In science the key question is “Is it true?” In management the key question is “Does it work?” But context is critical: Just because an idea works in a particular case does not mean it is a universal truth.
If you set a stretch goal, make sure that the organization has some stretch in it, or it will break. To execute a strategy, you need a dashboard covering a wide range of performance indicators. If you treat those indicators as your strategic goals, be very sure that what you are asking for is what you want, because it is what you will get. Your business needs a value proposition for employees as much as it needs one for customers. In developing one, think hard about what “talent” means for you and do not forget that the real challenge is building an organization that enables average people to deliver an above-average performance. Develop good leaders, but do not neglect the skills of management, for no-one can perform if they do not have the right resources in the right place at the right time. Reduce bureaucracy to a minimum, but make sure you have enough structure to distribute decision rights in a rational way and enough process to enable people to know how the organization will work. To deal with external unpredictability, you need internal predictability.
Ambitions, targets, talent, leadership, and culture are all important. But in each case, make sure that you’re using them rather than letting them use you.
Author: Stephen Bungay
Source: “Harvard Business Review”
Subjects: Best Practices, Management
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