The inVision Edge

The inVision Edge | Navigate Innovate Activate

Category: Business Strategy (Navigate)

inVision CEO John Ferris guests on The Champion Entrepreneur

Posted by on February 29, 2016 9:07 am
TCEcover170x170

TCEcover170x170inVision Edge CEO John Ferris recently had the opportunity to sit down with host Anthony Lee Witt and share theinVision Edge story on The Champion Entrepreneur podcast. Learn about the philosophies and principles that have guided, and continue to shape, inVision from its founder.  Click here to listen.

 

 

 

 

 

inVision CEO John Ferris recently had the opportunity to sit down with host Anthony Lee Witt and share theinVision Edge story on The Champion Entrepreneur podcast. Learn about the philosophies and principles that have guided, and continue to shape, inVision from its founder.

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Learning to dance to the rhythm of accountability

Posted by on February 16, 2016 10:17 am
Dancing_Footprints

Prior to joining inVision, I had never participated in a strategic planning session. The 2015-16 session marked my second year (you can read about the process here). In a nutshell, during the session we develop the organization’s overall direction for the coming year. We develop objectives that address each goal, and action plans follow. Each team member takes a piece of the plan, putting their name on it and assuming responsibility for it. That doesn’t mean that it’s up to you alone to accomplish it; it means that you have ultimate ownership over that objective and responsibility to make sure it’s completed successfully.

We’ve talked in various blog posts about the importance of setting the rhythm of accountability as part of the strategic plan. Basically, the rhythm ensures that the plan is kept top of mind and doesn’t lose out to competing priorities during the year. During our monthly and quarterly meetings, we provide updates to our team members on our part of the plan. We put it all on the table – the milestones and challenges, the progress and delays.Dancing_Footprints

What happened during this month’s meeting was a first for me. Why, you ask? Because I had to let my team know that I hadn’t made any progress on my portion of our strategic plan. Talk about humbling. My other priorities (which we call the “daily whirlwind of activity”) had won out. I had let myself slip into that whirlwind, and it wasn’t until the days leading up to our monthly meeting that I realized that I hadn’t stepped out of it to focus on the strategic plan.

So with my admission out in the open, the time had come to step up and formulate a plan to get things back on track. I sat down with Wendy, my manager, to refocus and develop a clear set of actions to move the plan forward and hit the deadlines I had set for myself.

My point in all of this? In this case, our rhythm of accountability did exactly what it’s designed to do: it pulled me from the whirlwind, forced me to face the fact that I hadn’t made any progress on my plan, and motivated me to get back on track with actionable items I could start tackling right away. Sometimes it’s tough to stay on top of everything; but the key is to step back, assess the situation, and take action. My original deadlines are still in place; now, it’s a matter of refocusing and getting down to work. Lesson learned.

 

 

Prior to joining inVision, I had never participated in a strategic planning session. The 2015-16 session marked my second year (you can read about the process here). In a nutshell, during the session we develop the organization’s overall direction for the coming year. We develop objectives that address each goal, and action plans follow. Each team member takes a piece of the plan, putting their name on it and assuming responsibility for it. That doesn’t mean that it’s up to you alone to accomplish it; it means that you have ultimate ownership over that objective and responsibility to make sure it’s completed successfully.

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Execution is about LIVING the plan, not communicating it

Posted by on February 8, 2016 11:49 am

Too often, senior leaders start the year with a big town hall meeting to ‘present’ the organization’s strategic plan, if they share it at all.  They give a state of the union address and summarize the high level strategies and objectives. When the meeting is finished, executives feel good that they have shared the plan and everyone is now accountable for executing and attaining success. It sounds great, but it isn’t reality.

The truth is that the vast majority of employees leave those meetings more confused than when they arrived. The strategies are at such a high level that employees don’t know what they do to contribute, so many, while appreciative of the break from their day jobs, don’t leave the meeting engaged in driving the plan.

