56. BOLD Vision Framework

Key Definitions

A vision is a picture of what you would like to become. You envision a future self or organization that you would like to strive for – it’s not what you see with your naked eye, but with your mind’s eye. It’s not how you look at things (your view), but how you dream to shape things.

A vision will be inspiring if it sketches an attractive long-term goal that is neither too easy nor out of reach. If it is too easy, it will simply be an objective. If it is unattainable, it will be a fantasy that people can’t take seriously. It needs to be an ambitious dream, not a pie-in-the-sky.

Conceptual Model

The BOLD Vision Framework outlines the four key elements that need to be defined to have a complete vision for an organization. At the heart is the organizational ambition (“how high do we want to set our sights?”), surrounded by the three fundamental strategic questions already discussed in the Strategic Alignment Model (Meyer’s Management Models #32). Underneath are the four BOLD conditions that need to be met for a vision to be inspiring, which are the opposite of SMART conditions (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound).

Key Elements

The four building blocks of any organizational vision are the following:

  1. Organizational Ambition. While an organization’s mission should give an answer to the question “why?” (the raison d’etre), the organization’s ambition should answer “how high?”. What is the performance level the organization wants to strive for – how big, well-known, impactful, profitable, international and/or sustainable? What does future success look like?
  2. Market Position. The world outside the organization is huge, so a crucial part of the vision is to define “where to play?” – where in the market does the organization want to compete and achieve success? Which customers does it want to serve and with which other parties is it willing to deal, such as competitors, distributors, suppliers, and governments.
  3. Business Model. The next question is “how to play?” – how does the organization want to create superior customer value in future, thereby fending off competition, while at the same time dealing with all other parties in the chosen market? What are the intended value propositions, which activity system will be developed, and which resources needed?
  4. Organizational Model. The final question is “who should play?” – what does the team look like that is capable of running the business model? What type of people need to be on the team, how should it be structured, coordinated, and controlled, which culture is needed and what type of leadership is required to get the optimal result?

These four elements need to be determined while meeting the following four criteria:

  1. While SMART goals need to be specific, a vision needs to be broad. It should sketch a big picture overview of how all elements fit together into a consistent whole, using rough brushstrokes to highlight the crucial lines, while leaving out all the specific details.
  2. While SMART goals need to be realistic, a vision needs to be optimistic. It should sketch a bright, hopeful picture of what can potentially be achieved if people in the organization is willing to work hard and luck is on their side.
  3. Long-term. While SMART goals need to be measurable and time-bound, a vision needs to be long-term. It is the guiding light further out into the future, giving direction beyond the period for which the organization measures and plans.
  4. Daring. While SMART goals need to be immediately actionable, a vision needs to be daring. It should challenge people to come out of their comfort zone, think big, innovate, and stretch themselves – to do things they never realized they could achieve.

Key Insights

55. Duty of Care Feedback Model

Key Definitions

In common parlance, feedback is any type of information given back to a person – evaluations, opinions, frustrations, complaints, or suggestions. Feedback is anything the giver wants to communicate. But this is a confusing misuse of the term that originally comes from cybernetics (control theory), where it refers to the signal looped back to a controlled system with the intention of steering it in a certain direction.

So, feedback is not what the giver wants to communicate, but what the receiver needs to hear in order to change behavior to achieve an intended result. Feedback is a signal targeted to influence the receiver and trigger particular behavior. Feedback is a steering mechanism.

Conceptual Model

The Duty of Care Feedback Model illustrates how feedback works and specifies how both the giver and receiver should behave to achieve an effective outcome. Key to the model is the understanding that giving feedback should NOT be about the giver wanting to communicate information to the receiver (“how do I package my criticism?”), but about the giver wanting to influence the receiver (“how do I get the behavior I want?”). Normally a person will be given an assignment as input (also called feedforward), leading to a certain behavior as output, which in the operating context will result in a particular outcome (the dark blue arrows). Information about the behavior and results needs to flow to the feedback giver (gray arrows), who should then avoid communicating a judgment, triggering a defense, but rather needs to think about effective signals to steer the receiver (light blue arrows). The feedback can be confirmative/ corrective (intended to only adjust behavior) or adaptive (also adjusting the assignment).

