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10-04-19

HOW VALIANT UNLEASHED THE ACCELERATING POWER OF ALIGNMENT

VALIANT

Valiant Integrated Services (www.OneValiant.com) provides mission-critical services to the U.S. Department of Defense and intelligence communities, including our Joint Forces commands, the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and coalition forces and has over 5,000 employees in over 20 countries across the globe.

Valiant was launched in February 2017 and certainly qualifies as a fast-lane company: they grew from zero to over $700M in fifteen months!

To build a company this fast, the executives had to quickly come together as One Team.

Valiant’s impressive growth was fueled by three strategic acquisitions. In May 2017, they acquired selected assets of the Defense & Government Services business of the Supreme Group. In June 2017, they acquired ABM Government Services, and in May 2018, they acquired Cubic Global Defense Services.

While the press releases call them acquisitions, Valiant thinks of them as mergers. As Jim Jaska, Valiant’s CEO explained, “You acquire groceries. You merge people.”

For Valiant, alignment means blending three companies, with three different cultures, different brands, and different values into One Company. Of course, this starts with molding the executives into One Team.

There is a big difference between a group of executives and an executive team.

Groups of executives sit in the same room and present PowerPoint slides to each other. But people just pretend to listen and are probably checking email.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams have a shared vision, common goals, high accountability, and demonstrate a “we before me” attitude.

To help develop your executives into One Team, consider four factors: decisions, outputs, outcomes, and shared rewards.

  • Decisions are the unique things that your executives decide as a team. In some companies, this list is actually quite small, since most of the decisions are made by individual executives without bringing the issue to the entire executive team.
  • Outputs are the unique deliverables produced by your executives as a team. These include things like corporate strategy documents, annual budgets, or company goals.
  • Outcomes are the unique results that your executive team is responsible for delivering as a team. These include things like corporate financial results, increasing shareholder value, or improving overall employee engagement.
  • Shared rewards are the percentage of incentive compensation that executives earn as a team. At Valiant, each division is run by a Chief Operating Officer. To incentivize cross-divisional cooperation, 70 percent of each COO’s incentive compensation is tied to corporate, not divisional, performance.

While Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have been together for six decades, Valiant’s executive team had to come together in six quarters. Jim Jaska has worked hard to make this happen, “When vision, objectives, and plans are shared, everyone works together to the benefit of the organization and the client.”

Do your company’s executives operate as a group or a team?

10-03-19

HOW BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY UNLEASHED THE ACCELERATING POWER OF ALIGNMENT

BERKSHIREBerkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) is a multinational conglomerate holding company that owns 63 companies, from Acme Brick to the XTRA Corporation. The diversity of industries where they compete includes candy confectionery, retail, railroad, home furnishings, airlines, publishing, manufacturing, real estate, utilities, and more.

This eclectic mix of businesses is held together by One amazing Team.

Warren Buffett met Charlie Munger in 1959.

They have been business partners for six decades and have created billions in corporate and personal wealth.

"We've had so much fun in our partnership over the years," Buffett told CNBC in a joint interview with Munger, who called the partnership "almost hilarious, it's been so much fun."

Munger added they "don't agree totally on everything, and yet we're quite respectful of one another."

Buffett quipped that when they do disagree, Charlie says, “Well, you'll end up agreeing with me because you're smart and I'm right.”

(I tried using this line with my wife, but it did not go over very well!)

Jim Collins made “getting the right people on the bus” part of the business lexicon. But the real issue is aligning all the bus drivers to work as One Team … driving in One Direction. Fragmentation and infighting among the leadership team is one of the most caustic problems an organization can face. Yet, it is far too common.

Teamwork, alignment, and trust start at the top. The organization is never more aligned than the executive team.

But addressing executive team alignment issues will take courage. Skeletons will have to come out of the closet. Dysfunctional interpersonal relationships will need an intervention. People will have to address the conflicts they have been avoiding.

Someone will have to tell the emperor that he—or she—has no clothes.

Unfortunately, most executive teams never really deal with their misalignment issues.

Why? Because executives are afraid to speak their minds. Their need for self-preservation kicks in.

We see this all the time. We can tell that executives are holding something back. We can see their discomfort with the discussion or the decision that is about to be made. Yet, they are afraid to speak up.

Google just did a fascinating study about teams. They concluded that “psychological safety” was a key component of high-performance teams. It is this psychological safety that creates the environment for executive teams to have vigorous and candid debates about the company.

Psychological safety is the prerequisite to candor. And candor is the key to productive debates.

Creating psychological safety starts at the top. CEOs must create an environment where candor is valued, and opinions can be expressed without retribution.

