More on actions and words

“Unless it is reflected in the actions of an organization, it is not the organization’s strategy. A company’s strategy is what the company’s people are actually doing, not the slogan their bosses intone.”
— Roger Martin

After enjoying Todd’s last post, I read a closely related blog from Harvard Business Review.  Just as a leader’s actions speak louder than words, the same thing is true of organizations: “strategy isn’t what you say, it’s what you do.”

While organizations often have ambitious mission statements that are well-crafted and inspirational, people may not be living them out day-to-day.  We in MnSCU are facing this challenge as we begin to implement Charting the Future.  It’s easier to theoretically agree with the conclusions of the report than it is to change my behaviors in ways that help us become more collaborative as a system.

Let’s be more collaborative.
You go first.

So how can we as leaders build the commitment and accountability we need to ensure that our new strategy and goals are actually reflected in what everyone does?

One critical piece is to ensure that strategic decision-making carries through all levels of the organization. Based on Roger Martin’s blog, here are four important questions MnSCU leaders can ask themselves.

  1. What is the strategic intent of the leaders at the level above mine? How does it relate to my institution’s strategy? To the system overall?
  2. What are the key choices that I make that are within my scope of control?
  3. How can I strategically align those choices with institution and system goals?
  4. How can I clearly communicate my strategy choices, and the logic behind them, to those who report to me?

The first three questions can help us as leaders clarify actions we should be taking to support the system’s new directions. The final one will go a long way towards building commitment among the teams and individuals that we lead.

Dee Anne Bonebright


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