Leaders never have all the data


Implementing or Studying

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: Leaders never have all the data.

Are you implementing your strategy or studying it?

I was working with a CEO and his executive team on their strategy when we came to an interesting point in the day about their business needing a game-changing initiative. They had three good choices.

But they didn’t make a choice. They chose “further study”.

“Why not decide right now?” I asked.

The team had entered this meeting wanting to get aligned on their strategy and come out with clear actions to implement it. Now they were going off for more study.

So, I asked,

What will you learn in 3 weeks that you don’t know today? How likely is it that the additional data you will learn will make you choose something different than you would choose today?”

Leaders never have all the data

So they decided. They picked one. Instead of leaving the meeting with a bunch of tasks to study three choices, right there in the meeting we worked on the action plan to get one of them started.

Think about how much time this team saved. Without a decision, multiple people would have left the room with a task to study for three weeks. That would have created a 3 week delay in their day job, AND a 3 week delay in starting work on the new strategy. Instead they chose to MOVE forward. They left with productive tasks to make actual progress.

You are allowed to decide!

Ask, “What will be materially different after more study?”

By all means, if there is knowable data, go find it. But if you’ve exhausted the knowable data, stop studying! Start moving something forward and learn as you go.

Pre-Order MOVE and win a 6 Hour 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.

Move thumb

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. Click to download a preview

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 non-secret to revenue growth and innovation



This month’s webinar was on Optimizing Revenue Growth and Innovation.

I was joined by business and sales strategy expert, Resa Pearson who talked about how to grow sales, and fuel innovation by involving your best sales people. This was such an important and valuable conversation!

If you missed it, you can download the podcast!

Optimizing Revenue Growth
This is a useful webinar to download if you need:

  • Your marketing team to have a bigger impact
  • Your sales force to sell more, and have a stronger, more consistent message to your customers
  • To improve your C-level customer experience, and the value they see in your offers
  • To Increase innovation in your product development efforts

Follow your best sales people

I really can’t do justice to Resa’s ideas in this summary! You should listen to the interview.

In our discussion, Resa delivered the rocket fuel so many companies are missing in their go to market activities and investments.

She asked, “When you launch a product and the results are not what you hoped, how do you determine what the problem is??

The answer is not obvious. If it were obvious, your launch team would have caught it. The answer is subtle. But the answer is not a secret. Your best sales people can tell you, and they can lead you to success in your market.

Listening to sales

Resa talked about how it’s hard for companies to listen to sales, because the input is scattered and anecdotal. And often there is a skepticism or a distrust of sales, who are thought to be too short-sighted to warrant an important strategic conversation.

But she also talked about how…

the most important strategic conversations are happening every day, out in the field with your customers

…and if you don’t find a way to tap into this, you miss the hightest quality, and most potentially transforming information you can feed into your strategy.

How to do it

Resa gave some excellent, concrete examples of how you can structure the conversation with sales, test the ideas with clients, and tune your product strategy and launch plans to be a more exact fit with what customers will be motivated to buy.

I was listening to her thinking, “That is bullet proof!”.

She noted, that yes…

It’s like a hidden secret that is just sitting there right out in the open!

Go to the edges

Resa closed by encouraging all of us to go to Sales to tell us about the edges of our corporate world, the seam that connects our business to that of our customers. They see it first and they often want it most. Listen to them and you can accelerate both your innovation and your transformation.

What the webinar covers

This webinar covers how to grow sales, and fuel innovation by involving your best sales people

Resa talked about:

  • The important concept of “the marshes” and how the most transformation happens at the edges of your business
  • She covered how to:

  • Optimize your marketing and sales investments to generate more revenue
  • Create truly compelling sales tools to “clone your best sales people”
  • Create a repeatable process to get the right customer insights into your business
  • Use you best sales people’s customer conversations to drive innovation

Special Q&A Segment

This special interview-webinar did not have worksheets, but the complete webinar package includes the podcast of the interview and also the podcast of a fascinating Q&A with Resa where she talked about:

  • How to apply this process in your organizations
  • How to create a “sales playbook” to get all of your reps selling like the superstars
  • How to drive the adoption of sales enablement tools throughout the sales force when they are overwhelmed wiht stuff

About Resa Pearson

Resa Pearson is an experienced sales and marketing strategist. She runs a a consulting practice working with large technology and B2B market leaders at the board and executive staff level.