How does your company’s executive team resolve conflict?

10-01-19

HOW ALAN MULALLY UNLEASHED THE ACCELERATING POWER OF ALIGNMENT

FORD
 
Alan Mulally was the CEO of Ford (NYSE: F) from September 2006 to June 2014.
 
During his tenure, Mulally led a highly successful alignment initiative called ONE FORD.
 
Perhaps more than any other exemplar we studied, the ONE FORD plan embodied the Drive One Direction mindset. That is why it is our first One.
 
Besides, what better way to start the exemplars than with a car company that is driving in One Direction!
 
Mulally’s turnaround of Ford is now legendary. Business “Hall of Fame” legendary.
 
The ONE FORD plan had several components that were so simple that Mulally had them printed on the back of business cards he would hand out. Here’s what they said:
 
ONE TEAM: People working together as a lean, global enterprise for automotive leadership, as measured by: Customer, Employee, Dealer, Investor, Supplier, Union/Council, and Community Satisfaction.
 
ONE PLAN: Aggressively restructure to operate profitably at the current demand and changing model mix; Accelerate development of new products our customers want and value; Finance our plan and improve our balance sheet; Work together effectively as one team.
 
ONE GOAL: An exciting viable Ford delivering profitable growth for all.
 
In addition, Mulally created sixteen “expected behaviors” that formed the basis of the cultural transformation. (This list is available in my book, Drive One Direction.)
 
Mulally also instituted a new management process known as the Business Plan Review. Every Thursday, Ford’s entire global leadership team was required to attend. This provided a very practical and hands-on way for Mulally to add management discipline to the ONE FORD plan.
 
“The expected behaviors and the Business Plan Review created the culture and management system to align everyone around a compelling vision, a comprehensive strategy, and a relentless implementation plan” said Mulally. “Everyone knew the plan, the status against that plan, and all the areas that needed special attention. Everyone was working together to change the reds to yellows to greens.”
 
In 2014, FORTUNE magazine named Mulally the third best leader in the world, following Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
 
The ONE FORD plan produced amazing results. During Mulally’s tenure, Ford rebounded from a $12.7 billion loss in 2006 to a $6.3 billion pre-tax profit in 2014. The stock price roughly doubled during his 8 years as CEO and rose an astonishing 1,640 percent from the low during the financial crisis.
 
Does your executive team work as One Team?
09-17-19

TEAMWORK:  THE FOUNDATION OF ALIGNMENT

shutterstock_145471609 (1)

A lot has been written about teamwork.

Teamwork is the foundation of alignment.

But many people have never been on a high-performance team, thus they do not have a real framework or experience base to work from. They don’t really know what “team” means.

In addition, there are many kinds of teams:

A crew team is a homogeneous group. Each member has a virtually identical build and an identical skill-set. There is only One Team, and they must work in perfect harmony in order to win. They are all—quite literally—in the same boat!

A golf team is a loose collection of individuals, all playing their own games. The team wins if enough people win their individual matches. However, it is possible for an individual player to win the individual trophy, yet have their team lose the match.

An improvisational jazz band is a different kind of team altogether. There is no conductor, no playbook, no scoreboard, no trophy, no match to win or lose, and no coxswain to keep everyone synchronized. Yet, the musicians demonstrate amazing teamwork.

A football team is a highly interdependent group of diverse players. Each player has very specialized skills. While there are sub-teams—offense, defense, and special teams—there is only one winner at end of the game. They win or lose as a team.

In 2015, retired General Stanley McChrystal discussed the complexity of sub-teams in his book, Team of Teams. In many companies, the real issue is that people are aligned with their “sub-team” but are not aligned with the other teams or with corporate.

  • The Boston office is tight, but they don’t get along with the New York office.
  • The marketing team is tight, but they don’t get along with sales.
  • The corporate finance team is tight, but they don’t get along with the divisions.
  • The European team is tight, but they don’t get along with the Americans.
  • The Democrats are tight, but they don’t get along with the Republicans.

People tend to get along with their immediate group. Their function. Their local office. Their clan. Their tribe. But they fight with people who are not part of their group.

So, as you embark on the journey to improve alignment, perhaps you should start by answering One Simple Question, “What does ‘team’ mean?”

Learn more about creating One Team

09-10-19

HOW DOES YOUR OPERATING MODEL IMPACT ALIGNMENT?

LinkedIn-Post_WhichfactorCompanies operate in many ways. Some are highly centralized, others are highly decentralized.

Your corporate operating model is a key factor in deciding how to create alignment.

The following list is not meant to be exhaustive but can help you articulate your operating model.

