Digital tools modernize change management

Our line of work in creating strategic plans, coaching executives and managers through implementation, and change management in their organizations is constantly under pressure. there is an ever-present desire to find ways to simplify how it’s done, and shorten the time frame in achieving measurable results.

Business leaders resist the amount of work and time typically devoted to creating and updating strategic plans. The increasing pace of change in our business environment throws monkey wrenches into our well-laid plans. Yes, we are always seeking that silver bullet that will magically keep our plans on track, shorten the time frame to success, and basically keep everyone happy and productive.

Intuitively I know no such silver bullet exists, but in my own continual search for it, I occasionally come across a nugget, not a bullet, like this one that might actually help me and my clients.

An article from McKinsey by Boris Ewenstein, Wesley, Smith and Ashvin Sologar titled Changing Change Management, provides a compelling insight about one strategic element common to some recent successful change efforts.

Two clear challenges

The McKinsey article’s sub-title mentions two clearly visible issues or challenges for implementing change:
1) “Research tells us that most change efforts fail.”
2) “Yet change methodologies are stuck in a pre-digital era.”

The article’s main premise is that our traditional approach to change management is outdated and that using digital tools is the key to modernizing that approach. Aha! I say. While digital tools are not a new nugget for me, I did reap some new insights on the approaches to implementing those tools for more effective change management.

It has not occurred overnight but we have seen global companies that are now clear industry leaders disrupting their industries, experiencing astronomical growth and generally, success. Amazon, Uber and Facebook come to mind as examples of those who have employed digital tools to create their footprint in the world of business.

The McKinsey article mentions some of the digital tools many companies have employed and all have one thread in common. It is the result of closer, more rapid communication with their customers primarily and their other stakeholders as well. All brought about by the use of digital tools. That communication is now rich with data, tons of data, and not just junk data. Useful data that drives better, faster and more focused responses to fix problems and leverage successes.

Out with the old?

Does this mean we toss out our traditional methods and approaches for planning and executing change initiatives? I say no. We still need the training, practice, and discipline involved in the planning retreats, applying the best practices we can uncover for leading and managing people and for ensuring sustained continuous improvement in everything we do. Only now we must apply these digital tools to accomplish that faster, better and create more lasting change in our organizations.

I know I can’t tackle rewiring my home’s electrical system on my own without training in basic and advanced principles and practices. But, possibly, I can get that training faster with digital training tools. However, the practice is essential to prevent a disaster to myself or others, so a wise move would be to apprentice the work. Likewise, I know a business can’t avoid the work required to create long term plans and deliberately create the processes and systems to support the resulting change initiatives. They can only enhance the speed of achieving results and sustaining those results with the digital tools mentioned in the McKinsey article.

In our business, we are using more and more digitally-based communications with our clients, such as webinars, online courses, feedback resources, and more regular communication. We are still working on finding more effective touch points that are not intrusive. These all involve changes in practices and the culture of our business, just as it does for everyone else.

Employee Engagement Still Needed

Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeways: Employee engagement is still lacking in organizations. Job satisfaction numbers have not changed much since 2010. More than 85% are actively disengaged and have no passion for their jobs.

Employees at workIn 2010 I published an article (Employee Satisfaction a Critical Component of Success) about how employee satisfaction is directly tied to productivity and organizational success. The research then stated that the majority of workers are actively disengaged from their work, and only 25% felt a strong attachment to their employer.

Recently, I read an article written by Eric Siu of the Globe and Mail in Canada, “How to Ïncrease Employee Satisfaction for the Long Haul,” and it states that “a Gallup report demonstrates that 63 percent of employees are ‘not engaged’ in their jobs. This essentially means that 87% have no passion for their jobs,” he says.

It looks as though little has changed in five years, and my article is still relevant.

Siu’s article goes on to state that many factors contribute to employee satisfaction, and that employees are most satisfied when their four core needs are met: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

I addressed these in my article, too, focusing on elements from Matthew Kelly’s book, The Dream Manager and using the Haines Centre’s Systems Thinking Approach to help employees create a plan to accomplish their dreams. In Kelly’s book, he demonstrates how helping employees achieve their inner most dreams actually has a positive impact on their work. Whether the dream is to own a house or participate in the New York Marathon, he cites examples of company successes when they helped employees achieve their personal dreams.

