Within thirty days of my trip north, I'm gathering and planting the seeds of what needs to grow while I'm gone. There are a myriad of details from how do we move our strategy forward to who signs my timesheet?
An advisor suggested beginning with an exercise. Write a letter to your team, she said, on the most important things you want them to know. Make these about the how of what you do and not the what. And write it as if you are leaving in ten minutes. Go!
Nothing like an impossible deadline to focus the mind. So what's most important? Yardsticks.
When I was a consultant, a Wall Street client asked if we could help get their software projects on track. It became apparent that the key issue was too many projects that were all "immediate" needs. Through a series of exercises, we sequenced the projects over a three-year horizon. What was important about the exercise was not as much about creating a more realistic project plan as it was about clarifying a number of implied decision rules senior managers were using. Things like, "will it increase near-term sales" or "does it meet a new regulatory requirement" or is it a "client special request?"
The goal of developing a company's yardsticks is to enable managers and staff at all levels to (a) make decisions about projects and activities with a more senior management mind-set, and (b) to constructively question the priority of all projects and activities to assess whether they are aligned with the organization's key bets, or strategic goals. When the goals and rules of the game clear, it is possible for teams to be empowered to accomplish objectives with a high sense of mission and ownership.
So that's the goal for this week; communicate the yardsticks. And also figure out which books need to get packed in backseat of my car.
p.s. The press release of this fellowship has been posted on the Dartmouth web site, here: http://www.tuck.dartmouth.edu/news/releases/pr20080215_cds.html
Also check out the "RadioTuck" interview I did during my visit to the Tuck School last fall, here: http://mba.tuck.dartmouth.edu/digital/RadioTuck20/MediaPages/NetHope.html