But what if we could change that? What if we could take those high level strategies and objectives and help people see how their roles contribute every day?  What if we could, in our regular interactions with employees, reinforce how they make a difference? That, my friends, is how we drive execution.

As an executive, I used to love the start of a new year. My favourite week to work was the one between Christmas and New Year’s as it gave me a lot of time to reflect and get ready for what was ahead. I would invest two days on setting the course for my team and determining how to drive execution of our strategic plan and key objectives. I know, it seems like a lot of time, but I have learned that investing the time up front makes life easier in the long run.

So…what did I do for those two days? It’s simple. I put myself in the shoes of my direct reports and figured out how their work contributed to the success of the plan, particularly those whose roles were further removed from the high level objectives being targeted.

An example: let’s say a company wanted to strategically improve its ability to retain and build existing customer relationships. They want to measure progress by showing a 10% improvement in their annual customer satisfaction scores year over year.

Of course we can see how those two elements link.  The question is, even if we communicate this to our teams, do they know what to do to get the 10% improvement? The answer is, not likely; particularly if they work in a function that is removed from customer service.

What if I’m the HR Leader? Without more conversation, it is easy for folks in indirect roles like this to disengage; customer service is someone else’s issue in the organization, not mine. If we want to achieve aggressive strategic plans, we need everyone in our organization working towards key objectives.

For some it is easy to see how they can impact the metric (ex. front line customer service staff), but for others, they need the link established for them. Let’s look at the HR Leader. By reducing hire times, and hiring for the right skills, the HR Leader can contribute to the customer service goal. Ongoing conversations help develop the direct link between what we are asking the leader to accomplish and the strategic plans for the organization.

Why do these conversations drive execution?

  • People want to work on things that matter.  If employees understand how the work they do contributes to the overall objective, they are more likely to engage and commit to reaching that result.
  • Objectives are measurable. Because we can measure progress, we can monitor progress. We can recognize strong performance and jump in quickly if things go off track.
  • Scope creep is minimized. Through the year, it is inevitable that employees will be asked to take on new projects.  Ongoing dialogue ensures a balance between strategic objectives and “day job” responsibilities.
  • Performance management becomes easier. Setting clear expectations at the beginning of the year means that we get commitment on the work to be done and we can better monitor progress throughout the year. We provide appropriate feedback early, leading to better communication and fewer surprises when it comes to coaching and year end reviews.

If you really want to get results, invest a bit of time in having regular conversations with your staff that makes the strategic plan real to them. I guarantee you the investment will pay off in spades and you will be that much closer to achieving your strategic plan.

 

Too often, senior leaders start the year with a big town hall meeting to ‘present’ the organization’s strategic plan, if they share it at all.  They give a state of the union address and summarize the high level strategies and objectives. When the meeting is finished, executives feel good that they have shared the plan and everyone is now accountable for executing and attaining success. It sounds great, but it isn’t reality.

The truth is that the vast majority of employees leave those meetings more confused than when they arrived. The strategies are at such a high level that employees don’t know what they do to contribute, so many, while appreciative of the break from their day jobs, don’t leave the meeting engaged in driving the plan.

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Relying on high performers to drive your strategy execution? Think again.

Posted by on January 26, 2016 9:51 am
goal speedometer

Leadership teams are under a lot of pressure to do more with less and get more impressive results with fewer resources. Traditionally, leadership creates a strategic plan, talks about the plans around the executive table, and relies on the people in their organizations to help reach the goals. Most organizations treat the performance management system as the driver to reach the strategic goals.

This article on LinkedIn reports that in “a public survey carried out by Deloitte, 58% of executives surveyed ‘believe that their current performance management approach drives neither employee engagement nor high performance’.” That’s crazy! If our leaders, the people responsible for driving organizational success, are not seeing tangible business results from an internal process – then why are they doing it?

My answer: Because we’ve been told that if we’re managing the performance of employees – making sure everyone is performing at the right level – then we should reach our organizational goals. If only it were that simple!

