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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week: The value of unstructured conversation.

But first…

It’s only two weeks until MOVE is released in Hardcover!

So I’m combining today’s Monday MOVE idea with a reminder of the contest to win a 6 hour 1-1 executive coaching program with me.

Pre-order MOVE before Feb 28

All you need to do is pre-order the Hardcopy or buy the kindle version before Feb 28, and send your receipt to movepreorder@gmail.com.

There will be 2 winners announced on Feb 28. You’ll have up to 1 year to use the 6 hours of coaching. I’m really excited to meet the winners!

Unstructured conversation

Many leaders avoid unstructured conversation because it might get messy. They prefer to say, “Here’s the strategy… Please submit your plans…”.

This feels safer than saying in an unstructured way, “Here is the strategy, what you do think? Really?” because the structured way cuts off the possibility that someone might say, “I disagree, or I have a problem with that”.

But here’s the problem…

If it’s the case that people are not supporting your strategy, wouldn’t you want to know?

Time, conversation and belief

You need to invest some time to allow your team to build their own belief in whatever you want them to do.

Belief and alignment cannot be achieved in an instant without talking about it.

Each person needs time to process the ideas and form their own point of view. They need the unstructured conversation in order establish their own way of believing in the strategy. They need to get their own opinions, thoughts, beliefs in line before they will be ready to move.

What you might not be able to see, is when you announce your new strategy you have already created a train-wreck! People need time to get their bearings again.

The unstructured conversation is what allows everyone to find their way back to the path — in their own way. You can’t force it. And if you skip this step, people won’t be able to execute on the new thing because their belief system is stuck somewhere else.

By avoiding potentially messy conversation up front what you have actually done is traded a false sense of order and harmony in the short term, for a slow moving catastrophe where people are not effectively set up to succeed in the long term.

Pre-Order MOVE and win a 1-1 Coaching Program with Me

MOVE will be available February 28, but if you pre-order your copy now you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a 6 hour executive coaching program with me. There will be TWO winners!

Click to pre-order and enter.

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I’m really excited to share the important ideas, and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team (at any organizational level) to execute your strategy more decisively.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.


About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Burn the Ships at the Beach


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week:

Burn the Ships at the Beach

Leading Transformation is Hard

One of my more challenging leadership assignments was to lead a transformation in a software development organization for how we developed products. It was a process improvement initiative.

As we got into it, people would tell me, “You are being stupid, you are killing our business, we’re going to lose our top people over this”, and I’d say, “I understand your frustration, but this is what we are doing, and I am committed to it. I promise you in the long run it will be good for the business, as we discussed at the beginning.”

I would go to my boss and say, this is really hard, everybody hates this, and they argue with me every day. And he would say to me, “Patty, you have to burn the ships at the beach”.

There is no turning back

He taught me that you have to make it very clear at the beginning of a difficult journey that there is no turning back

If you go back, there is nothing there for you. You can’t get back. The only way through is forward – Even though forward may appear threatening.

And he taught me that the way you “burn the ships at the beach” is to be completely consistent in your message and your decisions.

Don’t undermine yourself

There were so many times it was tempting to cave in to the pressure and go back to the old way. It takes Valor (V=Valor in my MOVE model) to not undermine your forward progress by making inconsistent decisions about it.

In the end the change we were driving worked. (The whole story is in the book)

Everything was better.

We began to deliver on time, the quality was higher, the product was more competitive, the customers were happier and the morale of the team skyrocketed — Because we finished our transformation and it paid off.

But it’s can be really hard as a leader along they way through the long Middle (M=Middle) when people are discouraged. You need to have the Valor to stick to it.

**The brief historical reference: 1519 AD, during the Spanish conquest of Mexico Hernán Cortés, the Spanish commander, scuttled his ships, so that his men would have to conquer or die, no matter how hard the mission became and how much they might have wanted to turn back. There was no turning back because the ships were gone. Forward was the only choice.

Read MOVE

I’m really excited to share examples of moving from Situation Discussions to Outcome Discussions and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team to execute your strategy more decisively — including building your own confidence and courage as a leader.

MOVE will be available in February, but you can download a free preview now or pre-order your copy now.
Click to download
Click to Pre-order
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What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Who else would like to see this?

If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Don’t forget about the Middle: The Monday MOVE Idea


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“The Monday MOVE Idea”

This Week: Don’t forget about the Middle

Tell me if you’ve been in this meeting…

The exciting kick-off

You’re at a strategic off-site to clarify your new strategy. You talk about the key, long-term things your business must invent, optimize, fix, change, or create. You use the words “game changing” and “innovative” when you talk about these ideas. You may have hired expensive consultants to create your new innovative and game changing strategy.

There is tremendous investment, effort, and energy that goes into the beginning of a new strategy.

Reaching the point of having defined and aligned on a new strategy seems like a huge achievement in itself – and it is.

