The Levers of Leadership
Every leader has three essential levers they can pull to create the right outcomes for their enterprise: Strategy, Organization, and Talent. Here’s how we see each:
Strategy means making choices about the markets and customers to be served, the products or services to be delivered, and the competitive advantage to be built. We believe everything begins with a statement of that strategy—the combination of precise long-term objectives and a compelling customer value proposition. The right strategy will advance the march toward a vision, and set the course for building an effective organization.
Unlike a table, or a house, or a car, organizations are invisible. Designing a material object is a matter of understanding its intended purpose, defining some design criteria, and building the object that fulfills those criteria. Organizations are essentially a set of agreements among people on how they will work both independently and together to create differentiated customer value worth marketing. Their blueprints are capabilities; their machinery structural groupings; their operating manual a system of management. Designing a good one takes both art and science.
Placing the right person in the right role is the most essential element of any organization. But few are born knowing what to do in a particular job, especially as a leader of others. We believe a leader’s development must be continuous, adapting to the living, changing system for which they are responsible. Since it is impossible to be truly objective about one’s self, it may help to have someone mentor, advise, and at times mediate to break bad habits, establish good ones, and create healthy environments where people can do their best work.
We believe that organizational value is created by connecting aspiration and execution. This system begins with Mission and ends with Talent.
Value creation system
Why we exist
A mission is a statement of purpose. It defines who you are and endures over time. Fulfilling the mission is the ultimate aspiration of an organization’s work.
What we want to become
Vision conveys a vivid image of a compelling long-term goal. President Kennedy provided the benchmark for vision statements in 1961: “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” Clear, concise, and a call to collective action.
What we stand for
A company’s core values are those shared principles that define its culture and bind its people together in their ideas, decisions, and actions.
Where and how we will win
Strategy is the binding agent between aspiration and execution that determines which markets, what offering, and how to differentiate.
An organization’s capabilities are its set of differentiating competencies that enable the achievement of strategy.
The right system
This is the living system that must build the capabilities that deliver the strategy to reach the vision and fulfill the mission.
The right people
This is what matters most in any organizational system. The right group of individuals comes together to perform in a way that expresses their values, manifests their capabilities, and creates tangible value for the firm, its customers and its stakeholders.
Keys to Success
As living and dynamic systems, organizations cannot easily be designed and operated according to a mechanical blueprint. We believe in designing in context for culture.
context and culture
It is sometimes helpful to take a look at how other companies do something. If you are a global consumer products company, for example, it may be good to know how P&G or UniLever have structured their organizations. But such benchmarks only suggest how those firms solved their own problems—they don’t address yours. What are your mission (why you exist), vision (what you want to become), and strategy (where and how you will win in the markets you choose)? These and other dynamics determine the context—the unique set of circumstances that comprise your particular environment and setting. The foundation of context is culture—the manifestation of the shared core values, practices, and behaviors that the organization both has and would like to have. Often we think of culture as ‘the way things are here’ and in so doing may regard it as static and fixed. But culture, both social and organizational, is in reality fluid and evolving. It changes over time as people join, stay, and leave. If we fully understand context and account for culture, then we can build organizations that are truly fit for purpose.