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that the right performance management system is an ingredient in creating a system that helps us measure an individual’s progress. However, when it comes to driving the achievement of the goals in an organizational strategic plan, relying solely on performance management to do it is not a sound approach. It’s about activating leaders to clearly articulate the plan and gain buy-in from the rest of the team. We can employ the highest performers in the industry, but if they don’t have radical clarity on “what’s” important and the “why” that drives organization, they’re not going to be doing the right “how”.

However, when we have a team of people operating at their highest level of talent, engagement, and passion, and then we ensure they’re aligned in strategy and direction, we get big results. We drive success and hit our strategic goals. From my experience, there are three key ingredients to executing and activating a strategic plan:goal speedometer

  1. Radical clarity. Be radically clear with your team on what the organization’s strategic goals are. Then be clear about what part of this plan their department is responsible for (assign accountability). Ask them: what goals and actions do we need to include to meet our responsibilities? For example: What actions are they personally responsible for to help their department to reach these goals?
  1. Learn how to coach. How often do you find yourself sitting face to face with your team member and you end up directing or “managing” rather than coaching? Here’s a quick way to tell which one you’re doing: Do a silent self-check in your meeting and ask yourself who’s doing most of the talking. If it’s you – chances are you’re managing or directing. Try asking more questions like “Tell me what you’d do in this situation?” and “What would you do differently next time?” or “What did you learn?” There are a lot of great coaching resources out there, but one of the best ways to learn is to be coached yourself. (Contact us to find out how we can help you by being your executive coach!).
  1. Create accountability. Now that you and your employees know what the expectations are and you feel confident in how to coach them, set up a rhythm of regular coaching sessions. These sessions create accountability to make sure goals stay on track. Here at inVision, we call it “rhythm of accountability”. Weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings make sure we’re on track to meet our results.

There is a time and a place for traditional performance management systems. But to be innovative, focused, and strategic you need more. The three steps I’ve outlined above can easily be implemented within any organization that has a clear strategic plan. If you don’t have a strategic plan or need help clarifying an existing one, let us know – we’d love to help! If you have some questions on how to execute on the steps above, give us a call – we’ll get you heading in the right direction before the call is over.

 

 

Leadership teams are under a lot of pressure to do more with less and get more impressive results with fewer resources. Traditionally, leadership creates a strategic plan, talks about the plans around the executive table, and relies on the people in their organizations to help reach the goals. Most organizations treat the performance management system as the driver to reach the strategic goals.

This article on LinkedIn reports that in “a public survey carried out by Deloitte, 58% of executives surveyed ‘believe that their current performance management approach drives neither employee engagement nor high performance’.” That’s crazy! If our leaders, the people responsible for driving organizational success, are not seeing tangible business results from an internal process – then why are they doing it?

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Future’s so bright, gotta wear shades

Posted by on January 20, 2016 8:49 am
Sunglasses

We have the best job in the world: we enable leaders and their organizations innovate and transform.

Through our work with so many amazing leaders and their companies, it has become clear that there are three key ingredients for sustained innovation and transformation:Sunglasses

  • Radical clarity of direction of your company and relentless execution towards a common purpose (Navigate)
  • A system that enables innovation with everyone, everywhere, every day (Innovate)
  • Aligned leadership so all are engaged and accountable (Activate)

When we see the great things that our clients are doing, it inspires us to do better and be better. We continue to focus on building our inVision Crew while bringing on board like-minded teammates who want to make a difference and do great things. We have worked together to craft our areas of focus and wanted to share them with you.