The book impressed me enough to create a special planning model and Employee Satisfaction Assessment which are described in my article. Having read Eric Siu’s article, I see that it still has relevance today. You can download my article from our website to delve further into this issue. Matthew Kelly’s book is also available through our Amazon bookstore, also on our website.

After you read the article, please let me know your thoughts. Connect with me on LinkedIn if we aren’t already connected. Just let me know in the message that you’re following up about the Employee Satisfaction article. Or send me a message through LinkedIn. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

The Future of Strategic Management

Staying in touch with developments in Strategic Management inevitably requires reading books, articles, blogs and viewing videos delivered by fellow practitioners of this discipline. Perhaps the greatest value in doing this is the constant reminder that the way to seek improvement in managing strategy is by implementing change, and in fact, accelerating change – and it keeps us sharp. It keeps us thinking. And it keeps us innovating.

Rick SmithTwo recent articles bring up topics related to improving strategy that address some fundamental issues we should keep in mind. One is titled Is Strategy Dead? 7 Reasons the Answer is Yes, by Rick Smith (Forbes.com, 9/22/2014).

SusanSmithThe other is Why I Think Change Management is Broken, by Susan Smith (susan.smith.live, 9/29/2014).

The first article cites the compressed time frames in which strategies must be created, planned, implemented and evaluated. It offers these seven reasons with supporting descriptions for the premise that strategy is dead:
1.    Incrementalism has been disrupted by disruption.
2.    Innovation is occurring with high variance outcomes.
3.    The past is no longer a good predictor of the future.
4.    Competitive lines have dissolved completely.
5.    Information has gone from scarcity to abundancy. (I will add indigestion.)
6.    It is very difficult to forecast option values.
7.    Large scale execution is trumped by rapid transactional learning.

The article concludes by stating: “The language of Strategy may be alive and well within the musings of corporate planners and external consultants. Unfortunately, the marketplace is no longer paying attention.”

Some interesting comments on the LinkedIn Group – Strategic Management Forum-Global by Tim MacDonald about this article say: “They want different outcomes. But not a different system.” And: “One challenge for Strategy is to come to grips with the letting go.”

Certainly, when we plan anything, we are creating change and therefore presumably preparing to let go of something. Aren’t we? So we must know that embracing the change and following through with it is the key. Doing so with the clarity of purpose when applying Systems Thinking, supports us in the adjustments that we must make to our strategies along the way.

So, what is your take on this? Is strategy really dead, or is our approach to strategy in need of some applied change management?

The second article also addresses the constantly increasing pace of change and the pressure on strategy and strategic plans to adapt to a “new normal”. Evidently there is a McKinsey survey that “demonstrates that 30% of Change Programs are still ineffective spanning a decade-long assessment”.

This article goes on to elegantly articulate the value of Systems Thinking as “providing the ‘final’ answer to a more effective framework to manage change regardless of its complexity or velocity, embedding it into our daily routines for profitable and sustainable results.” Susan reminds us we simply cannot “opt out” of the set of natural laws that make up Systems Thinking.

She adds that most people have not heard of Systems Thinking because they have not been introduced to it by its proper name. I would add those people have neither been given a clear definition, nor some good and simple examples of it. Once they have learned the definition, they almost always become avid students and practitioners of Systems Thinking, embracing its simplicity.

Susan continues with a conversation about the importance of using all of the Systems Thinking building blocks and not taking short cuts by only adopting one or two a-la-carte style. When you try these short cuts, your Change Program will most likely fail.

So, do you think Change Management is Broken? If so, what will you do to help fix it?

I offer you this bonus topic prompted by a post from Paul Barnett  where he asks the question: “…could this, and should this, happen to the teaching of Strategic Management?  I would argue that it could, and should.” His question in turn is prompted by the Financial Times article published on 9/22/14 titled, Universities to Revamp Economics Courses by Clare Jones.

In a nutshell, university students worldwide recently complained bitterly that economics, as it is taught today, is completely disconnected from reality and today’s economic issues. This has caused universities around the world to collectively begin to adjust their curricula to address this matter.

