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The Navigator
Charting a Path to Leadership Excellence
Volume: # 10June/July 2011

President's Message

In this edition of The Navigator, we're pleased to announce an opportunity for all Polaris certified coaches to join us this September 15th for a 

Polaris Users' Group Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. As you know, enterprise-wide competency models driving all talent management systems have become a best practice in organizations that strive for an integrated approach. So come join fellow Polaris users for a morning of discussion, debate, and learning at the Polaris Users' Group Conference in one of America's most livable cities.


To ensure a productive visit, we've placed the Polaris Users' Group Conference adjacent to our Midwest Forum on Talent Management, which takes place the next day, September 16th. The Forum is a high-value day of presentations and workshops designed for seasoned talent management practitioners.


So come for the Polaris Users' Group Conference then stay for another high-value day of learning and networking at the Midwest Forum on Talent Management!

 Bruce Griffiths  


Bruce's signature


   Bruce Griffiths

Best Practices in Management: Rethinking Strategy

Ideas and Execution
By Bruce Griffiths and Bob Power
This month, the featured article in The Navigator is the second in our three-part series on Best Practices in Management: Rethinking Strategy. In this edition we're going to focus on "Ideas and Execution."  Last month's installment, "Doing It by Design", explored the importance of creating a strategy proactively rather than by default.

Imagine if, back in 1984, a friend named Mike came to you with what he said was a great idea. He was going to sell, direct to consumers, custom-made desktop computers built in his university dorm. You might have wondered what Mike had been smoking and tried to dissuade him. Of course, if we told you that Mike's last name was Dell and the company eventually became Dell computers, you might rethink your response.


We start with the Dell story because it is a terrific example of two concepts critical to effective strategic planning: first, the need to generate and be open to new strategic ideas (in this case, direct-to-consumer sales); second, and most important, execution of the accepted strategy (which, in Dell's case, took root over several years and incorporated feedback from successes and failures). Let's look more closely at each concept.


Generating ideas

One thing about "best ideas" is that, like Mike Dell's, they don't look practical at first. In fact, in most strategic planning sessions, these ideas wouldn't make it past the "rolling eyeballs" stage.


What if another of your friends told you he had made a running-shoe sole in his wife's waffle iron and wanted to mass-produce it? Does that sound like a practical idea? Probably not, but Bill Bowerman's waffle sole wasn't ridiculed by his friend Phil Knight... and its basic idea became Nike. If an idea is outlandish but can be shown to meet a customer need, it deserves a listen.


So what can you learn from these examples to help you develop a winning strategy in your particular niche?

   First, you must expect and encourage your staff to come to strategy sessions with new thinking about ways in which you can meet customers' needs. If a meeting doesn't generate new ideas, it isn't accomplishing your goals.

   Second, realize that great ideas may not sound practical. Your strategy sessions must develop a pattern of openness to all ideas regardless of whether they seem able to pass a "reality test." If an idea is an obvious winner, chances are someone else would have thought of it already.

   Finally, keep in mind that great ideas aren't necessarily born during a meeting; they frequently happen while you're walking the dog or taking a shower. The key is to continually reinforce that it is staff members' responsibility to come to meetings with new ideas and solutions.


Executing the strategy

One of the reasons early Dell and Nike strategies were successful is that Dell, Bowerman, and Knight had no one to whom they could delegate. Responsibility for execution of their earliest strategies was theirs and no one else's. But this isn't the case in many organizations. What tends to happen is that senior management goes away for a few days, develops a strategy, comes back and delegates the strategy to the next level. The top managers then sit in their offices, wondering, "How is the staff coming along with the strategy?"  Meanwhile, further down in the organization, lower-level managers are wondering, "What do they want us to do now?"


Cascading the strategy down the organization is a critical part of implementation. Managers at every level should have clear goals pertaining to how their departments will contribute to strategy implementation. However, final responsibility for success remains with senior management.


Don't forget the fundamentals


As important as ideas and execution are, we don't want to ignore the power of an effective planning process - and that starts with revisiting and articulating the organization's mission, vision, and values. That process, described in the last newsletter, provides valuable context and structure.


To sum up: strategic management and planning can be very complex. However, if you remember the twin touchstones of ideas and execution and include them in every aspect of the process, you'll never stray far from success.



Touchstones of Strategy

          Remain open to "impractical ideas. If they were practical, someone else would have thought of them.

          Strategy execution remains the sole responsibility of senior management.

          Strategy execution never ends; it is an ongoing task for all managers.

          Managers at all levels must have an overall objective to ensure that the strategy is executed.

          Your planning process is important. Use it to ensure a generation of ideas or execution of strategy.



  Copyright 2011, Organization Systems International, San Diego, CA, USA



Polaris Users' Group Conference

We are pleased to announce that OSI will be conducting its first

Polaris Users' Group Conference this September. This will be a great opportunity for users of Polaris to network, share ideas and questions, and learn about industry trends. Topics to be covered will include:
  • New research regarding the Polaris 360 and rater/rating trends. 
  • Discussion of the BIG SIX Polaris competencies that explain most of the variance in first line and middle management performance. 
  • Trends in competency modeling and competencies. 
  • Additional talent management topics, such as: Performance Management, Selection/Promotion/Succession Management, and Learning & Development as chosen by Polaris users.

The conference will be hosted by Bruce Griffiths, president of OSI, and will precede the Midwest Forum on Talent Management in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday, September 15, 2011. We are looking to continuously add content to this conference to ensure we address all topics/questions/concerns that the Polaris community has, so please feel free to send any added topics you would like covered in the conference to Naomi Barbre (nbarbre@orgsysint.com). For more information and to register, click here.

Midwest Forum on Talent Management
On Friday, September 16th, OSI will once again partner with Loichinger Advantage to hold the second annual Midwest Forum on Talent Management in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin. This year's keynote speaker will be Marc Effron, founder of the New Talent Management Network and author of One Page Talent Management. The Forum will include a variety of presentations designed for today's Human Resources, Organizational Development, Learning & Development and Performance Excellence professionals. American Family Insurance's state-of the art conference facilities will provide a comfortable venue for a day of professional development and networking with colleagues. Registration and more details are available at www.midwestforum-tm.com.  
In This Issue
President's Message
Rethinking Strategy: Ideas and Execution
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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.