Both the feedback giver and receiver have a duty of care – they have a responsibility to be attentive to what is needed to achieve a beneficial outcome. For both parties the required mindset and behaviors are summarized with the abbreviation CARE.

Key Elements

As feedback is about influencing, not judging, for feedback givers it is key to get receivers to want to accept the feedback. This can be achieved by sticking to the following four guidelines:

  1. Feedback should never feel like a complaint or reprimand the giver needs to vent, but rather as a well-intended attempt to assist the receiver.
  2. Feedback should never leave the receiver wondering what to do but rather suggest tangible behaviors that can directly be put into practice.
  3. Relevant. Feedback should never consist of general reflections, but rather of pertinent suggestions to the receiver on how the shared goal can be achieved more effectively.
  4. Empathetic. Feedback should never exude arrogance or contempt towards the receiver but rather understanding, well-willingness and appreciation.

At the same time, if the feedback giver is seeking to help with care, the feedback receiver needs to open up to being helped. This can be achieved by sticking to the following guidelines:

  1. Feedback shouldn’t be approached defensively, but requires the receiver to exhibit a growth mindset, with a high level of open-mindedness to potentially useful inputs.
  2. Feedback shouldn’t be seen as inflicted by the giver but requires the receiver to be openly grateful for the time and energy the giver is willing spend helping.
  3. Feedback shouldn’t be superficially listened to and then meekly accepted but requires receivers to show the courage to critically examine their own behavior.
  4. Explorative. Feedback shouldn’t be seen as orders to be blindly implemented but requires the receiver to take ownership of the process of searching for and trying out new behaviors.

Key Insights

54. Best Practice Sharing Modes

Key Definitions

In organizations, a practice is a way of doing something – a method or technique to achieve a specific result. By extension, a best practice is a currently accepted superior means of getting something done. It can be the best in an organization, an industry or even the world.

Best practice sharing is the process of communicating a superior method from one person, unit, or organization to another. It requires the identification of the best practice (knowledge capture), some mode of handover (knowledge transfer) and acceptance by the best practice receiver (knowledge acquisition). For more, see the Knowledge Sharing Bridges (model #23).

Conceptual Model

The Best Practice Sharing Modes framework outlines twelve commonly used ways to transfer best practices, grouped into three main categories. For each of these twelve best practice sharing modes, two examples are given of tangible ways of sharing – you could say these are 24 best practices of best practice sharing. All examples can be used separately or in parallel to achieve effective sharing, depending on the setting and type of practice being shared.

Key Elements

The three general categories and twelve specific best practice sharing modes are the following:

  1. Supply-Driven Transfer. If someone has knowledge of a best practice, they can seek to spread it to others by proactively communicating their message using:
    1. Presenting. They can broadcast using the spoken word, by giving a presentation to a management team, performing at a conference, or even sharing a taped video.
    2. Publishing. They can also broadcast via the written word, articulating the best practice in an article, book, company manual, magazine interview or online newsletter.
    3. Teaching. They can also transfer by acting as an instructor, packaging the knowledge into a training, workshop, simulation, game, or online course.
    4. Advising. They can also directly suggest what the receiver should do, playing the role of expert and/or consultant, or just championing a particular best practice.
  2. Interaction-Driven Transfer. Best practice supply and demand can also be brought together by organizing settings that encourage interaction, such as:
    1. Meetings. People can be connected by staging events in which best practices can be showcased, such as an annual forum, knowledge exchange and award ceremony.
    2. Brokering. People can also be connected via matchmaking, using a commercial broker, internal knowledge catalyst or an online platform to match supply and demand.
    3. Mentoring. People can also be connected more structurally via dedicated learning relationships, such as using a master-apprenticeship system or internships.
    4. Communities. People can also be connected to learn via dedicated exchange groups, such as expert networks, interest groups and professional associations.
  3. Demand-Driven Transfer. A third approach is to actively assist individuals and/or organizations to search for best practices themselves, using one of the following modes:
    1. Asking. They can be helped by making it easier to ask a directed search question, by having a helpdesk, digital query system (“who knows…”), search engine or chatbot.
    2. Researching. They can also be helped by making it easier to investigate which best practices exist, by offering a taskforce with research capacity or a consultant.
    3. Linking Up. It also helps if they can be brought into contact with a best practice supplier, using a company directory, who’s who overview or someone’s personal network.
    4. Looking Up. Alternatively, it can help to quickly find the best practice itself from an overview, using a best practice database or an index on the company intranet.