To continue to innovate and transform ourselves at inVision, we’ve chosen the following areas to focus on in 2016:

  • We will continue our quest to enable innovation and transformation by partnering with like-minded companies across Canada;
  • We will launch our brand new execution-focused website, which provides leaders and their teams with a way to track and execute on goals and actions that enable the rhythm of accountability;
  • We are developing a client/partner onboarding program and on-going communication approach to ensure we are 100% aligned to the innovation and transformation goals of our clients;
  • We are developing our very own facilitator training program to ensure that our clients receive the very best training on how to deliver immediate and sustained results.;
  • Innovation Engineering Labs will have numerous updates to assist our clients on their innovation journey.

It is an honour to partner with so many great companies and our entire team looks forward to what lies ahead. Here’s to another year of Doing Great Things! Now time to get those shades out…. and give us a shout if you want to learn more.

 

 

We have the best job in the world: we enable leaders and their organizations innovate and transform.

Through our work with so many amazing leaders and their companies, it has become clear that there are three key ingredients for sustained innovation and transformation:

  • Radical clarity of direction of your company and relentless execution towards a common purpose (Navigate)
  • A system that enables innovation with everyone, everywhere, every day (Innovate)
  • Aligned leadership so all are engaged and accountable (Activate)
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Strategy Navigation (Part 3): I fought the law and the law won

Posted by on October 23, 2015 1:30 am
Police-Badge

In the previous two posts in my Strategy Navigation series, I talked about the need to keep your strategic planning process as simple as possible and secondly to develop the rhythm of accountability – a regular groove for the execution of your plan. Now, we focus on the nuts and bolts of developing a strategic plan.

I’ve participated in countless strategy sessions and experienced many different systems; I have found that by far, the simplest and most effective model is the Law of 3s plan design.

Three overarching goals set the course for the organization over the next three years; under each goal, three objectives chart the course for the year. Team members create actions to achieve each objective, which in turn are aligned with the plan’s goals. Here’s the simple Law of 3’s design:

Law of 3s

The foundation of the model is the acknowledgement that at the end of the day organization, teams, and employees can’t do it all. We work best when we have an intense focus on a few things versus a watered down focus on many things. The Law of 3s structure forces an element of simplicity into the strategic planning process: if you break the Law of 3s, you’ll have too much on your plate and things just won’t get done.

It’s about clarity. The Law of 3s structure focuses and organizes the path to clarify what needs to get done and how it will get done. At a glance, the organization’s top priorities are clear. It’s simple yet effective, and we’ve applied it to corporate plans, team or departmental plans, and even personal planning with great success.

Remember: done is better than perfect. It won’t be perfect the first time you use the Law of 3s, but the more you use it, the better you get. It works. Combine the Law of 3s with a regular rhythm of accountability to bring your plan to life.

 

In the previous two posts in my Strategy Navigation series, I talked about the need to keep your strategic planning process as simple as possible and secondly to develop the rhythm of accountability – a regular groove for the execution of your plan. Now, we focus on the nuts and bolts of developing a strategic plan.

I’ve participated in countless strategy sessions and experienced many different systems; I have found that by far, the simplest and most effective model is the Law of 3s plan design.

Read More

Strategy Navigation (Part 2): Find the groove

Posted by on September 15, 2015 8:23 am
Sound Bar Graphic

Playing for years in a blues band has taught me that the rhythm is what holds it all together. It doesn’t matter how well we’re playing; if the rhythm is off, it all falls apart. Musicians will tell you that when they hit that “groove”, when they find that rhythm, magic happens.

Just like the band that needs to find that repeatable rhythm to put on a great show, an organization’s strategic plan needs a repeatable rhythm to drive execution. In business, a leader’s job is to create and sustain the beat that drives the plan forward.

Sound Bar Graphic
I believe this fully: a strategic plan without an execution plan is pointless. Don’t waste your time. We call this the rhythm of accountability, and it truly is the steady beat that drives execution. Think of the typical strategic planning process: it’s not uncommon for an executive team to spend 80% of its time on the creation of the plan and 20% on the execution of the plan. We reverse that: 80% of our focus is on establishing the rhythm of accountability that’s going to help leaders hold themselves accountable for the execution of the plan. That’s how important the rhythm of accountability is.

