What's really holding you back?

Frustrated with results, but not entirely sure what the problem is?  Here’s a checklist to start diagnosing what’s really holding you back:

  1. Are you thinking about – and talking about – your situation productively?  What’s the balance between “we have to…” and “we want to…”? ("Want to" tends to be more productive.)
  2. How big is your definition of “we”, as in “we want to…”?
  3. What’s the level of energy, courage and confidence in the organisation? If it's low, why?
  4. How clear is the purpose of your business?  Is it only about shareholder returns, or are there aspects of your purpose that will appeal broadly?
  5. Are the values and accepted behaviours in the organisation supportive of working quickly in collaboration?
  6. Do you have reliable, fast-cycle management processes for information sharing and co-ordination of action?
  7. Is there a written set of goals, timelined plans with clear accountabilities, and measures of progress?
  8. Do you have an written, shared model of how your business works today?
  9. Do people across the business have visibility to external developments that might impact them?
  10. 10. Do you have a rich and fresh flow of analysis, insights, and intuition about the business? Could you be missing key aspects of your situation?

Both could work - how do you make your leadership choice?

My good friend Francois Gall tipped me off to a really great letter to shareholders from Amazon. There's a lot in it to think about: the link they see between their customer-driven focus and their unending quest to improve, their frank recognition that to make progress you have to accept you'll make mistakes, the consistency of their direction over time. But, the thing that struck me the most was that they admit there are at least two approaches to maximising business success.  One (customer focus) which they've chosen and one (competitor focus) which they haven't. If the data and analysis tells you there's one best option, there's really no choice.  In my experience, business  isn't often like that.  Usually, there are at least two sensible options (sometimes more) and all the analysis in the world can't show you which is best.  When there are multiple directions that could lead to the results you want, then it's down to a real choice - and that's where leadership starts.  When both could work, how do you make your leadership choice?

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