I find it fascinating how today’s technology can unite a group of seemingly unconnected stakeholders to create massive global change. One would think that continuously applying Systems Thinking to this singular course of education could have caused this change to be more organic and timely, and that it could certainly help in implementing the coming changes.

So, in terms of educating our future Strategic Planners and Managers, I find these threads of thought to be compelling, in particular about Systems Thinking:

If teaching economics at the university level needs some major change, what about strategic planning and strategic management? Should we be exploring what we need to change to address the “new normal”?

And what about addressing not just what is taught, but also teaching how to learn? My greatest takeaway from the years I spent in classrooms all the way through university, is that in addition to learning facts, figures and how to do things, I was also learning how to learn. Recognizing this made my graduate work so much richer.

What can we practitioners of strategic planning and management do to ensure future practitioners are being guided toward the most effective application of their craft and successful careers? Toward continuing to innovate and change how things are done in the world of strategy?

I would start with a good foundation in Systems Thinking. Illustrating how it can become a habit and just as importantly, how to distinguish it and complement it with tactical or analytic thinking. We know that Systems Thinking is not the exclusive solution to strategy and solving problems, we know that it is inclusive of other types of thinking because it is holistic in its process.

If you would like to further explore the topics of ttrategic thinking, strategic management and managing change, please contact me at eric[at]dennergroup.com.

Social Media Has Changed How Leaders Lead and Act

A World Gone SocialIn their new book, A World Gone Social, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbit share real-world stories and examples of how companies are embracing social media as a platform for building customer relationships and engaging staff. Not just small companies, but Fortune 500 companies. (Coiné is one of the World Strategy Week panelists.)

During an Interview with Ted Coiné and Mark Babbit, Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach, asked about the life of employees and how social media has changed that.

“Social media and mobile devices that have enabled us to leverage social media have made the 9-5 mentality irrelevant. It’s gone.” said Babbit.  The 9-5 work day is gone thanks to our new always connected, 24/7 world. While a few people still follow the traditional work life of commuting to an office and working their 8.5 hours and then commuting home again, the majority of us are actively engaged in “work and life” almost all the time.

Social has changed the way employees engage with their leaders. The old business school model of ÿhr leader is in charge and knows all the answers” is no longer valid. According to Babbit, “especially for us males, we see ourselves in that role of knowing everything; women, on the other hand,” says Babbit, “have had that figured out a long time ago. They were much more democratic in their leadership. They were much better listeners, and much better engagers.” This helps to “empower” employees, Nasser says in the interview. “Becoming a social leader means relinquishing power and knowledge. It’s scary for leaders and portends a complete shift in how leaders think and act and lead,” says Babbit.

Keys to improve your strategic thinking

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International  April 2014

Takeaways: Improve your strategic thinking to stay on top of your game. Surround yourself with people who think differently in order to broaden your perspective.

It’s easy to get lost in routine and forget about constantly improving your game. One of the ways to do this is to constantly improve your thinking. According to Shaun Rein, author of Three Keys to Improving Your Strategic Thinking, published on Forbes.com, the easy thing is to only read and listen to people who think like you. But by doing that, you surround yourself with a group of “yes” people and you don’t gain the necessary insights from contrary thinkers.

In his article, Rein lists three keys to improve your strategic thinking. These are:
1)    Constantly question your own opinions. Don’t always assume your opinion is right. Listen to others and be open to consider another viewpoint. Read the opinions of those who criticize your viewpoint to see if what they say has merit. You may be surprised and find a nugget of truth that might change your opinion.

2)    Don’t just read articles by these contrarians; surround yourself with people who think differently. Whether you are a leader in a large organization, the head honcho, or an entrepreneur, it’s important to gather trusted advisors and staff who offer differing opinions about world views, marketplace opportunities, and business prospects. Choose people from seemingly disparate fields for periodic discussions around a specific theme or focus, such as the state of China’s economy.

3)    Finally, he says, it’s important to recharge your brain and your body regularly. We know the importance of taking time every day to exercise, as well as take extended vacations away from the office, computers, and your smart phone. Rein suggests taking a trip somewhere where the people are different – a different culture and language. Even doing simple things like volunteering weekly at a soup kitchen will force you to re-think your life’s priorities and recharge your brain.

Regardless of our level in an organization, as leaders it’s important that we challenge our own thinking and status quo. Otherwise, we end up in a rut and we limit our own potential.