I know from experience, at least at the beginning, that it’s not easy to keep a steady focus on execution. Leaders constantly get sucked into the whirlwind of daily activity, and it gets tough to pull away to focus on the strategy that will drive the company forward.

We recommend the leaders determine what their rhythm will be to pull themselves from the whirlwind. There needs to be devoted time set aside specifically to focus on the execution of the plan. For example, establish a simple rhythm of a monthly one hour update of plan progress (no operational talk aloud) and a quarterly half day review about what’s working, what’s not, and where there needs to be course correction. Simple visual reporting is best. Remember, “done is better than perfect”.

You can determine you own rhythm, but better yet, empower your leadership team to determine the schedule that’s going to drive execution forward. Once this rhythm is established, you’ll see the “band’ come together and the magic happen.

This is a series of blog posts I’m writing about the important of strategy to business. My next post: The Law of 3’s.

Playing for years in a blues band has taught me that the rhythm is what holds it all together. It doesn’t matter how well we’re playing; if the rhythm is off, it all falls apart. Musicians will tell you that when they hit that “groove”, when they find that rhythm, magic happens.

Just like the band that needs to find that repeatable rhythm to put on a great show, an organization’s strategic plan needs a repeatable rhythm to drive execution. In business, a leader’s job is to create and sustain the beat that drives the plan forward.

Read More

Strategy Navigation (Part 1): Strategic planning? Keep it simple.

Posted by on August 14, 2015 8:26 am
Keep It Simple - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

How many times have you taken part in a “strategic planning” session? You know what I mean: off-sites, on-sites, change-the-world sessions, driven by hype, energy, and hard work. The development of the big, master plan that’s going to change the company and maybe the world. Then, the predictable happens. It sits on a shelf, or on your computer, and it’s never looked at again. Well that was productive. Sound familiar? Keep It Simple - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

Throughout my career, I’ve been involved in more of these sessions than I can count, and all with the same result… pretty much nothing to show for it.

This is why we created Navigation Edge.
Don’t get me wrong: a strategic plan is absolutely critical in setting the course of your company. The problem is that most of the time and energy is put into the development of the plan instead of the execution of the plan. Contrary to popular notion, a cohesive, focused, goal-driven strategic plan can be developed quickly (think a day). Once that plan is in place, it becomes all about execution and accountability — and that’s where the real magic happens.

Organizations need a simple framework to drive the planning process forward. The simpler the planning process, the faster you’ll be working on the plan, and the more effective it will be. It’s about taking the momentum created in the strategic planning process and maintaining it, using it to drive actions forward. Navigation Edge distills the process to five steps:

Step I: Determine your purpose. Your “Why.” – Why does your organization exist? Does your whole organization have a similar answer to this question or are they all different? Without this shared vision, competing ideas, goals, and objectives spread through an organization and stifles growth and innovation. Sharing a similar “Why” statement creates a shared vision of the organization’s goals and objectives and provides a strong foundation to build on.

Navigation Edge TM - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB CanadaStep II – Current State. Using a number of inVision’s Navigation Tools, organizations will have a clear understanding of the challenges they face, the opportunities ahead, and a clear process for how to drive ahead.

Step III – Law of 3’s Plan Design. inVision’s Strategy Design Process drives organizations to create their top three goals and objectives and then develop a set of actions that will drive change.

Step IV – Determine “Death Threats.” Identifying potential barriers that threaten the plan are what we call “Death Threats.” Recognizing and removing these barriers not only helps build confidence throughout the team but also gives the team greater chances of success.

Step V – Execution. Everyone who has a hand in executing the plan will be enabled using inVision’s Rhythm of Accountability Process. Using this process makes sure execution is consistent and doesn’t “fall off” due to competing priorities or fires of the week.

Keep your planning system simple and hit repeat annually. You’ll get smarter every time you complete a planning cycle, increasing your ability to execute. With that, success and results becomes predictable – and who wouldn’t get excited about that?