Resa has a unique ability to work with a business to find the most important strategic contexts to drive success in a given market situation
…and then apply that insight by creating high value tools and programs that drive real change.

Her company, Pearson & Co., develops contextual selling tools like sales playbooks and campaigns, and content marketing programs that are considered best in class.

Get the webinar now

Free Download

If you are a member of Azzarello Group, you can download the webinar for free.

Purchase

If you are not a member, you can: purchase this webinar,

or you can become a member and get the webinar for free..

If you are tempted to purchase this webinar, that’s great.

But you might want to consider getting a membership to Azzarello Group — it’s a much better deal.

With a membership, for just $179 for a whole year, you can get access to everything in the member library.

BECOME A MEMBER NOW

As a member, just around this topic alone, you can also get additional webinars for free on:

  • Good Strategy, Bad Strategy (Interview with Dr. Richard Rumelt)
  • Leading Business Transformation
  • Is Your Strategy Any Good?(Interview with Robert Kaplan)
  • Succeeding with Virtual and Remote Teams
  • Developing Strategic Habits
  • So you might as well join and get them all for free!

    Additional benefits for members

    Take a look through the Member Library and see all the other great webinars and resources you get too.

    Plus, as a member, you get live coaching from me in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls where you can ask your own questions.

    Membership a great resource (and a steal at $179 for a whole year) to help you advance your career.

    Become a Member

    BECOME A MEMBER NOW

    Other Options:
    Purchase only this webinar with the interview and Q&A podcasts
    Purchase just the interview podcast


    ABOUT PATTY:

    patty blog image
    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.

    Rise_CVR_3D_300

    Free eBook Download

    3 ideas to greatly improve your business plan


    3 strategy ideas              

    As we begin the calendar year, I have received many questions about strategic business planning and how to make it more effective.

    I have found myself repeating the same ideas, so I decided to collect them in a blog post, as well as create bundle of expert webinars on the topic. (more info below)

    I have had the opportunity to interview 3 remarkable experts on strategy. Each of them has left me with one BIG IDEA that has changed the way I think about strategic planning, and has improved every strategic plan I have done or advised clients on ever since.

    The Three Big Ideas:

    1. Disconnect strategic planning from the budget process

    2. Make sure your plan describes what you will DO

    3. Focus: Be right or wrong, but not confused!

    1. Disconnect Strategic Planning from the Budget Process

    thumb-kaplan

    Bob Kaplan, Former McKinsey Director

    In my interview with Bob Kaplan, one of the key ideas he discussed is how most strategies are doomed from the start by being connected to the annual budget process – because the money always wins.

    Strategy and financial planning require different skills, timelines, and different measures of success. Strategy is creative. Financial Planning is operational. Organizations are more practiced at financial planning. Creative, strategic planning is less familiar and more uncomfortable.

    You must separate the two streams of work, or you will get a plan that looks very much like last year’s plan, and your strategic ideas will be constrained by how much extra money you have in the current budget.

    When connected to the numbers, your plan will be, almost by definition, absent any real strategic thinking.

    Bob made several other important points about data, process and innovation. You can hear them all in the interview.

    My Key Learning:

    Deliver your numbers on the planned schedule as you must, and then run a strategic planning exercise completely separately, on a different calendar. This is the only way your strategic plan will every be strategic.

    If you are thinking, “But we can’t go back and surprise the board or executive committee and ask for something different after we give them our operating plan”, think about it this way…

    If you have a big customer leave you, or a competitor makes a dramatic move (or the market crashes)– you will need to go back to the board with reactive re-work of your operating plan anyway.