Strategic Planning Career Takes Focus

Eric A. Denniston, Denner Group International   January 30, 2014

Takeaways: A strategic planning career defined. A possible career path to plan for. What size organizations to seek work in. Valuable certifications to obtain and keep.

Are you already planning to have a career, or switch your career in the direction of Strategic Planning? Make sure you ask yourself what long term outcomes you are looking for and once you are in that career, what becomes possible for you. If you are just beginning to pursue a professional career, ask yourself, what is it about Strategic Planning that spins your jets and what will cause you to pursue such a career with focus, vigor and tenacity. In either case, also make sure you talk to people who are in this career, either as internal practitioners or as consultants and executives who hire these people.

Having an undergraduate degree is a basic place to start if you are planning such a career after or soon after finishing high school. A business degree is more likely to lead to work that is best suited to gaining experience you will need; however, social and engineering sciences can also be very beneficial. This is true because strategic planning in fact requires multi-disciplinary skills.

Large Organizations Provide Platforms for Skill Building

Becoming effective as a planner involving strategy requires significant experience in tactical activities, and getting to know at least one organization of a few hundred employees or more extremely well. This can be accomplished by working in a number of different areas of a company, or a similar company in the same industry, say banking, manufacturing or insurance. Understanding how all those departments interact will lead to good insight for leading planning activities later on. Typical roles that will enhance your career include being a project leader or a department manager, and getting involved in process improvement.

Along the way, skill building will come through practice; and finding mentors, both inside and outside your company, will help immeasurably as well. You should also pursue general and specific education opportunities. A master’s degree in management is a good choice, if possible focused on strategic management, which is a growing area of discipline. You should also become certified in one or more of the following: Strategic Planning and Management (ASP), Project Management (PMI), Business Analysis (IIBA) and Enterprise Architecture (TOGAF). Each of these certifications leads their respective areas of discipline. Going through the training provided for each one will expose you to materials, knowledge and thought leaders that will give your career opportunities a substantial boost. Obtaining and keeping these certifications requires an ongoing commitment. Staying certified demonstrates to others your level of commitment to being among the best in the business.

Larger organizations provide amazingly rich platforms for working at and practicing the different disciplines that lead to being an effective strategic planner. The variety of challenges and problems that occur produce a rich environment for considering how tactical and strategic solutions can be applied to overcome them, and when to use both. Understanding how these complex living systems function and how their various parts interact is key to developing the insights necessary to succeed.

As your career progresses, seek more and more involvement in planning, whether it is department budgets, or planning and leading projects. Understanding the roles different levels of management have in planning will lead to deeper involvement as you prove your skills. Seeking leadership roles in higher and higher level strategic planning initiatives will help as well. Eventually, you may lead the strategic planning or strategic management team, or move on to Change Architecture, which is a natural extension of Strategic Planning and Management.

What’s exciting about work in strategic planning is seeing the broad view of a business while helping to create and execute successful long term plans, and the sense of value that comes from assisting large numbers of people to jointly reach shared goals. This occurs in organizations of all sizes. Job titles include Strategic Planning Manager, Chief Strategy Officer, Program Manager, Portfolio Director and Change Architect. These are all valuable and growing areas of management in organizations worldwide. Global firms present even more challenges generally rooted in the cultural aspects of managing strategy. If you wish to pursue a global career, mastering a second language and spending time in a culture to know it well is a sure way to both enhance your career and your life in general. Gaining a masters’ degree in Global Management is also a plus.

WD-40 Tribal Culture Creates Lasting Change

By Jeri Denniston, Denner Group International   January 28, 2014

Takeaways: How WD-40 created a tribal culture that focuses on SMART goals, living the company values, and sharing knowledge and expertise.

Book Review
Helping People Win at Work
by GaRry Ridge and Ken Blanchard,
2009 Polvera Publishing and Garry Ridge

Buy-Helping People Win at WorkThis book is a partnership between Blanchard and Ridge about leadership and management. It looks at business as a partnership between managers and staff to ensure everyone in the organization is doing their best to strive, learn, and be the best they can, all while living and acting the company’s core values. How a company gets there is the story Ridge tells of the processes he implemented at WD-40 around the philosophy of “Don’t Mark My Paper; Help Me Get an A”. The book is divided into four parts.

