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The Navigator
Charting a Path to Leadership Excellence
Volume: # 7November/December 2010
President's Message


As 2010 draws to a close it looks like the dawn is finally breaking on the long night of the Great Recession. A colleague just reported that American businesses have over $2 trillion in cash now sitting on their balance sheets as the year ends. So as confidence grows, and the political situation stabilizes somewhat, there is tremendous potential for an accelerated economic recovery. Peter Vail, the Organization Development guru, once said in a seminar about strategy and economic down turns that "a good sailor doesn't stop working just because the wind stops blowing...she keeps the sails trimmed and the winches oiled and ready. The wind WILL pick up and the race favors those who have prepared." As the economic wind picks up in 2011 we hope you're able to catch your fair share, and we hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.


 Bruce Griffiths  


Bruce's signature

   Bruce Griffiths
Organizing & Planning 
The Polaris Big Six

This month, the featured article in The Navigator is the fifth in our series on the Big Six competencies necessary for exceptional performance as a leader. In this edition we're going to focus on Organizing & Planning. 
Some authorities make a distinction between leading and managing - and rightfully so. They point out that leading is about people: building relationships, creating motivation and being effective (doing the right things well). Managing they say, is about tasks: namely, being efficient (doing things right).

The Organizing & Planning competency is at the heart of good managing. It involves the knowledge and skills to successfully handle the many competing priorities that confront a leader every day. In the past two decades, technology has drastically amplified the need for this competency. Today's leaders are bombarded daily with boatloads of data, e-mails, text messages and other electronic communication that can easily distract if not handled appropriately.
Time is a leader's most precious resource. Its allocation is always a zero sum game: you only get so many effective work hours in a day, and the time you give to one project, person or idea necessarily subtracts from something else. At the center of the Organizing & Planning competency is a difficult question: What is the best use of my time right now?

The very best time managers have a "helicopter quality"- they're able to mentally hover above the fray and determine priorities through a continuous process of triaging tasks by urgency and importance. They frequently use a structured process to label tasks and proactively manage priorities. The key is to spend the most time on high importance, but low urgency tasks. This allows for the best thinking and results while focusing on the mission-critical issues of the organization. These tasks can be the most difficult to confront, however, and many managers fall into the trap of procrastinating on them until the pressure of a deadline forces them to act. Or they may spend too much time on urgent, but unimportant tasks, where it's easy to get caught up with solving easier challenges that are urgent but not all that important.

So how do you determine the relative importance of tasks and issues? Test them in terms of how mission-critical they are. If they impact mission delivery or compromise a key value, then it's important for leadership attention. That's why it's imperative that every leader fully comprehend organizational purpose and operating principles, as well as his or her job description as it supports the mission. 

The most important time-management tool in a leader's tool kit is delegation. Lee Iacocca, the celebrated Chrysler CEO, famously said that his real leadership breakthrough came as a sales manager, when he realized that leadership was orchestrating the work of others (not doing it himself). When work came his way, he would ask, "Is this the best use of my leadership time?" and "Who else can do this?" This is the ultimate goal of the strategic leader: orchestrating a team of experts. 

By the way you might be thinking right about now that the best time managers must be workaholics, putting in 16-hour days. But burnout, along with diminishing creativity and effective critical thinking, means it's your responibility as a leader to take breaks for reacreation and exercise. We've all felt that surge of energy and creativity that comes with getting away from work for even a day.

Copyright 2010, Organization Systems International, San Diego, CA, USA

OSI Wishes You a Happy Holiday 
And a Happy New Year!

OSI would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families an enjoyable holiday season as well as a prosperous New Year in 2011.

In This Issue
President's Message
Organizing & Planning
Holiday Message
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OSI 30 Years
At Organization Systems International, we are celebrating 30 years of quality, service, and innovation. We deliver client success with a high-performance approach designed to enhance occupational relationships, improve operational efficiency, and sustain customer relationships.

OSI Clients Include:

American Greetings 
Blizzard Entertainment
Bowling Green State University
Dow Corning Corp.
GE Capital
Insurance Company of the West
Limited Brands
Nike, Inc.
Northwest Pipe
Portland State University
Schneider Trucking Company
Standard Insurance Company
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
State Auto Insurance
The Walt Disney Company
Wendy's International Inc.