The “One Business” Company

  • Company competes primarily in One Market
  • Most likely, the company is organized functionally (sales, marketing, manufacturing, etc.)
  • Most likely, there is One P&L

The Highly Centralized Corporation

  • Big, strong corporate headquarters
  • Most of the big decisions are made at corporate
  • Divisions are partially autonomous
  • Alignment is primarily created “top-down” by corporate

The Multidivisional Corporation

  • Strong corporate headquarters and strong divisions
  • Division leaders are General Managers
  • An even balance of power between corporate and divisions
  • Cross-divisional alignment is created by corporate

The Federation

  • Moderately strong corporate headquarters
  • Autonomous divisions, often led by Presidents
  • Only a small amount of “top-down” corporate-level alignment
  • Alignment is primarily created at the divisional level
  • Small focus on cross-divisional alignment

The Conglomeration – A Company of Companies

  • Small corporate headquarters
  • Company Presidents are highly autonomous
  • Alignment is primarily created at the operating company level
  • Little or no focus on cross-company alignment

The Association

  • Corporate has very little power
  • Members choose to affiliate—or not
  • Members pay to be a part of the association
  • Corporate has limited decision authority, and primarily exists to serve the members
  • Alignment is often around a common agenda

The Denomination

  • Many different operating models
  • Some have very strong corporate-driven alignment … others have very little
  • Always bound together by One Doctrine and/or One Tradition

The Abomination

  • If your company is in this category, you definitely need my upcoming book, Drive One Direction!

What is your company’s operating model?

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment, because Alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage™.  Contact us at start@shiftpoints.com or www.shiftpoints.com.

06-04-19

Debate, Decide and Align

BussesOne of the most dysfunctional and destructive organizational pathologies is undermining, especially at executive levels.

Unfortunately, we see this all the time. 

Issues are discussed at the executive meeting.  Alternatives are debated.  And eventually, a decision about the best course of action is made.

Far too often, what happens next is that executives who did not get their way undermine the decision.  Sometimes, their undermining is overt, blatant, and public such as when executives say, “They made a dumb decision.” 

Most of the time, however, the undermining is much more covert.  Whispering at the watercooler.  Backstabbing in the bathroom.  Sniping at Starbucks.

This kind of behavior, especially at executive levels, must never be tolerated.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams debate, decide, and align.  Once a decision is made, everyone aligns behind it, even it if wasn’t their preferred course of action.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment, because ... 

Alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage™.

www.shiftpoints.com

05-21-19

WHAT DOES TEAM MEAN?

jazz band

A lot has been written about teamwork.

Teamwork is the foundation of alignment.

But many people have never been on a high-performance team, thus they do not have a real framework or experience base to work from. They don’t really know what “team” means.

In addition, there are many kinds of teams:

A crew team is a homogeneous group. Each member has a virtually identical build and an identical skill-set. There is only One Team, and they must work in perfect harmony in order to win. They are all—quite literally—in the same boat!

A golf team is a loose collection of individuals, all playing their own games. The team wins if enough people win their individual matches. However, it is possible for an individual player to win the individual trophy, yet have their team lose the match.

An improvisational jazz band is a different kind of team altogether. There is no conductor, no playbook, no scoreboard, no trophy, no match to win or lose, and no coxswain to keep everyone synchronized. Yet, the musicians demonstrate amazing teamwork.

A football team is a highly interdependent group of diverse players. Each player has very specialized skills. While there are sub-teams—offense, defense, and special teams—there is only one winner at end of the game. They win or lose as a team.

In 2015, retired General Stanley McChrystal discussed the complexity of sub-teams in his book, Team of Teams. In many companies, the real issue is that people are aligned with their “sub-team” but are not aligned with the other teams or with corporate.

  • The Boston office is tight, but they don’t get along with the New York office.
  • The marketing team is tight, but they don’t get along with sales.
  • The corporate finance team is tight, but they don’t get along with the divisions.
  • The European team is tight, but they don’t get along with the Americans.
  • The Democrats are tight, but they don’t get along with the Republicans.

People tend to get along with their immediate group. Their function. Their local office. Their clan. Their tribe. But they fight with people who are not part of their group.

So, as you embark on the journey to improve alignment, perhaps you should start by answering One Simple Question, “What does ‘team’ mean?”

Learn more about creating One Team

05-14-19

HOW YOUR OPERATING MODEL IMPACTS ALIGNMENT

BlueprintCompanies operate in many ways. Some are highly centralized, others are highly decentralized.

Your corporate operating model is a key factor in deciding how to create alignment.

The following list is not meant to be exhaustive but can help you articulate your operating model.

