Archive for the 'Development Work Theme' Category

Manoeuvres – your key to having an ACTUAL strategy

If you don’t feel like reading, you can watch my video below or by clicking here,

Three things all clients want from strategy days, which I know because they tell me when we meet.

  1. Practical actions
  2. Avoid waffling
  3. Keeping ‘interesting’ participants in check

There is a simple word I use which gives us all three of these, and that’s


I first heard this word in the context of strategy from Lucy Loh and Patrick Hoverstadt, authors of the brilliant book Patterns of Strategy, and for me it was a game-changer.

Let me elaborate.

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Innovation – What It Really Is and What Makes It Work

You can watch this on video if you’d prefer to see me go through it rather than read.

Innovation.  We all know it.  There’s a fair chance it’s even one of your ‘values’. 

What makes a huge difference to success in this area is understanding what we really are doing, and what we need to look at for it to work.

Luc Hoebeke’s Work Domains

My go-to person in this field is Luc Hoebeke – brilliant thinker and consultant from Belgium who wrote a wonderful book Making Work Systems Better, which he kindly made available on the internet (click the link).

Luc gives us a way to look at work using what he calls domains.  It’s kind of hierarchical in that each later domain provides the conditions for the earlier domain to exist…but not hierarchical as you know it, because each domain is also it’s own complete system.   They don’t ‘manage’ each other.

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The Only Thing Missing From Your Strategy….is a Strategy!

If you prefer watching to reading, you can watch the video about this by clicking here.

You’ve got a strategic plan.  What you might not have in it, however…is a strategy!  I’ll explain.

The Standard Strategy

Imagine I’m interviewing to be coach of the sporting team, and I’m asked to go through my strategy.

I’d start with an intent: a successful club that wins premierships. And a key aspect of that intent is to: win games.

Then I might be asked “Great…but what’s your strategy?”

So I confidently step up to the whiteboard, draw this up…

…and sit back down knowing the job is mine.

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Work Models You Need To Know Ep.2 – ZONE TO WIN by Geoffrey Moore

Video embedded below if you prefer to watch rather than read. 5 mins, has captions.

(If you don’t see the video embedded above, go to it here)

Today’s article is Work Models You Need to Know, Episode 2.  The model is Zone to Win and it’s by Geoffrey Moore.

Why do you need to know this?  It’s a way to organise your entire enterprise, your division or your team to both deliver for your customers today, while ensuring that the strategic innovations needed for success and viability in the future are discovered and brought into the mainstream.

It’s how to do strategy right.

The Basics

The full title of Moore’s book is Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption.  This title is spot on. 

The starting point is the classic consultant’s four-box model, where we divide the world into:

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How To Know Which Services To Keep Doing After COVID

(Click here to watch me go through this on video).

(You can catch up on previous videos here)

The COVID experience let us try some new things. We had to adjust the way we serve the people that we serve, and now we’re doing some sort of returning back to a new normal.  In this article we’re going to talk about how you figure out what to keep doing, start doing and stop doing after the COVID situation.

First, there are foundations that we need to have in place.

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The real work is (often) not about the system

My work with my clients who have built their own businesses often looks like org design and work systems.

But that’s just the surface.

Someone who is talented and entrepreneurial enough to build a business from their own kitchen table to being able to cover the lease agreement for offices that house 30+ staff has no trouble understanding the work.

That’s not the issue, and heading to another seminar, or listening to someone like me describe what has to happen is not going help.  It’s the equivalent of reading more recipe books as a method to get some food on the table.

The challenge is to see this work as the business priority.  And there are multiple signals available that can be used as a way to put this work off until later.  Cash flow is a great one, and might even be the case.  Organising a group of people to do great work is definitely no longer an issue if we can’t make payroll.  Pressing needs of what we might call ‘pillar’ clients is another.

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What Exactly Is The Strategy Role?

Santos and Josh know strategy

Santos and Josh know strategy

(This one’s a longer read, perhaps save it for later or have a read at home.  Cheers, Adam)

Hey Adam,

Wondering if you can help me – my organisation has created a Strategy role and put me in it. I’ve got some generic KRAs, but a lot of room to design my own ‘value-add’. Would appreciate your view on what you see the value of such a role is.

OK, let’s talk about what the role isn’t to start with.

The strategy role is not there to take sole accountability for delivering strategy!  

Do not take on this accountability alone, either explicitly, or implicitly. It’s going to be tempting as you’re going to want to show that you’re valuable, and the core areas will gladly hand you accountability for the future to get it off their plate! It will seem like a win/win, but this degenerates into a lose/lose every time as you’ll be crying “no one here thinks of the future”, they’ll be crying “Strategy doesn’t understand I’ve got real numbers to hit here”, and the CEO will be crying “why can’t we all just get along!”