In Part One, Ridge describes the fundamentals of the performance review system he implemented at WD-40, which is organized around Planning and Execution and Review and Learning. Planning involves setting SMART goals and executing them according to company values. SMART stands for Specific, Motivational, Attainable, Relevant, and Trackable.

In Part Two, Ridge describes the culture changes that had to occur before the performance review system could be revamped. A big part of that was to ask his people to view themselves as members of a Tribe rather than a Team. Tribal members share their knowledge and folklore with younger, newer members. That’s an important value at WD-40.

In Part Three, Ridge shares his viewpoints on leadership and motivating people and how those developed. In this area he describes his expectations of others and what they can expect of him. Servant leadership is a big part of his personal value system.

In Part Four, Blanchard shares the 12 “Simple Truths” he and his colleagues have learned over the years that are crucial to helping people succeed at their work. These include day-to-day coaching, reprimanding with candor, building trust, and accentuating the positive rather than the negative in both coaching and performance reviews.

The book is filled with great nuggets of wisdom and includes samples of the WD-40 Goal Review Form and how it is used. The company’s success is a testament to how well this system works. Headquartered in San Diego, they employ just under 400 people, market their products in 188 countries, and recorded sales of $368.5 million in fiscal year 2013. WD-40 projects to generate $383 million to $398 million for fiscal year 2014. Learn more about their values and culture here.
Buy the book.

Managing Change for Every Type of Organization

By Eric A Denniston, Managing Director, Denner Group International   November 2013

Takeaways: An overview of managing change. What small organizations can do to leverage related skills. Three tips for applying some best practices for any size organization.\

How has your business changed recently, or how do you expect it to change in the near future? All businesses, large and small eventually undergo a major change and this is much more common and sometimes seemingly constant. They are also often undergoing small changes on a regular basis. Employee turnover, rapid adjustments in local market conditions, disasters, new market players disrupting the playing field and shifts in leadership are all common causes of organizations undergoing change.

Managing any organization has always involved managing change, large or tiny, whether it is a manufacturing or professional services enterprise, a non-profit, a school or a government entity. What has occurred over the past 50 years, particularly influenced by the continually increasing sharing of all types of information, is not necessarily that things are changing more or faster. It is really that we are able to predict and create or control change more effectively. We now have more timely information within our reach.

Paradigm Shift in management techniques

This paradigm shift has produced new techniques in management which are now generally referred to as Change Management. A number of individuals, mostly executives at large companies, are credited with leading the development of these techniques. They in turn, have generously credited various other people, employees, consultants and academics, who have greatly contributed to those development efforts. Significantly, those techniques are being widely shared as the thought leaders in management write books and give speeches, and consultants take those “best practices” to their clients.

Perhaps the most common issue I encounter is that small businesses, non-profits and even medium-size companies feel it is beyond them to even consider learning about and using these techniques. I also find that some very forward-thinking small enterprises, eagerly adopt many of these techniques and their level of success is exponentially greater than that of the ones that say “we are too small for that”.

What can an organization of any size do to acquire some of that knowledge or expertise and effectively apply it in their organization? A great first step is to accept that managing change must become a proactive behavior in leading an organization or a team of people. Learning to think about the organization in the context of the whole environment in which it exists is the next most valuable step a manager can take. This is part of what is called Systems or Strategic Thinking.

Additionally, following are some key concepts that, again, any organization, can use to help manage change more effectively:

  • Continually scan the FUTURE environment of your organization by considering how each of your stakeholders will be affecting the organization at a defined point in time in the future. Document what you come up with when discussing this with your colleagues and use the results to define the changes you feel will be needed. Be sure to also document the outcomes that you desire from those changes and make sure you have agreement among those of you responsible for implementing the change.
  • Create a clear plan for the change. Think of it as a discreet project but one that will affect other parties. Then list the parties that will be affected and decide how you will inform or involve them in making sure the change occurs and sticks. Also have a plan for how you will coach your direct reports about how they can assist in making the change happen.
  • Make sure you link your desired outcomes to measures that will help you track your progress toward those outcomes and document your quick successes, as these will help to maintain excitement about the change and its positive effects.