Key Insights

53. Stakeholder Stance Map

Key Definitions

Stakeholders are the people or groups of people who believe they have a stake in an issue. As they feel that on this specific topic their interests are at play, they generally will have an opinion about how it should be dealt with, and they will frequently act accordingly.

An effective stakeholder analysis starts with identifying which parties view themselves as stakeholders with regard to an issue and then maps where each stakeholder stands. A typical follow up step is to delve deeper into the reasons why stakeholders take a particular stance, which strategy they are pursuing and what power they have to influence the issue.

Conceptual Model

The Stakeholder Stance Map gives an overview of where people stand on an issue, compared to where you stand. It not only shows what people’s position is on the topic – from very negative to very positive, along the x-axis – but also how vocal they are about their position, from entirely silent to highly outspoken, along the y-axis. The model emphasizes that not speaking out is also an important stance. Once this stance mapping is completed, an analysis of each stakeholder’s motivations, strategies and power can be built upon it. Please note that I am not the originator of this model but have only adapted it. However, I have never been able to track down who did create it – if anyone knows, I would be grateful to give appropriate credits.

Key Elements

The five general categories of stakeholders are the following:

  1. Change Agents. If stakeholders have a positive view of a development or proposed solution and are willing to publicly ventilate their support, they are change agents – they have the potential to assist or even drive change in the direction favored by the person drawing up the Stakeholder Stance Map. Having allies to share the work of realizing change is valuable, but having them as vocal champions is even more important, to signal to the broader population that it is better to jump on the unstoppable bandwagon.
  2. Silent Supporters. Stakeholders with a positive inclination, but who remain (largely) quiet, are called silent supporters. While it is good that they are in favor, their lack of active advocacy makes them useless in countering opponents and convincing doubters. Whether they are silent because they feel unsafe or powerless, or because they are naïve or disengaged, it is in the interest of the person drawing up the Stakeholder Stance Map to activate them and get them to speak out about their support.
  3. Stakeholders who candidly voice their opposition to a development or solution are called boxers, to convey their willingness to throw verbal punches. The advantage of frank opponents is that their contrary opinions are out in the open, allowing them to be treated as sparring partners instead of enemies – they can actually help to challenge ideas and spot weaknesses, if they can be seduced into a constructive exchange. If they insist on landing hard blows, however, it can be better to try to avoid them or exit them if possible.
  4. Guerillas. Stakeholders with a negative opinion who remain silent are called guerillas, to express their inclination towards undercover resistance. Sometimes they speak to no one about their opposition, but more often they are publicly silent, but disparaging behind closed doors. Such criticism at the coffee machine can undermine support or even lead to active sabotage. Therefore, it is important to draw out the guerillas and get them to voice their views, so they can be treated as sparring partners or exited.
  5. Fence Sitters. Not having a clear stance is also a stance – people in this category are called fence sitters, as they are neither on one side or the other and are waiting to see how things turn out. Some truly don’t have an outspoken opinion, while others prefer to sit on the fence for opportunistic reasons, waiting to join the winning side once it becomes clear who that is. As the fence sitters tend to be pragmatic waiters, they can be mobilized to join the change agents if they can be convinced it is time to jump on the bandwagon.