    So why not come up with a brilliant forward-looking strategy and associated investment plan? Then go back to the board and say, “We’d like to talk about a new investment outside our existing operating plan.

    2. Good strategy is about what you are DOING

    Dr. Richard Rumelt, Author, Speaker and Strategy Consultant
    richard rumelt

    Bad Strategy: (The Big Idea)

    It was very exciting to get a chance to interview Dr. Richard Rumelt, because I absolutely loved his book Good Strategy/Bad Strategy.

    In his book and in our interview, there was a key, breakthrough idea for me:

    The problem in most companies is not merely the lack of a Good Strategy, it’s that there is an active Bad Strategy in its place.

    Bad strategy often takes the form of talking. Talking about big ambitions and vague goals that no one knows how to achieve — using high-sounding words like “growth” and “shareholder value”, or “retain the best talent” or “maintain a culture of innovation”.

    This makes Bad Strategy because these things don’t tell you what to DO. It’s Bad Strategy because it’s like a quarterback saying, “Let’s win”.

    He connected the dots for me so directly by stating simply that Good Strategy is about what you are DOING.

    Strategy must answer “how are we going to solve the most significant barrier to forward progress?”

    Dr. Rumelt talked about many instances of Bad Strategy that are important to avoid, and gave great ideas for putting Good Strategy in place. Listen to the complete interview for more of his ideas on Bad and Good Strategy.

    My key learning:

    When I now look at a strategy I ask two simple questions:

    1. Does this describe what we will DO and how we will measure it?

    2. Does this identify the obstacles we must overcome?

    If not, it’s a bad strategy. Go back to the table, and focus the strategic discussion on these two questions.

    An example: Strategy to lose weight

    Here’s a non-business example that helps define the right kind answers to these important questions:

    Many people also start the new year with the ambition to lose weight and become more fit. So if you state your strategy in these terms: I want to lose 20 pounds in 3 months by better diet and exercise. That is a bad strategy.

    Why, because it doesn’t say specifically what you will DO and state what problems you will overcome. To turn this into a good strategy ask and answer:

    1. What will I do?

    • I will eat [these specific foods], and not eat [these specific foods]
    • I will exercise on [this specific schedule]

    (better, but not good strategy yet)

    2. What problems will I need to overcome and how?

    • When I travel I will overcome the exercise/time issue by doing…
    • When I travel I will overcome the food choice issue by doing…
    • When I get stressed I will overcome my tendency to eat too much of the wrong things by doing…
    • I will deal with getting discouraged and bored with this by creating [this specific motivation and support]
    • (Now you’ve got a good strategy.)

    To test your business strategy simply ask these two questions.

    1. Does it define simply, what will we do specifically?

    2. Does it state what obstacles will we overcome and how?

    3. Focus: Be right or wrong, but not confused!

    25verified_t607

    Jim Davis, CEO and technology executive (and long time mentor of mine) taught me that to lead a strategy you must focus.

    You can’t let your organization get overwhelmed by trying to do too many things.  Make sure your strategy prioritizes a few key things — and them get them done! 

    This requires strength as a leader because not everyone will be happy with what you choose to focus on. People will argue. But these will be the noisy few. 

    Most people just want to succeed at something, and will be happy with the clear focus. Don’t waiver. 

    The focus is more actually more important than picking the exact, correct three things. Just get something done. Jim also made some great points about process, communication, and developing people.

    Listen to the complete interview to hear more ideas on clarifying strategy and getting it executed.

    My key learning:

    People really do like to get things done!

    I’ve turned what I learned from Jim into my concept of Ruthless Priorities.

    Pick one strategic thing and actually finish it. Ruthless priorities are the things you refuse to put at risk. It’s not as though you do nothing else at all, you just choose to make sure these very few things are not at risk and that they get done.

    Focus and getting things done builds credibility and momentum in the organization.

