Leadership. A leader can lead a leader to water but it doesn`t make it a horse. A good metaphor has got to have legs, and it can certainly help to paint a picture, but that can too often turn out to be a Picasso – abstract? Probably!
I think about this whilst reflecting upon a recent strategy seminar where I/we attempted to roll out the central region business plan which linked into the UK organisations broader goals. And in doing so my intention was to paint a picture of where we needed to be heading and the port from which we would set sail on our journey of discovery and development.
Ports, pictures, horses and journeys – `I must try harder` to avoid clichés!
Strategy need not be complicated or difficult to set out, to advise and chart, so everyone involved (in what ever capacity) can easily follow and pick up on their own input for the ongoing development.
For my part the launch seminar was set up with the best intentions with the right balance of input from a great supporting cast, including Safety, Commercial, HR, Recruitment, procurement, regional GMs and UK senior management/directorate. However many things can get lost in translation, not least the basics of the exercise!
As we corporate types tend to fall into the trap of Powerpoint security and comfort presentations, many presentations can become long-winded and packed out with fluff through fear of not having enough to say. We all want to appear on top of our game and credible – a fantastic fear of looking daft seems to dominate in such circumstances. Cognitive NLP?!
On reflection my view is that the strategy seminar was well-intentioned but maybe had a tendency to allow itself to drift into corporate dullness (in parts) and perhaps lost the audience attention on more than one occasion.
Now, nobody is perfect and I feel it was well worth the effort (one has to start somewhere) but I`d like to think that I have learned a few things and next time will do things slightly differently – for the better and for the enjoyment of the audience.
Let`s not forget we must be interesting, engaging and create the right atmosphere to avoid creeping cynicism. People talk – and, it would seem, txt – during seminars and it’s not what you say so much as how you make people feel. And I want to make individuals feel engaged and a significant part of the development process. I want them to own the ideas and take them forward because they want to, not because they are being paid to. Committment over compliance every time.
For me the five key points I wanted to get across for engagement with the first stage of the evolving strategy process are best conveyed as follows:
Taking quality as the key indicator to all aspects of delivery, the success of the organisation will be achieved by doing the right thing at the right time. By taking a no-nonsense approach to every issue within our direct control the organisation will secure efficient and affective operational delivery which is underpinned by robust commercial management and assured standards. Auditable systems and regular site review should be trended to supply real-time data utilised to evidence progress against (regional and client based) targets, and retain focus on excellence at all levels
How we are perceived and how we are viewed is subjective, however subjectivity is a reality which we must embrace. Clients base their perceptions of the organisation on the actions of our operators and in reality the actions of our cleaners will have more effect on how the client view the organisation than the promises and glossy support documents we promote ever will. A refreshed focus on how we manage our document controls, how we look and act at site along with our core values and beliefs will be challenged at every opportunity
To ensure our image at site and regionally reflects well on our clients choice of Cape as its support service contractor, our site team MUST create a feeling of well-being and continually manage our ongoing reputation
Everything we do now, and everything we continue to do in the future must be consistent and mirrored across the region. We must issue concise and accurate commercial records to both our clients and Cape. Reports and analysis must reflect overarching business drivers and communicated from the main board. If we do it once and we do it well, this must be repeated and improved upon, complacency and close site relationships must not get in the way of delivery and continuous improvement
No quick wins will ever take place of robust systems and processes that underpin and govern the organisation. Centrally the region must comply and be seen to comply with all legislative and CMS based protocols. What we do must be built on sold foundations and iterative to support the well-being of the central region for the long-term. Regular review and process audits must be undertaken at site`s and these will be supported and driven by senior regional management. Client review and development meetings MUST be structured to deliver tangible improvement that can be monitored, measured and trended to provide a continuous improvement model.
Strong focused charismatic leadership must motivate and encourage the support team to become integral to process. This is the primary mechanism for managed delivery of all specific strategic target and goals.
leadership must take the teams into the unknown and create a platform for them to work intelligently and independently of the governing process and protocols to allow them room and flexibility to produce tangible, sustainable evolution of their current operations and take the organisation into the future.
Inclusion is a primary function of any learning organisation and for all that was said and done at the opening seminar the governing principle of the event was to bring a diverse team of individuals together and foster a forum of cohesion and team work as we look to move forward to gether.
And, to borrow further from a former (great) leader and orator – Churchill “If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail” …
Going foreward the mechanics of the overarching UK strategy will be worked through with the regional teams with additional follow-up seminars put in place as a review and steering process to make sure – that as a team – we deliver the organisations broader expectations.
The learning from the first roll out will serve to develop the delivery format and avoid any mind numbing over runs. It’s good to talk – but not too much eh?!!
Anywho, it’s a bank holiday Sunday and the sun is out so I reckon I`ll crack-on with being a good father and go upset the kids for a bit!