If you want to achieve dramatic change in mindset and behavior, the fastest way is through provocation. By provocation, I mean deliberately evoking a visceral emotional response in others. There is nothing wrong with provocation if you do it right. It’s just that, as a leader, you ought to be provocative, but never a provocateur—the two are not the same.
While I sometimes hear CEOs complain about their lack of authority in a matrix organization, the most successful CEOs I know never do. They have all mastered the matrix, wield tremendous authority, and influence their own and the business’s advantage despite the ambiguities inherent to a matrix organization. If you are the CEO of a Japanese operation of a global company, work within a matrix organization, and you feel your authority is stymied, think again. You just might have far more power and authority than you realize, if you know how to wield these right.
The success of any business rarely depends on any key manager or executive. It is only the mistaken belief in the indispensability of an executive that masks and suppresses the talent of others. Your leadership bench is often hiding in plain sight.
All strategic plans are perfect on paper in a theoretical static world. However, no strategic plan ever survives confrontation with the ever-changing realities of business and your perception of them. A robust strategy is one that can adapt rapidly to change in the environment as well as to change in your understanding of that environment. Below are three behaviors and practices for robust strategy common to my most successful clients.
The scarcest resource in a business today is not talent, money, or technical ability, but rather independent thought and the courage to act on it.
Exceptions are “exceptional” by definition, and always exist no matter how rare. Just because research in organizational change shows a strong correlation between certain factors of success and failure does not make these axiomatic. My most successful clients make themselves the success exception, and you can too.
In my experience, I have never seen any dramatic change of any significance gain widespread cross-organizational enthusiasm before implementation, but have often seen such change succeed nonetheless despite lack of initial buy-in. So I advise that action first, buy-in later works, as long a you do things right. There is no need to delay change to seek buy-in.
The only data you need are those needed for making a decision. Yet in my experience, much data reported to head offices are rarely needed or used. At one point an individual datum might have been important for some kind of decision which is why its collection was mandated. Years later though, few people can remember what important decision that was.
A highly successful Japanese CEO I know who had just taken a new role leading a deeply troubled company in Japan asked me, “What are the top three things I need to do to turn around a business?”
“There’s only one,” I told him. “You need to be brutally honest.”