I am entering week three of my Tribal Leadership Intensive One class. I was not planning on blogging tonight, but the little mouse in my head will not stop running today! I enjoyed the class last night and many thoughts I would like to share went through my head. If you want to know my thoughts on building on long-term strategies, please read on!

First things first… Yippee, we had slides tonight (that was to make the trainers laugh if they drop by)! We spoke about many interesting things tonight such as our stereotypes and reputation. I never considered the stereotypes piece in my life but I work hard on the managing my reputation. My view on reputations is they are the actions people see you do consistently.

I often worked with distributed teams the last few years, which means I worked with many people that I never met in person. When working with teams in India, China, Egypt, Israel or anywhere else, I always made sure to treat everyone the same way, whether I was dealing with a junior or senior person. They always knew what to expect from me because I tried to make sure that my behavior with them was consistent and reliable.

I did the same kinds of things with the teams I led. I expected team members to arrive on time at team meetings because I was there on time. I tried never to pass judgments on people behind their back because I did not want the person standing in front of me begin to wonder what I said about them when they are not around.

To me, reputation is about what you do consistently – good or bad.

I am noticing some great things recently and I feel that I am starting to make some changes in my life. I had an interesting conversation with my manager at lunch today (Hi there, in case you drop by!). She is the person I presented the EARN boxes to as part of the first week homework. I noticed the following as we were talking:

  • I think she is starting to notice the effect the class is having on me.
  • I think she is genuinely happy that I am happy and I light up when I talk about the course.
  • I think she is starting to show interest in what we are learning.

I will start teaching her some of what we are learning on the Outcome-Assets-Behaviors worksheet later this week. I hope she can turn it into something fun and interesting for herself.

After the class last night, some of us stayed on the line and Ray was discussing his strategy. A point that he asked about was how to handle large strategies. The little mice in my head seemingly spent the night thinking about this because this morning I was full of thoughts on how to handle large strategies.

Disclaimer: I believe the strategy worksheet is a tool and you need to customize tools to suit your needs. These are my thoughts on the subject, use at your own risk. The trainers never discussed this in the course so feel free to adjust as you see fit to make it work for you.

Figure 1 below shows the basic strategy worksheet in a mindmap. To review, the basic idea is to define your measurable desired outcome, identify all the assets you have to achieve it. Then, look at your asset list and identify any missing assets you have as behaviors, finally identify all the behaviors or actions you need to take to carry out your strategy.

 

Figure 1 - Initial Strategy Worksheet

What you need to consider when building a strategy worksheet is the time box in which you want to create your outcome. If you are working on a short timeframe for your strategy (four to six weeks), you may not feel the need to create more than this before you start carrying it out. When creating a strategy for a longer timeframe (six months or more) though, you may want to consider using a different approach.

My approach would be creating a strategy to cover the entire outcome, review it and see what behaviors I can package as smaller strategies. To do this, when brainstorming your behaviors write each behavior on a piece of paper and lay all your papers on a table like in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: All behaviors spread on a table

Figure 2: All behaviors spread on a table

Once spread all your behaviors on the table, take a closer look at each of them and start grouping related behaviors together. The relationship can be a common topic or a set of actions that will give you a specific asset that you need. Figure 3 below shows the grouped behaviors. Now look at each of your behavior groupings and try to identify a measurable outcome for them. The basic idea is that instead of having a large six month strategy to have five or six smaller ones that will incrementally build up to your large goal.

Figure 3: Grouping related behaviors together

Figure 3: Grouping related behaviors together

Once you start building these mini strategies, your mindmap will start looking like figure 4 below. Your master strategy will still have an outcome and assets but the behaviors will be smaller bite size strategies. You may find this approach useful because the smaller strategies give you a way to measure consistently if you are on track to deliver on your long-term objective.

When using this approach, setting the right priorities becomes critical. You need to rank your strategies by importance in the list.  You also need to consider dependencies when setting priorities. For example, Strategy 2 may depend on Strategy 4 for a specific asset which means Strategy 4 becomes more important in the list.

Figure 4: A Master strategy with smaller strategies as behaviors

Figure 4: A Master strategy with smaller strategies as behaviors

Your priorities will also dictate where you need to spend more time up front to brainstorm your behaviors to exhaustion. If you will carry out a certain strategy three months from now, your initial brainstorm is a good enough guess until you get closer to working on it. Investing more time now may lead to work you will throw out later. Keep in mind carrying out some of your more important strategies first allows you to gain useful knowledge that will make it easier to brainstorm these behaviors later.

The layout shown in Figure 4 will help you understand your master strategy if you are carrying out the child strategies one after the other. I would strongly suggest you prioritize the behaviors for each child strategy so you are aware of what you need to work on next.

You may find there are times when you may want to carry out two child strategies in parallel. This can make setting priorities is more challenging but one way to handle this is to flatten your list of behaviors in an Excel spreadsheet and after rank them by priority. Figure 5 shows a prioritized list of behaviors where pieces of Child Strategy 2 need to happen before pieces of Child Strategy 1.

Figure 5: Flattened behaviors list in Excel

Figure 5: Flattened behaviors list in Excel

The master – child strategy model I just described is suitable for long-term projects. I can easily picture a company with a one-year strategy and quarterly child strategies that will help it incrementally build toward the overall goal. I would like to share another theory on master strategies that I believe is what the course is slowly leading us towards with the expectations, money and wellness strategies.

The second theory says we need an overall strategy to preserve a certain balance in our lives. The interesting question is how can we see the overall picture? Figure 6 below shows what I believe the course wants to bring us towards.

Figure 6: Our overall balance strategy

Figure 6: Our overall balance strategy

The difference between the two strategy layouts is this one does not tie you down to a specific outcome but still gives you a way to tie your overall life strategies together. After the money and wellness strategies, I believe the question you need to ask yourself is what other strategies do YOU need in your life? Sit down, think about it, then go out and create it!

If you have a chance, please let me know what you think of the long-term strategy stuff in our LinkedIn group or via the comments on the site. Does this all make sense to you?