This is a series of blog posts I’m writing about the important of strategy to business. My next post: Find the Groove.

How many times have you taken part in a “strategic planning” session? You know what I mean: off-sites, on-sites, change-the-world sessions, driven by hype, energy, and hard work. The development of the big, master plan that’s going to change the company and maybe the world. Then, the predictable happens. It sits on a shelf, or on your computer, and it’s never looked at again. Well that was productive. Sound familiar?

Throughout my career, I’ve been involved in more of these sessions than I can count, and all with the same result… pretty much nothing to show for it.

This is why we created Navigation Edge.

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How to win again

Posted by on May 8, 2015 4:01 pm
The inVision Edge model - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

It’s simple, really.

At inVision, we believe that there are three main ingredients that hold the key to the success of any organization, regardless of size, industry, or location.

Ironically, there is a certain complexity in our simplified focus and each part requires a system to make it happen. Dr. W Edwards Deming boldly stated in his book The New Economics that 3% of all opportunity for improvement comes from the “shop floor” (or the office), while 97% of the opportunity comes from applying systems thinking to strategy, innovation, and how we work together.

How often do organizations make the mistake of focusing all of their energies on the 3% and miss the opportunity of the other 97%?
The inVision Edge model - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

To help the organizations we work with, we have distilled this down to our NAVIGATE – INNOVATE – ACTIVATE approach:

  • NAVIGATE a clear direction (a focus on strategy)
  • INNOVATE meaningfully unique ways to increase speed to market
  • ACTIVATE your organizations ability to win.

1. Navigate: To navigate its strategic course, all organizations need radical clarity of their “Why” (as Simon Sinek would say) – defined as a purpose, a reason to believe, and, in essence, why the organization exists. A solid and defined “why” aligns the organization to a common purpose.

Once the “why” has been established, the development and communication of goals, objectives, and actions follows. This trio supports the organization’s “why” and provides direction to employees on the steps they’ll need to take to help achieve the “why”.

With the strategic “game plan” in place, a conscious effort must be made throughout the organization to carve out the time needed to execute the plan. Leaders need to determine how often and how they will hold themselves accountable. We call this the “rhythm of accountability” and it is integral to the success of the plan.

2. Innovate: To grow a business, any business, there needs to be an ongoing focus on shipping new products or services that are “meaningfully unique”: Unique meaning different than what others are doing and meaningful meaning customer will pay more your products or services. We apply a systems view of innovation, infusing an organization’s culture and creating a never ending cycle of new products and/or services being brought to market. Taking a repeatable, systems approach to innovation takes innovation out the hands of a few and enables everyone in the organization to innovate and ensures a never-ending pipeline.

3. Activate: The leaders of the company need to learn how to win. Just like a head coach of a winning team, success starts and ends with leadership. The leader’s job is to set the direction (see “Navigate”, above). Of equal importance: the leadership needs to purposefully focus on creating a winning culture within their leaders. Define what it looks like to win, and ensure that the entire leadership team can trust each other and hold each other accountable. Actions speak louder than words: Leaders’ behaviors must be consistent with the culture and direction. If leaders aren’t on board, they need to leave.

It may seem simple, but it’s not easy. When a company focuses on these three areas, they win with measurable results, profitable growth, and an engaging culture — people, purpose, and profit aligned.

It’s simple, really.

At inVision, we believe that there are three main ingredients that hold the key to the success of any organization, regardless of size, industry, or location.

Ironically, there is a certain complexity in our simplified focus and each part requires a system to make it happen. Dr. W Edwards Deming boldly stated in his book The New Economics that 3% of all opportunity for improvement comes from the “shop floor” (or the office), while 97% of the opportunity comes from applying systems thinking to strategy, innovation, and how we work together.

How often do organizations make the mistake of focusing all of their energies on the 3% and miss the opportunity of the other 97%?

Read More
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