Essentially, stay focused on the fact that you will be moving from your current state to a future state. You need to manage the transition between the two and if you don’t make sure the people affected by the change are involved from the beginning and coached through the process, you are not likely to create a successful, lasting change and achieve the outcomes you desire.

Enterprise Strategy Management Best Practices: Using software tools

By Eric Denniston, Denner Group International – April 2013 (Lead – Think – Plan – Act)

Takeaways: Criteria for an integrated enterprise strategy management tool. Using a software tool for greater success and higher performance in tracking, managing and executing strategic initiatives. Reinforcing the importance of linking strategic tasks and cascading projects up and down the organization. Leveraging buy-in and stay-in with a flexible and scalable shared communications resource.

What tools do you use to track and control your strategic objectives? Are they doing the job you want and need? Every organization must constantly revisit its progress and performance on satisfactorily completing its strategic objectives. Depending on the size of the business, one or more people are responsible for creating, overseeing and shepherding this process. This is more compelling perhaps to larger organizations, due to the need to coordinate larger numbers of employees and numerous teams whose projects are often interconnected. However, even small firms need to be disciplined about measuring progress. Many different software tools are typically employed in this effort, starting with simple documents, spreadsheets, meeting minutes and, very likely, project management files. Enterprise strategy management best practices, however, suggest the need for software tools to facilitate the tracking of strategic initiatives.

Often these tools lack the integration necessary to achieve the most critical desired outcomes for the use of these tools. Perhaps you will agree that those most critical goals include:
1) document goals and processes,
2) track progress, and
3) share information

Might you also agree that using these software tools intends to achieve some secondary objectives? These might be some shared behaviors and practices in using the tools, creating a greater understanding of roles in supporting the strategies, linking projects and sub-projects to better track “soft” measures, and aligning tactical, or short-term, objective with the longer-term strategic initiatives.

All the above goals are then subjected to benchmarks and measures to help managers track progress and make adjustments as necessary. Only now we have to ask ourselves: How do we use these tools in a manner that really fulfills these three primary goals?

The likely answer is that we can document the goals, and possibly articulate the processes to track progress and share information, but does that really achieve what we need? Usually it does not.  The bigger challenges are the difficulties in:
•    driving and maintaining alignment,
•    sharing information,
•    improving accountability,
•    fostering efficiency, and
•    enhancing transparency for your stakeholders

Without an integrated tool that brings all this together, these are frequently overlooked or only partially addressed.

Linking initiatives

There are two key issues to address on linking initiatives. One is to create the links up and down the organizational levels and cross-functionally between departments and divisions by identifying which ones need to collaborate on each initiative. The next one is to create the structures, or processes such as reports or meetings, to support the feedback needed to keep people informed in an efficient and timely manner. This is one of the biggest challenges for those responsible for keeping strategies on track. The value in accomplishing this effectively is the resulting ability to react more nimbly to necessary adjustments and do the fine tuning that can really impact performance and therefore the bottom line. Keeping the information flow timely from the bottom up and from the top down and across functions is one of the most powerful accomplishments managers seek in driving strategies.

Best practices in the strategic planning process call for documenting these linkages. And it is a really tough challenge to track and manage them. You might recall the reports and Excel files mentioned earlier which present a challenge in keeping them updated when many individuals and departments are involved. What we want is to create and deliver reports in a timely fashion. Most tools fall short in supporting this in a simple and seamless manner which is so critical for helping everyone perform at the high level desired. Let’s explore what might make an integrated software tool for this valuable.

One tool that links strategies and projects really well is Y-Change.

Criteria for an integrated tool

It should be multi-user. It should support the needs of all management levels to access the level of detail that each requires. It should support existing tools, such as spreadsheets and other digital materials and data. It should support the specific structures and processes your organization has for managing strategic and tactical goals. And it should improve productivity and accountability. I have evaluated three such tools and from my perspective one tool that links strategies and projects really well is called Y-Change: an Enterprise Strategy Management solution.