But then, The Middle happens…

Everyone goes back to work.
Everyone stays busy on what they were already working on.
The new thing falls victim to the Middle.

The beginning is really clear and strong, with lots of investment, excitement and great intentions. And the end is really well defined. But the problem most strategies face is that there is no real plan for the middle – which is where everything needs to happen!

It’s vitally important to talk about the middle and to define what exactly needs to happen and how you will resource and measure it. Otherwise, everyone will just go back to work, thinking they have loads of time to reach the end point.

I’m really excited to share all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your organization through the vast, challenging expanse of the Middle where transformations happen (or don’t). Make sure yours does.

MOVE will be available in February, but you can download a free preview now.
Click to download
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What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Who else would like to see this?

If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

The reason for my absence in August…


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My New Book MOVE: Available March 1, 2017

MOVE: How Decisive Leaders Execute Strategy Despite Obstacles, Setbacks & Stalls

I’m very excited to share the news with you that my new book MOVE is being published by Wiley, and will be available March 1 !

Thank you for noticing

In late July I got the great news from Wiley, and a deadline for the final draft of September 1. Yikes!

In early September several of you contacted me and said, “Patty, I noticed your blog has been somewhat intermittent recently. What is happening?”

I have to say this:

It is truly an honor that you read my blog and follow my work, but it’s an amazing thing that you anticipate it and notice it when it is absent! And in August, no less!

THANK YOU!

What I learned about Ruthless Priorities

In August I set 3 Ruthless Priorities for myself.

1. Finish the book
2. Exercise every day
3. Practice speaking Italian every day

This deadline was a great experience for me to walk the talk. I always talk about Ruthless Priorities as being: the few things that you refuse to put at risk.

It’s not that you need to stop doing everything else entirely when you have Ruthless Priorities — it’s just that you tolerate some risk in those other things, so that you can fiercely protect the few things you have chosen to not put at risk.

So what happened?

1. I realized that there was finite amount of creative work and writing that I could do at any point in time. So the book got finished and my blog suffered.

2. I experienced running out of hours in the day for most of August, so my general responsiveness suffered a bit as well.

3. I had a trip to Italy planned before I got the deadline. I considered canceling it, as I was indeed being Ruthless about making sure I did not put the book at risk. But I decided that I would still go to Italy. I would work as much as I needed to — and if nothing else, eat well while I was there! And I could practice speaking Italian with some actual Italians.

And that’s what I did! I worked on the flights, and cancelled most of my sight-seeing and meet-ups with friends, but I still went.

And here is a picture from one evening when I got out of the apartment and worked in a more pleasing spot for awhile.

And you can take a peek at the table of contents!

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The result: I stuck to all of my Ruthless Priorities!
You noticed my absence online. Thank you again for noticing, and thank you for your patience.

And the book is finished!

MOVE: A fresh, practical, human perspective on business execution

I’m really excited about sharing MOVE with you as I have not seen this book out there, and it it’s full of really useful stuff.

I’ve led many transformations and turn arounds in my career, and I have helped many clients put their strategic intentions into action. And in doing so I’ve learned a lot along the way.

So much of what it takes to be successful is to understand that you can lead a transformation from the top, but you can’t DO a transformation from the top. You need EVERYBODY.

Transformations stall for many reasons, but the primary one is that it’s really hard!

It’s really hard to get a whole organization to stop doing what they are currently doing, and to start doing the new stuff that they need to be doing.

It’s just so much easier for everyone to stick to what they know. So your strategy stalls.
It’s not that people actively disagree, they just don’t get around to doing it!

So many organizations fail to do the things necessary to move their teams from talking about the new, exciting, hoped-for outcome in the future to DOING it — And not just starting it, but sticking to doing the new work over a long period of time.

The beginning is easy. Everyone is excited at the beginning. And the end seems easy. The goal at the end seems so clear and important that it’s hard to imagine not doing it.

But then…. there is the MIDDLE. And the middle is a LONG TIME…

“Are we still doing this?”

It’s hard enough for one person to keep doing something new and difficult for a long time, let alone a whole organization! So you need lots of tools keep your team going forward through the long Middle so that you can realize the value of your transformation.

Transformation does not happen without the element of time. And time is the enemy of action.

In the book I describe my MOVE model for putting a strategy into action in a very practical and doable way. Any manager can use MOVE to make sure the whole organization, at all levels, is ready, willing, and motivated to move the business forward.

You can pre-order!

I’ll be telling you more about MOVE over the next weeks and months, and also sharing some exciting pre-order promotions where you can get other stuff for early orders.

But if you can’t wait, you can pre-order your copy now using the links below (and still qualify for the extra stuff!)

Just make sure to hang on to your receipt so that you can take advantage of the pre-order benefits when I announce them soon.

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What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Was this useful?

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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

Too Busy to Scale


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Chaos doesn’t scale

When I work with CEO’s and general managers they often tell me about their plans to scale the business.

