Change Implementation Techniques for Creating a Sense of Urgency

Technique 2.43 Questions that Executives Need to Answer

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An effective executive cannot be stereotyped, ie some are extroverts while others are introverts, some are easy-going while others are control-freaks, etc. To become more effective, an executive needs to consider the following:

. Select what has to be done in your section/department and prioritise those selected activities (Furthermore, list your selection criteria for prioritisation)

This involves selecting priorities and sticking to them. Ideally, concentrate on the top priority task, and upon its completion, review all priorities. For example, Jack Welch (ex CEO of GE) used to review his priority list every 5 years. Once he had selected the top task, he would delegate the other tasks.

. Check that your selected priorities are right for your organisation

This involves understanding all stakeholders' interests, ie suppliers, staff, other sections/departments in the organisation, customers, shareholders, etc and checking that your selection criteria are aligned with those of the organisation.

. Develop action plans for the selected priorities

Executives are doers - they execute. Remember: knowledge is useless until it is translated into deeds. Thus they need to plan, which involves thinking about desired results, problem restraints, future revisions, check-in points and ramifications. This involves answering the following questions

- What contributions should the organisation expect from me over the next 18 months to 2 years?

- What results will I commit to?

- With what deadlines?

- Is this course of action ethical?

- Is it acceptable within the organisation?

- Is it legal?

- Is it compatible with the mission, values and policies of the organisation?

Remember: affirmative answers don't guarantee that the action will be effective. But violating these restraints is certain to make it both wrong and ineffective. Furthermore, the action plan is flexible. It is a commitment that can be revised as required, ie as new opportunities arise. Furthermore, the action plan allows for checking results against expectations. Usually there 2 checks: halfway through the process and at the end of the period

Link the action plan with the executive's time management schedule

. For each activity in the action plan, include

- the name of the person accountable for carrying it out

- the deadline

- the names of people who will be affected by the decision and therefore have to know about, understand, and approve it - or at least not be strongly opposed to it

- the names of the people who have to be informed of the decision, even if they are not directly affected by it

- how often to review the action plan

It is important that all the above bases are covered. Furthermore, decisions need to be reviewed regularly and systematically so that if a decision needs to be changed, it can be. These reviews can cover anything from results to the assumptions underlying the decision. For example, studies on hiring or promoting decisions have shown that only 1/3 are likely to be successful. Allocating the best people to the right positions is crucial.

If the wrong decision was made, it needs to be rectified. Furthermore, decision-making should be delegated to the most appropriate level of the organisation. This is most important in knowledge-based organisations.

Remember: organisations are held together by information rather than by ownership or command. Each executive needs to identify the information he/she needs, ask for it and keep requesting it until it arrives

. Identify any opportunities that are available under 7 different types of situations that need to be scanned for

i) an unexpected success or failure in the organisation, by competitors or within the industry

ii) a gap between "what is" and "what could be" in a market process, product or service

iii) innovation in a process, product, service inside or outside the organisation or its industry

iv) changes in industry structure and market structure

v) demographic changes

vi) changes in mindset, values, perception, mood or meaning

vii) new knowledge or new technology

(source: Peter Drucker, 2004)

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