    The more your organization gets experience at finishing things, the more motivated they will be, and the more effective they will be at executing strategy.

    But as a leader you need to have a thick skin to decide and stick to it — and support the people trying to do the right thing when short term pressures tempt you off course.

    Get these 3 complete interviews, plus a bonus!

    Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 4.54.53 PM

    ORDER NOW

    Strategic Planning Webinar Bundle (get a 50% discount in January!)

    Includes:
    1. Richard Rumelt’s Interview: Good Strategy/Bad Strategy (mp3 download)
    2. Bob Kaplan’s Interview: Is Your Strategy any Good? (mp3 download)
    3. Jim Davis’s Interview: Leading and Managing (mp3 download)
    4. And as a bonus, my Webinar on Ruthless Priorities and Strategy (mp3 download plus worksheets and templates)

    This is a $50 value for $24.99

    Order this package now to make sure your business strategy will have enough impact.

    Order the Strategic Planning Package Now

    Note: Members of Azzarello Group can download all these interviews and webinar for free from the Member Library.

    Learn about Membership.

    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 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.

    Rise_CVR_3D_300

    Free eBook Download

    How Ruthless Priorities Drive Strategy


    Every month I do a webinar on a topic of business leadership
    as part of my membership program.

    This month’s webinar was on Ruthless Priorities & Strategy.
    (Get invited to future webinars)

    If you missed it, you can download the podcast!

    Free Download

    If you are a member of Azzarello Group, you can download the webinar for free.

    Purchase

    If you are not a member,
    you can: purchase the webinar, or
    Learn about membership.

    This is a good webinar to download if you:

    • Are on the hook to implement a key business strategy and want to reduce risk
    • Want to focus and motivate your team on the right critical tasks
    • Have struggled to define meaningful measures that ensure progress
    • Need a way to push back on non-strategic (but not-optional work)
    • Find yourself in bad meetings with too much talking vs. doing

    What makes strategies succeed?

    The main reason companies fail to execute their strategy is because they don’t effectively prioritize doing the right strategic stuff.

    In this webinar I shared things I have observed and learned both from my own organizations as well as the many client organizations I currently work with to effectively implement their strategy.

    All organizations have non-optional, annoying, and distracting work that comes both from internal pressures, and customer issues and demands.

    Successful execution is all about being realistic about what you have to do and what it will require, and also being realistic and prepared for all the stuff that tries to throw you off course.

    Focus and Accountability

    Many organizations fail to choose and measure the right things the right way. They choose things that are easy to measure vs. things that actually predict and ensure progress.

    We talked about how to understand and define the right mid-term measures, control points, and outcome-oriented measures that will move you forward and eliminate risk.

    Doing vs. Talking

    We also covered the common habits of poor communication, bad meetings, ineffective collaboration and unclear decision making that result in lots of unproductive talking. I shared some practical techniques to combat this “talking” and move your team into focused, active doing instead.

    Here’s what the webinar covers:

    How to stay focused on the key drivers of your strategy:

    • Define and budget time for the right Ruthless Priorities
    • Defend against urgent demands that pull you off course
    • Deal with inneffecitve collaboration (talking!) that stalls progress
    • Set the right measures that will ensure progress and reduce risk

    Worksheets included

    There are some great worksheets for this webinar which include:

    • Time & resource budgets for Ruthless Priorities and distractions
    • Tools to defend against non-strategic demands and time-wasters
    • Template for defining effective mid-term measures

    Get the webinar now

    If you are tempted to purchase this webinar, that’s great.

    But you might want to consider getting a membership to Azzarello Group — it’s a much better deal.

    With a membership, for just $179 for a whole year, you can get access to everything in the member library.

    BECOME A MEMBER NOW

    If you are a member, just on this topic alone, you can also get related webinars for free on:

    • Good Strategy, Bad Strategy (expert interview Dr. Richard Rumelt)
    • Negotiating Your Workload
    • Developing Strategic Habits
    • Is your Strategy And Good? (expert interview with Bob Kaplan)
    • Leading a High-perfoming Team

    .
    So you might as well join and get them all for free!

