Resolve is fundamental to leading effective change efforts. To quote David Maister, an authority on the
management of professional services firms, “There is no business benefit in
claiming to pursue a goal that everyone can tell you don’t have the guts to

In Strategy and the Fat
, David likens implementing a new strategic direction to attempting
to quit smoking or lose weight. We all
know exactly what needs to be done to achieve our goal and yet we fail to do
it. Why?

“…rewards (and pleasures)
are in the future; the disruption, discomfort and discipline needed to get
there are immediate…we must first change our lifestyle, our daily habits, now. Then we have to have the courage to keep
our new habits… Then, and only then, we get the benefits.”

What can you do about it?

Here are the six points David
covers in establishing leadership’s resolve:

  1. Permanent change in lifestyle: Don’t think about the change activities as a series of events or milestones that are separate from regular business activities. They must become the regular business activities.
  2. Change the scorecards: “modify the very rules of daily living and scorekeeping”. Create and publish “new tracking measures”.
  3. Get serious or get out of the way: “figure out a way for it to be credible that they, top management, have actually changed their thinking and are prepared to change the way they act, measure and reward.”
  4. Principles more effective than tactics: “strategies…are…implemented much better when the ideas are presented as matters of principle, not just matters of expediency”. Establish values and frame the change effort in terms of how it’s the right thing to do not just something that will benefit the company.
  5. People must volunteer: “…offer an ideology around which people can rally…” but, “…It only works when the individual is doing it for himself or herself and has made a personal choice to do it…The leader must be skilled…in the process of helping others think it through to a personal conclusion.”
  6. People must get on or off the bus: David references Good to Great, by Jim Collins, as he points out that sometimes leadership, when unable to support a direction that must be pursued, may need to be shown the door. 

Download Strategy and the Fat Smoker and
visit David’s blog.  He has some great ideas!

Previous Posts in this
series: A
Collaborative Series
, Outline,
, The
Bad and the Ugly
, Passive-Aggressive
, Decision
, Snipers,

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