When I ask, “So how’s that going?”, it often leads to a conversation about how they are doing business today, and the fact that “this won’t scale”.

Me: So, why don’t you change the way you do business?

CEO: Because we don’t have enough time and resources.

Me:

The issue is that you are too busy being a $200 million dollar company to become a $1B company.

Companies get stuck

The thing that keeps most companies from scaling is that they try to keep doing everything that they started. It’s simply not possible to scale too many things.

This is common occurrence because early in the life of the company, you kind of have to do everything. You have to get the deals that you can get. You have to do things to support those deals that may not be part of a single coherent strategy. But you do them to get revenue and build momentum and confidence.

The problem happens when you reach a certain size where everyone in the company is working more than full time to simply hang on. You are accustomed to working really hard, and everything people are doing is focused on revenue, so it seems like you are doing the right thing.

But you are stuck.

You are stuck because there is not a moment left to do the things that will be required to scale. So you keep doing what you are doing — which is not scaling.

Let’s continue the conversation.

If not now, when?

CEO: We don’t have time or resources to build the infrastructure that is necessary to scale.

Me: When you are a $1B company, will you be doing [insert overwhelming function here, sales, support, pilots...] the same way you are doing it now?

CEO: Of course not, that would not work

Me: So at what point between now and then do you think you should implement this new, scaleable way? If it can’t be the same when you are at $1B, at what point do you need to build this new thing, that by definition will exist when you are at $1B?

No time for infrastructure

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this is easy. It’s not. But if you want to scale you need to start making some decisions about what you will be great at and what you will stop doing, or what you will do differently, so that you can make time to put in place the new processes or infrastructure necessary to enable scaling.

You need to start making some decisions about which area of scaling you will invest in first, and then make a realistic plan to do it.

Let me give you a specific example.

I was working with a company who had 2 infrastructure projects in their plan to enable scaling, and no one was working on them for more than a year.

As we worked together, I realized that there was one guy — One super-brilliant, super-knowledgeable, super-connected guy who had conceived of a new way to service customers that would be dramatically more efficient and scalable, and he was on the hook to implement that.

However, basically every five minutes the sales guys would call him to get on a plane and save the day — to close the deal, to fix the deal, to fix the post-sales issue…

This went on for more than a year, and there was no end in sight. Revenue and customer opportunities always won over implementing process and infrastructure necessary to scale.

This is an excellent example of being too busy to scale, and being too busy being a $200M company to become a $1B company — There is no way that they could acquire and service more customers. And there was no way that they could build the necessary infrastructure to scale. They were totally maxed out.

Choose and initiative and make a change

To follow through with this example, there were a couple of options.

1. Never go in alone. This guy couldn’t drop the VIP sales support role immediately, but he needed to clone himself. He needed to reduce the call load on himself.

I suggested that he never go by himself. Always bring another person that can learn and build relationships along the way, so over time you can delegate these emergency calls to others who have developed knowledge and earned the trust of the sales force.

2. Train the sales force to respect a more regular schedule. Instead of jumping on a plane every time the phone rings, I suggested that he publish a schedule for which week each month he would come to each region. This didn’t solve all the emergency requests of course, but the sales team got used to the idea that they could organize more visits to occur when he would be in the area anyway. This in itself was a good scaling idea.

3. Commit additional resources on the scaling initiative. Hoping that this one guy would just get it done was proving unrealistic. They had to make another organizational change to provide addition support to this initiative, instead of just hoping that it would happen as they had for the last year.

4. Put short and mid-term milestones in place for the strategic initiative.

This is really a key area of focus when I work with leadership teams to help them execute better on strategic initiatives.

Mid-term measures

The problem with actually making progress on strategic initiatives is that even if you can make some room to invest in scaling, the next big problem is how to get your organization to stay focused on something strategic long enough to finish it.

Even though everyone can agree on the important outcome that needs to be true a year from now, it’s really hard to get people to start doing — and stick to doing — something new and strategic — outside their habitual day jobs.

Inspiring end goals are easy to agree on. But the problem is that after that agreement is reached, everyone goes back to work thinking, “Well we have a year, so this week I don’t need to change what I’m doing… There’s plenty of time.”

After a couple of weeks, the emergencies assert themselves as more important and everyone reaches an unspoken agreement that this strategic, infrastructure, scaling stuff is less important, and they stop worrying about it.

But if you can put hard measures in — at the beginning — for things to be accomplished each month in order to hit that 1-year goal, then everyone leaves the meeting thinking, “Oh crap, I need to make progress on this in the next two weeks if I’m going to meet that measure.”

I can tell you, forcing your team to put hard, short and mid-term measures in place for scaling initiatives is the magic key to getting people not just doing their day-jobs, but following through on those strategic initiatives necessary to scale.

Contact me, if you’d like to talk about this. It’s what I do.

What do you think?

What choices to you make that make your happier and more successful?
Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Was this useful?

If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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