the airplane moving between locations. Often at the end of a grueling day of leadership team development and business review, we would pile onto the plane to reflect on the day. It was at this time the assessment “not a strategic bone in the body” could be used when describing the management team.

It’s wasn't that these executives were not intelligent - they were. Nor was it that they didn't know their businesses - they did. Unfortunately though, all they knew was the operational side of the business. For quite some time there had been a lack of organizational accountability for strategic thinking. Consequently, these executives did not recognize that operations and strategy were different. They were “out of balance”, in that they were strong on operations and weak on strategy. The lack of balance between operations and strategy was an issue for the previous CEO, which was part of the reason my client was hired to replace him. This body was in definite need of leadership team development, particularly in the area of strategic thinking.

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Topics: Organizational Culture, Strategic Execution

Show Leadership Accountability in Strategic Execution Initiatives

Posted by Bob Chapman on Mar 7, 2017 8:00:00 AM

 One might think that the leadership in strategic execution is obvious and straight forward. For example, the role of leaders is to guide the organization in executing its strategies and achieving expected results. This seems so obvious. My mom often used the phrase, “It’s as obvious as the nose on your face” to describe things such as this. While this role of leaders seems evident, in practice it often does not work out that way. The research on the effectiveness of strategic execution initiatives finds that more than half do not deliver the results. In fact, some estimate the failure rate to be between 66% and 85%.

How come? Clearly, leadership is not getting the job done.

Donald Sull gives a common explanation used by leaders in this situation, “We had a good strategy, but lousy execution”. Sull calls this a “cop-out”, and goes on to assert that the problems begin with the strategies which were likely too complicated and not designed with execution in mind. I strongly agree with Don Sull on this point. Further, I assert that the dynamic begins with leadership accountability.

Let’s look at some examples.

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Topics: Leadership Accountability, Strategic Execution