Dos & Don’ts: Momentum

Your job as CEO here is to select the one thing that the company can do now that will have the biggest impact on inertia and do that first. Personally sponsor the initiative if it will deliver some of the highest value in your sequence. Power it up with a FAST team. Hold the senior executive leading it accountable for getting it done well and quickly. When it’s finished, personally acknowledge them and celebrate the win widely to create a ripple effect in the company. Move on to your next initiative.

KNOW • Even with a carefully designed sequence of initiatives, many things can work against your company achieving momentum. An ambition that doesn’t honor the company’s history or character, an inaccurate assessment of execution risk, a strategic choice that the organization could never do: any of these can throw things off balance. People who resist or sabotage change can create interpersonal drag. And excessive bureaucracy or complexity can stall or stop forward motion.

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DON’T • Try to do everything all at the same time.

Keep your top players working on low-return initiatives just to capture every last ounce of value and you risk losing their energy for the bigger game. Pile everything on your “rock star” and you risk burning them out. Put your entire leadership team on every initiative and you risk creating organizational chaos. Unrealistic expectations of what is humanly possible will kill momentum.

Mobilization is not about realizing all your great ideas at once. This is about initiating enough change to generate momentum without overwhelming the company. Run too many initiatives simultaneously and you will bog people down. When overwhelmed, they will orient towards doing what gives them the most energy, often the projects that are “cool” and “trending” but not necessarily strategic. Some of what they choose to ignore will be imperative to the success of your strategic choices. Avoid this situation entirely by aiming—individually and collectively—to strike a good balance between ambition and stretch.

Mobilization, as we’ve discussed it so far, can be likened to turning a great ship of state and setting course in a new direction. What will now help your organization gain momentum and pick up speed?

KNOW • A few vital initiatives can cut through organizational inertia and focus everyone on value creation. Success then requires that you, as CEO, know not only the actual capacity of your organization and your people, but also what work really matters to your value agenda. Look at what is being done in the organization now and what new work will need to be done to realize your strategic choices. Some of the old work will create friction and contribute to inertia. Some of the new work will require resources that are scarce or non-existent.

DO • Design a sequence of cut-through initiatives that can get what matters most done extraordinarily fast.

Your job as CEO here is to select the one thing that the company can do now that will have the biggest impact on inertia and do that first. Personally sponsor the initiative if it will deliver some of the highest value in your sequence. Power it up with a FAST team. Hold the senior executive leading it accountable for getting it done well and quickly. When it’s finished, personally acknowledge them and celebrate the win widely to create a ripple effect in the company. Move on to your next initiative.

KNOW • Even with a carefully designed sequence of initiatives, many things can work against your company achieving momentum. An ambition that doesn’t honor the company’s history or character, an inaccurate assessment of execution risk, a strategic choice that the organization could never do: any of these can throw things off balance. People who resist or sabotage change can create interpersonal drag. And excessive bureaucracy or complexity can stall or stop forward motion.

DON’T • Try to do everything all at the same time.

Keep your top players working on low-return initiatives just to capture every last ounce of value and you risk losing their energy for the bigger game. Pile everything on your “rock star” and you risk burning them out. Put your entire leadership team on every initiative and you risk creating organizational chaos. Unrealistic expectations of what is humanly possible will kill momentum.

Mobilization is not about realizing all your great ideas at once. This is about initiating enough change to generate momentum without overwhelming the company. Run too many initiatives simultaneously and you will bog people down. When overwhelmed, they will orient towards doing what gives them the most energy, often the projects that are “cool” and “trending” but not necessarily strategic. Some of what they choose to ignore will be imperative to the success of your strategic choices. Avoid this situation entirely by aiming—individually and collectively—to strike a good balance between ambition and stretch.

 

sandy ogg book for ceo's

Topics: Best Practices


Sandy Ogg

CEO.works’ founder, Sandy Ogg has spend 30+ years working and learning with CEOs around the world. His experience and the insights he’s gained through this work have informed the CEO.works methodology.