Strategy is delivered by those that either currently make or do the things customers use, or by new areas that will make or do the things customer use in the future. In other words, strategy is ultimately delivered by Sales and Operations areas (whatever you call them),even in you are involved along the way.  Not you on your own.

What Strategy Is There To Do

So if Strategy doesn’t deliver strategy on it’s own, what does it do?

It ensures both the happening of, and the quality of, the conversations necessary to both develop and implement strategy that will see the organisation continue to be both valuable and viable in it’s community.

Don’t get fooled by the simple sentence – the more simple and straightforward the sentence, the more complex and involved the actual execution (‘land someone on the moon and bring them back safely by the end of the decade‘….simple right?). These conversations are why you exist, but getting them happening requires you to do the following:

Take The Mystery Out Of Strategy. Read more…

Developing a Strategy? Read This First


You’re in charge of ‘developing a strategy’.  Perhaps you’re a General Manager, where developing and delivering strategy (what work, why that, and why us) is the key part of the job.  Or maybe you’ve been assigned the task because you’ve put your hand up, or you’re an agitator, or someone wants to see what you can do.  Or perhaps you’ve been asked to bring together the ubiquitous ‘cross-functional team’.

So what do you do?


Strategies are developed by convening gatherings of people who want to be there, then having real conversations about possible futures.

They’re not developed by working through a process of identifying the current situation, by doing a SWOT, PESTL….whatever.  These things might be useful to identify things to talk about, but they come at a cost, which is the implication that the process will reveal the strategy.

It won’t, and here’s why.

Real strategy, as in strategy that actually happens, is created by people imagining what might be possible, then making the choice to create a new future.   Read more…

How do I work out a reasonable efficiency target?

“OK” said Danni, GM of Operations with about 600 people under her.  “So I’m accountable for the work of each of my Senior Managers, which means I’m accountable for how efficiently each of their areas runs”.

“In the end” I replied.

“And their work is about making and implementing decisions that will make their areas reach the level of efficiency that we need”.

“Yep.  Outputs per input.”

“I know you like to talk about results” Danni went on.  “So how do I work out what’s a reasonable result in terms of efficiency for each of my Senior Managers?”

“How do you do it at the moment?”

“Well…….if I’m honest, I guess I pretty much agree with what the Senior Managers say is possible.”

“And they may well be spot on” I answered.  “But tell me this” I answered.  “When you were getting those renovations done on your house last year, how did you work out what was reasonable?”

“I guess I had a think about what I thought was possible, asked some builders, then asked some friends who had been through a similar thing.  Then I asked for what I wanted.”

“And what are the equivalents for deciding a reasonable result to expect for efficiency?”

“My Senior Managers of course.  But also I suppose conferences, consultants, colleagues, seminars, workshops, books.  All of those things.”  Danni was thinking hard now.

“So that meeting with the improvement consultants last month that three of your Senior Managers went to…..” I let it dangle in the air….

“I should have been there with them.” said Danni.  “I needed to listen, learn, then make my own judgement on what to expect over the next 18 months from my Senior Managers”.

“Exactly.  That decision is the work of a General Manager.”


Ultimately who is accountable for each of your areas being efficient?

Danni was General Manager Operations in a 1400-person organisation with about 600 people under her umbrella.   The new Board had made it clear they required a renewed focussed on ‘efficiency and effectiveness’.

“OK” Danni continued, “so I’m accountable that the work of my various areas is effective, meaning creates value for the organisation, and my Senior Managers are accountable that it’s done efficiently”.

“Nearly” I replied.

“Only nearly?” Danni laughed.  “I thought I was getting somewhere!”

“We are” I continued.  “But remember from the workshop last week, what is each manager accountable for?”

“The results of their people”.

“Which means ultimately who is accountable for each of your areas being efficient?”

“Well I guess that means me.  But now I’m confused”.

“Fair enough!” I agreed.  “But hang with me.  The work of each of your Senior Managers is to make their areas run more efficiently.  As in achieve a better outputs to inputs ratio.  And work is about making decisions to reach an outcome.  So your Senior Managers are paid to identify then choose a pathway that will see the outcome of a more efficient operation achieved”.

“Go on…..” Danni said, nodding slowly.

“But… much of an improvement in efficiency is considered to be a good job…..the result they are expected to achieve…..that’s your call”.

“Why my call?”

“Because you are…..” I began.  Danni smiled and joined in….”accountable for the results of my people“.