    Additional benefits for members

    Take a look through the Member Library and see all the other great webinars and resources you get too. For your membership fee of $179 you will be able to access everything in the Member Library for a full year!

    Plus you get live coaching from me in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls where you can ask your own questions.

    Membership a great resource (and a steal at $179) to help you advance your career.

    Become a Member

    BECOME A MEMBER NOW

    Other Options:

    Download the webinar with worksheets and templates
    Download just the podcast

    Will Your New Product Win in the Market?

    Every month I do a webinar on a topic of business leadership and personal effectiveness as part of my membership program for business leaders.

    This month’s webinar was on New Product Strategies to Grow Business.

    The live broadcast is always free an open to anyone. (Get invited to future webinars)

    Free Download

    If you are a member of Azzarello Group, you can download the webinar for free.

    Purchase

    If you are not a member,
    you can: purchase the webinar, or Learn about membership.

    This is a good webinar to download if you want to:

    • Learn best practices for reducing market risk in new product design and development
    • Learn how to have the right conversations for customer input (and avoid having the wrong ones)
    • Understand where your true competition is coming from
    • Tune your launch strategy so your products win in the market

    Interview with Beth Temple

    This webinar was a special interview with Beth Temple, an expert on New Product Strategies.

    Beth works with companies to build products and define business models across many industries. Some of her customers include: Target, Wells Fargo and HBO.

    Beth has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and CNNMoney and is the author of a report called The New Product Economy, which you can download for free.

    Beth shared some great insights and practical ideas about how to make sure that the new products you develop win in the market.

    Here’s what we talked about in the webinar:

    • Why so many new products fail and how to avoid it
    • The useful kind of paranoia for a company to have
    • Creating a more deliberate process for new products in your company
    • How to structure (or unstructure) conversations with customers
    • How to really fulfill your launch promises to your customers

    Winning with New Products

    To many products live and die in the conference room.

    Companies struggle to have the right conversations with customers, and fail to see their true competition when they get too wrapped up in their own brilliant ideas.

    Beth defined a process that puts more rigor into thinking about, investing in, designing, and launching new products — which helps companies avoid these typical failures.

    Your customers will tell you!

    Beth talked about the right and wrong way to get the real insights you need from customers and how make that part of your company’s culture and standard processes. She also talked about how to be more realistic about the resources required to get a new product right.

    Most new products fail because of either a lack of business fit or market fit, or as Beth commented, “drown in enthusiasm”, from having too many cooks in the kitchen.

    If you want to maximize your success and minimize your risk, you need to be learning the right things from the market, as well doing the right things internally.

    Get the webinar now

    If you are tempted to purchase this webinar, that’s great.

    But you might want to consider getting a membership to Azzarello Group –it’s a much better deal.

    With a membership, for just $179 for a whole year, you can get access to everything in the member library. JOIN NOW

    Just on this topic of Business Strategy alone, there are related webinars on:

    • Good Strategy, Bad Strategy
    • Will Your Strategy Succeed?
    • Build Enduring Value
    • Social Media Realities
    • Leading Change

    .
    So you might as well join and get them all for free!

    Additional benefits for members

    Take a look through the Member Library and see all the other great webinars and resources you get too. For your membership fee of just $179 (for a whole year! you will be able to access everything in the Member Library.

    Get Personal Coaching

    Plus you get live coaching from me in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls where you can ask your own questions.

    Support for Your Success

    Membership a great resource (and a steal at $179) to help you advance your career. Many members report raises and promotions, and cite lessons and support they specifically got from this program.

    Be more successful, and happier along the way. I’d love to help.

    Become a Member

    BECOME A MEMBER NOW

    Other Options:

    Download the podcast

    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 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.

    Rise_CVR_3D_300

    Free eBook Download