I have used the Y-Change Enterprise Strategy Management suite, and really like the fact that it is structured to accommodate my systems thinking focus on strategic management. It is the software platform within which those who are accountable for creating, managing, measuring, monitoring, guiding and adjusting strategic and tactical objectives in an organization are better able to perform those duties. Having a multi-user application like this to manage the various levels of accountability within strategic initiatives, and being able to link tasks across projects and strategies, is most helpful in performing quick reviews and obtaining status updates. In addition, the tool makes it possible to link to other data files from other applications that contain more detailed information. Sometimes this means simply opening a file from another application to review the data, and in some cases, actually import that data into Y-Change.

From within the application I can launch email messages to individuals and groups to keep people informed of progress, or lack of it, focus on specific initiatives, request feedback and relate to the measures everyone agreed to. This means a quicker response time to adjustments in the related tasks.

Perhaps of greater relevance to upper level management, the strategic initiatives can have their interconnected actions linked across two or more core strategies, providing both a documented and visual cascade of actions and accountabilities down and up through the organization.  How people support the organization’s broader strategic objectives can also now be incorporated into performance reviews much more easily.

Maintain a culture of strategic focus

This is a great help in preventing actions, good and bad, from being overlooked, and in uncovering mistakes and diversions from the strategic objectives in real time. It is an ongoing challenge for those responsible for driving strategy in an organization to maintain a culture of strategic focus combined with operational flexibility to sustain high performance. This tool excels in helping do just that. The tool allows for customized views for different levels of management which provide either detailed or summarized views of performance. With this feature, managers at all levels are better able to measure, track, manage and adjust their and their team’s work toward the organization’s key objectives. In addition, this tool supports the cross-functional collaboration required to really sustain a high level of strategic and tactical performance.

Linking the various initiatives further supports the management of business unit portfolios and projects. The integration of the shared objectives provides transparency in the review and reporting processes needed.

The Y-Change Enterprise Strategy Management tool is uniquely suited to helping the organization’s leaders and teams create buy-in to the shared vision and support stay-in. The tool provides easy access to key and current pieces of information and reinforcement of vital concepts, like the vision, mission and values of the organization. This shared resource also provides controlled universal access to data by adjusting permissions access levels and limiting the capability to edit data as appropriate.

In essence, the Y-Change Enterprise Strategy Management tool helps to raise organizational competitiveness by helping employees at all levels become and stay engaged in the shared organizational vision. It helps them stay focused on those tasks and actions they need to accomplish that will more effectively reach the desired objectives. This means higher productivity, lower costs, faster communication, plus greater transparency and accountability.

If you would like to learn more about this tool or request a demonstration please contact me at eric@dennergroup.com.

About the author: Eric Denniston has a background of 30 years business planning and strategic management consulting on an international level. Working with non-profit and for-profit organizations, he has worked with leaders on corporate governance, leadership development, business planning, and strategic management challenges. He has also trained sales development and technical teams. His business planning activities include global businesses, resort, hotel and residential development and international healthcare projects. A native of Mexico he is fluent in both English and Spanish.
Email: eric@dennergroup.com – Website: dennergroup.com.

Gender Diversity – Moving Women into the C-Suite

By Jeri T Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International     6-26-2012

Takeaways:  More men think women C-suite managers make a positive difference in a company’s financial success. Yet 80% of companies surveyed have not made gender diversity a strategic issue.

Larger companies are more likely to take action to achieve gender diversity than smaller ones – especially if it’s a top three agenda item. According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, three key actions have a marked influence on gender diversity:

  1. The CEO visibly monitors women executives
  2. The company has skill-building programs specifically for women
  3. Senior executives are mandated to mentor junior women

Interestingly, regional differences also are evident in approaches to recruiting, retaining, promoting and developing women employees. Companies in China are more likely to use hard measures, such as gender quotas, whereas those in Asia-Pacific and North America are more likely to use flexible measures, such as flexible working conditions or mandated mentoring by senior executives.

Who thinks women matter?

According to the survey, the number of respondents who see a direct connection between diverse leadership teams and financial success, increased by 12 percent since the 2011 survey. Notably, it reflects an increase in the number of men who think women matter. And in companies where diversity is a priority, there are greater numbers of C-Suite women in the ranks.

“Globally, more than 80 percent of respondents say that since the financial crisis began, there has been no change in their companies’ view of gender diversity as a strategic issue, regardless of that view; this figure seems at odds with the rise in the past year in the share of those who believe that companies with more women leaders perform better.” ~ McKinsey Quarterly

Click here to read the full article