All Done

I have decided that this post is my last. I’m taking down my “shingle” as I wrap up my current contracting gigs over the next six months. It’s been fun.

I left TELUS in late 2010 and started this blog right away along with my new “Outburst Performance” consulting company. I’ve enjoyed putting down my little observations on a regular monthly basis since then. For many, they would be quite incomprehensible or esoteric. For others, they clearly resonated based on the feedback. So, for whatever little amusement or usefulness they provided, I hope you enjoyed it. They were picked up over thirty years. They’re ones I still use constantly.

I’ll do bit of consulting here and there, but it’s time to spend a bit more time at the piano and in the garden. That’s on the agenda.

So, here’s to turning strategy into reality. As I heard it once put, strategy without execution is hallucination. I guess life’s like that, too.

Waiting ’round the bend, Darren

Lambert Channel

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Small Non-Profits – Is a Balanced Scorecard Overkill?

It’s probably true that all organizations – big and tiny – go through what they consider a strategic review on a periodic basis. The process for this may be tight, it may be loose, but generally the people involved come away feeling that the organization is doing what it needs to be doing to meet its mission.

However, when it gets to the next step – execution – things get a little dicier. Beyond launching projects, there is often not a concise indication of what “success” looks like. That is, nobody is easily able to say, “oh, if we increase revenue or funding by such and such, that’s our goal,” or, “bringing on x% of young adults is what we’re looking for to be successful.” When the projects are done – if the projects are done – will it be evident how they contributed to the strategy?

What does good look like?

What does good look like?

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Minutes: hours or days?

How long should it take for minutes to be published after the meeting is over?

Is this a lightweight topic? Maybe. Still

I think it may be the rule more often than not that they’re “typed up” and distributed just before the next meeting. Depending on the formality of the organization, there may be a motion to accept them, or not. I’d wager that by the time people are reading them, they’re approved over 90% of the time because, well, who can remember if they’re correct, or not.

I might also wager that since they’re produced just–in-time for the next meeting, the person creating them has largely forgotten the subtleties in the conversation at the original meeting, and therefore the minutes become little more than the ever-popular “discussion ensued” followed by the decision taken. Indeed, even the decision taken may or may not reflect exactly what everyone thought they were voting on.

Get those minutes out

Get those minutes out

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Throwing out the question

Anyone who has been a meeting facilitator knows that there’s more to the job than meets the eye.

At a basic level, there may be a fair bit of involvement in the logistics of the space – the room itself, or the mechanics of the audio-conferencing or webinar facilities – and there’s the need to get everyone “in their spot” and organized to get the show on the road.

Beyond that, there is the need for reinforcing the purpose of the meeting. This may sound obvious, but it may or may not be clear to everyone in the same way. Is it merely for information sharing or is a decision to be made?

Further still, there is the dance of managing of the agenda, allowing a bit of slack here, a bit of tightness there, all to get to a successful outcome within the time constraints.

But there’s something else.

A facilitator watches the eyes

A facilitator watches the eyes

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Failing Faster

Who doesn’t appreciate a good alliteration? The concept of “fail faster” seems to be popping up all over recently. Generally speaking, I think this is a good thing. What is missing, perhaps, is the add-on: succeed sooner.

There’s really nothing new about this, of course, but it’s always worth remembering that you can’t know the future absolutely. Strategy – according to Kaplan and Norton – is a set of hypotheses of cause and effect. This hypothetical part is worth exploring.

Cause and effect

Just try

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Confusing Goals and Purpose

I was recently reviewing a non-profit’s strategic plan and came away a bit puzzled. Everything was in order – sort of – but possibly too much so.

How can that be?

Too many words.

Clarity of purpose

Clarity of purpose

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Where is this project taking us?

It’s interesting to see projects that, although are intended to be initiated out of some kind of strategic planning exercise, are often almost pop-up items. Someone raises an opportunity that’s just too juicy to pass by; or, a senior person in the organization simply mandates it as a priority.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as the project is demonstrably a key fit within a plan, which itself ties back to the strategy in the first place. Unfortunately, though, what often results is a loose collection of well-meaning projects that don’t scream out that a master game plan is being executed. Further, the projects can start out well but end up on the rocks when the initial fervour dissipates and ongoing support for the project itself, let alone subsequent phases, dries up.

Where is this project taking us?

Where is this project taking us?

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Strategically Appropriate Compensation

What are you worth? Who says so?

I’m reminded of a scene from the great movie, Midnight Cowboy, the story of a young man, Joe Buck, who goes to New York from Texas to make a lot of dough as a male hooker.

One of Joe’s first clients was a woman named Cass (Sylvia Miles) who didn’t realize she was a client. As she was about to leave her apartment, Joe attempts to get paid for his sexual services. Astonished, Cass freaks out and shouts:

SM-10-sylviamiles-midnightcowboy-te“You were gonna ask me for money? Who the hell do you think you’re dealing with, some old slut on 42nd Street? In case you didn’t happen to notice it, ya, you big Texas longhorn bull, I’m one hellavah gorgeous chick! You heard it. You’re twenty-eight years old. You think you can come up here and pull that kind of crap up here? Well you’re out of your mind. I could kill you with my bare hands. Will you get out of here!” Continue reading

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Monthly management meetings: Should it be on the agenda?

If there’s nothing to report, should it be on the agenda?

I’ve written posts in the past giving what I think should be the broad categories of topics that should be covered off at monthly management meetings. Following the Balanced Scorecard methodology (Kaplan and Norton), these include:

  • financial topics
  • customer topics
  • internal process topics
  • learning & growth topics
Which items should be on the agenda?

Which items should be on the agenda?

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Strategy in Summer – Are You Nuts?

So, August is a beautiful time of year in Canada and perhaps thoughts of strategy and execution are far away. Understandable. And yet we all know that often our best ideas come when we least expect it. In the shower; walking the dog; watching a movie.

Ideas, like so many kabobs

Ideas, like so many kabobs

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