The “One Business” Company

  • Company competes primarily in One Market
  • Most likely, the company is organized functionally (sales, marketing, manufacturing, etc.)
  • Most likely, there is One P&L

 

The Highly Centralized Corporation

  • Big, strong corporate headquarters
  • Most of the big decisions are made at corporate
  • Divisions are partially autonomous
  • Alignment is primarily created “top-down” by corporate

 

The Multidivisional Corporation

  • Strong corporate headquarters and strong divisions
  • Division leaders are General Managers
  • An even balance of power between corporate and divisions
  • Cross-divisional alignment is created by corporate

 

The Federation

  • Moderately strong corporate headquarters
  • Autonomous divisions, often led by Presidents
  • Only a small amount of “top-down” corporate-level alignment
  • Alignment is primarily created at the divisional level
  • Small focus on cross-divisional alignment

 

The Conglomeration – A Company of Companies

  • Small corporate headquarters
  • Company Presidents are highly autonomous
  • Alignment is primarily created at the operating company level
  • Little or no focus on cross-company alignment

 

The Association

  • Corporate has very little power
  • Members choose to affiliate—or not
  • Members pay to be a part of the association
  • Corporate has limited decision authority, and primarily exists to serve the members
  • Alignment is often around a common agenda

 

The Denomination

  • Many different operating models
  • Some have very strong corporate-driven alignment … others have very little
  • Always bound together by One Doctrine and/or One Tradition

 

The Abomination

  • If your company is in this category, you definitely need my upcoming book, Drive One Direction!

 

What is your company’s operating model?

 

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment, because

Alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage™.

Contact us at start@shiftpoints.com or www.shiftpoints.com.

04-04-18

A LEADER WORTH FOLLOWING

This past weekend, millions of people around the world celebrated Easter.  They went to church to worship Jesus and pledged their allegiance as followers. 

To millions, He is a leader worth following.

So, how about you?  Are you a leader worth following?

Leaders, by definition, have followers.  The question for you to consider is why they are following.

Are they following because they have to?  After all, you’re the boss. 

Or, are they following because they want to?  Because they believe in you and your vision.  Because they believe that your strategy is the right one.  Because they believe that you know the way.

So, perhaps it is time for you to take a long, hard look in the mirror.  Ask yourself, “Am I a leader worth following?”

I’m sorry to say that many leaders—if they are honest with themselves—should conclude that the answer to that question is, “No.”

SHIFTPOINTS has worked with almost one hundred companies and thousands of leaders.  I’m sorry to say that we have seen many toxic leaders.  I’m also distraught that many toxic leaders have risen to the highest levels of government, industry, and even churches.

These toxic leaders would dramatically improve performance and morale if they simply resigned. 

Conversely, we have also worked with many exceptional leaders who are, in fact, leaders worth following. 

Leaders worth following are servant leaders.  They lead with humility and inspire followership. 

And the best leaders—just like Jesus—build high-performance leadership teams.

Most people know that Jesus had twelve disciples.  They were a most unusual bunch, perhaps the most unlikely leadership team ever assembled.  None of these guys would have ever passed the initial resume screening of an executive search firm.

Leadership experience… nope.  Advanced degrees… nope.  Professional certifications… nope.

Yet Jesus chose these ordinary guys anyway.  He transformed them into an extraordinary leadership team. And then He left.

They went on to change the world.  All but one gave their life for the cause.  By almost any measure, you can argue that they were indeed the world’s greatest leadership team.

SHIFTPOINTS develops high-performance executive teams – because you can’t win without one.

 

04-17-17

#12:  THE DISCIPLINE OF INSPIRATION

Good executive teams manage the business.  Great executive teams lead the business. 

But world-class executive team inspire the business.

For me, Holy Week is always the most inspiring week of the year.

And it was a good reminder of how important it is for executive teams to inspire. 

I think it is too easy for executive teams to get caught up in goals, plans, KPIs, and ops reviews, and lose sight of their ultimate responsibility.

Which is to inspire your company.

In addition, far too many executive teams have money as their ultimate definition of success.  It has been said that money is an excellent servant, but a terrible master.

Making money is a good thing.  Shareholders expect a return, and employees expect a paycheck.

But your company needs a higher purpose.  Your company needs to make the world a better place.  Your vision needs to articulate these things in an inspiring way.

Virtually every company has a mission, vision, and values.  Candidly, most are the kind of corporate blah-blah-blah that everyone tunes out.

So, my challenge to executive teams is to write a corporate purpose statement.  A corporate purpose statement answers a very simple question.

Why do you exist?

And, if you want to inspire your team, the answer better not be, “to make money.”

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.