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The Navigator
Charting a Path to Leadership Excellence
Volume: # 9
April/May 2011

President's Message

Since our last newsletter, we've been privileged to add two new clients to our growing list - this month we include PetSmart headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and Children's Hospital of Orange County, just a few miles north of OSI Headquarters in San Diego. Both of these customers will be leveraging OSI's Polaris« Competency Model for talent management applications. We've also just finalized our program for the Midwest Forum on Talent Management, being held in Madison, Wisconsin on September 16th. We've confirmed a truly exciting line up of speakers including a keynote by Marc Effron, author of One Page Talent Management. This high-value day is held at the attractive American Family Insurance Conference Center during the Wisconsin fall color season. It provides a grand day of learning, networking, and enjoyment. Registration for the event will open soon and even if you're not a mid-westerner, we hope to see you there!



Bruce Griffiths Bruce's signature  

Best Practices in Management: Rethinking Strategy

Doing It by Design

This month, the featured article in The Navigator is the first in our three-part series on the Best Practices in Management: Rethinking Strategy. In this edition we're going to focus on "Doing It by Design."

Has strategic planning gone out of vogue? Or, at the very least, has it been relegated to the back burner? Recent distractions have certainly sidetracked strategic conversations. Most notably, what is being called "the great recession" has forced many organizations into reactionary mode, collapsing planning horizons from years to weeks (sometimes to the next payroll period!). Then there are the challenges that come with changes in information and communication technology happening at warp speed. In this environment, taking time for formal strategy planning can seem a luxury, not an essential.

Of course, every organization does have a strategy of sorts, whether by design or default. Unintentional strategies tend to fall into the following categories: 

  • The annual budget (what you count is what counts).
  • Departmental objectives, goals, or priorities (if the organization's leaders won't tell me, I'll do my own thing).
  • The chief or CEO's calendar (what he/she pays attention to gets attention). Reacting to a competitor/critic's initiatives (the city council wants to put EMS out to bid).
  • Organizational inertia (driving by looking in the rearview mirror).
All of these are reactive and not very motivational for an "elevator talk" designed to energize the workforce. So why resort to these suboptimal options? We think many leaders are disenchanted with strategic planning, believing it is too formulaic and transient. They think of the process as an event that produces a point of view at a moment in time, and then dies under the press of business.

And of course, they often are right. Leadership teams can be put through the appropriate process - a clarification of mission/vision/values; a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threat) analysis; a prioritization of strategic issues; and a choice of key competitive differentiators with growth path - but, unfortunately, a weekend of strategic reflection is not the heavy lifting required to truly differentiate an organization over time. That takes discipline and commitment to the strategic goals, at all levels, and as expressed by budget priorities.

In the airline industry, there is a dramatic example of this simple truth: Southwest Airlines. If you've ever flown Southwest, you know their strategy. Quite simply, it is point-to-point inexpensive air travel (no frills) designed to compete with bus or rail. The founder, Herb Kelleher, made no secret about what they were going to do, but he also built in the discipline and cost structure to persist over time. They fly a single type of aircraft (737s for more efficient training and crew transfer), they never offer meals, they employ sophisticated fuel hedging experts, tickets are offered only through their website (no commissions), and they fly into gates that are generally less expensive. A strategy of growth into major urban areas in North America was tempered with an incredibly disciplined bottom-line focus providing a shareholder return that fueled confidence and future growth.

We've used a grand example here to make our point that strategy isn't passÚ - it's simply insufficient. Yes, having a strategy is crucial, but that's only the first step: The hard part comes later, with actual implementation of that strategy. You have to make sure your strategy is living within your organization.

Despite the size and success of Southwest Airlines, the same need for strategy exists in startup and smaller organizations. In fact, in both building an investment business case and ensuring you are truly competitive, there is an argument that strategic planning - and yes, strategic thinking - are even more imperative for the smaller organization.

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




San Diego ASTD Meeting

On April 20th, Bruce spoke at the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD San Diego Chapter) program's April chapter meeting in Mission Valley, California. The program covered our successful simulation-based leadership development programs used to develop critical leadership competencies. Bruce also identified the benefits of learning competencies using a large scale behavioral / computer model simulation versus classic classroom or virtual training. Participants in the program experienced sample simulations and examples of how this approach has been used to successfully build knowledge and change behavior which positively impact business results.



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. Please stay tuned for more information.



In This Issue
President's Message
Best Practices in Management: Rethinking Strategy
Quick Link
OSI 30 Years
At Organization Systems International, we are celebrating over 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.