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Sandy Ogg November 2 2016 5 min read

Momentum Builders: Cutting Through

For many employees, distinguishing the signal from the noise can be hard. This year’s initiatives get piled on top of last year’s, today’s executive priorities on top of yesterday’s. If you want to mobilize people to go and capture value, you as CEO have to help them tune into the signal and tune out the noise. Achieving momentum is impossible without this clarity of purpose. To align the signal with the company’s ambition, you must design a series of cut-through initiatives that will deliver on your value agenda.

Why design a series of cut-through initiatives?

Simple. To avoid the Quicksand Syndrome. Quicksand forms in sand that is saturated with water. Unable to escape, the water creates a liquefied soil that can’t support weight. Any sudden change in pressure, any shock to the system causes the sand to lose strength. Objects introduced to it sink.

KNOW  Try to jam too many things through your organization at once and you create quicksand. There is simply no capacity in the system to take on new work. And so nothing can escape from being pulled into the mire. Introduce a sudden change in pressure, like the boldness and urgency associated with Mobilization, and everything will simply sink below the surface.

What, then, is the best way to avoid this trap?

DO  Start small to move fast. Assess your company’s capacity to do the critical work you need done for Mobilization. Design a sequence of a few vital initiatives that will deliver the value you are aiming to capture. Focus your resources on these.

Your work here is about cutting through organizational overwhelm (a.k.a. desaturating the mix of work being done). 

Consider your leaders as a proxy for the amount of capacity available in your company to do the critical work you need done. Each one of our Mobilization initiatives will require a champion. Each champion will have to balance this work with their daily responsibilities. Critical to the success of your Mobilization will be the decisions you make about which initiatives to start, which to stop, and which leader champions which initiative when.

Your design challenge here is to come up with a series that will cut through “business as usual” and deliver the value without overextending your key leaders. A series that starts with the one thing that will have the biggest impact in terms of breaking through organizational inertia and starting to generate momentum. A series that makes it easy for each of your leaders to self-select where to direct their energy at any given time to realize the most strategic goals of the company.

The right sequence of initiatives, rightly championed, will speed things up. Get your first initiative done—extraordinarily fast—and then move on to the next. And when that is completed, move on to the next, and the next…until they are all completed.

Imprinting, staffing, communicating and simplifying: all these Momentum Builders will certainly contribute to creating the right conditions for velocity. But it will be your efforts to keep everyone focused on executing the right initiatives in sequence that will sustain momentum.

Want to learn more about cut-through initiatives and how successful CEOs sequence them during Mobilization? Check out /move: The CEO's Playbook for Capturing Value.


Sandy Ogg’ 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 methodology.