Key Insights

 

 

52. Status Snakes & Ladders

Key Definitions

A person’s or organization’s status is their standing compared to others – it is how they are ranked in the eyes of the people around them. As this relative standing is based on perceptions and reputation, status is not static, but changes over time and can be influenced.

Status can be derived from four key sources: From being seen as successful at a particular endeavor (achievement status), from being seen as morally good (virtue status), from being seen as member of a desirable group (affiliation status) and from being seen as powerful (power status). These are described in more detail in model 46 (Ambition Radar Screen).

Conceptual Model

The Status Snakes & Ladders framework outlines the six key factors influencing whether people and organizations gain or lose status. The name of the framework is a reference to the old board game Snakes and Ladders, in which participants can slide down away from the finish line or can take a shortcut up towards the finish by climbing a ladder. The framework’s key message is that the same up and down dynamic is true when it comes to status. However, in the board game everything depends on a roll of the dice, while in the status game there are six levers that can consciously be pulled to accelerate someone up or down. All six levers can be used by the people or organizations themselves, but also by those around them.

 

Key Elements

The six levers for increasing or decreasing someone’s status are the following:

  1. Higher status is awarded to people who behave according to social expectations – consistent with the unwritten rules that are part of the culture. For example, a successful person shouldn’t gloat, a morally good person shouldn’t be condescending, an in-crowd person should wear the right clothing and a powerful person should help the powerless. Conforming to these implicit social norms is key to achieving higher social status.
  2. But behaving ‘correctly’ is not enough – a person also needs to deliver. Real successes need to be achieved, morally good deeds need to be done, tangible membership of the in-group needs to be exhibited and/or the public wielding of power needs to be on display. People will be looking for concrete proof that a person can perform according to their standing. Doubt about their future ability to deliver can be detrimental.
  3. As it is often difficult to see whether a person is performing and conforming to the social rules, people will look to what others are saying – they will listen to the gossip and scan the media to get a sense of someone’s standing in the eyes of others. This presents the opportunity to promote yourself or others, highlighting performance and spinning it in the most beneficial way, or alternatively, making someone else look bad.
  4. Symbols. People not only take their cues from the media but are also sensitive to symbols that reinforce a certain image. A private plane signals success, a self-help book implies moral goodness, a title suggests membership of a select group, and your name on a skyscraper shouts that you are powerful. This presents the opportunity to give people symbols (or withhold them) such as a fancy title, a company car and/or a corner office.
  5. Association. Another type of status cue is how a person is treated by people of a higher rank. If it is made clear that a person is accepted as a peer by people of higher standing, this is a quick ladder up. Conversely, if people on a higher rung kick someone down, showing by their behavior that they don’t embrace that person as an equal, that person will inevitably slide down the snake to a lower status. Who you associate with is everything.
  6. Recognition. Besides acceptance by peers, it is crucial to be acknowledged and respected by all others, especially by people of higher status. Being invited to visit the president, being asked to comment by a national TV network, being given an award, and being promoted to a new role are all examples of receiving recognition. This presents the opportunity for anyone to give, or withhold, public acknowledgements.

Key Insights

51. Customer-Centricity Circle

Key Definitions

To create something of value, organizations carry out a variety of tasks, that together is called their activity system. All tasks that directly result in value in the eyes of the customer are the primary activities, while support activities are undertaken to provide the necessary resources to run the primary activity system (see model 50, the Activity System Dial).

Organizations are customer-centric when they place the customer journey at the center of all their activities and organize their primary activity system as a seamless flow following the steps taken by the customer.

Conceptual Model

The Customer-Centricity Circle gives a generic picture of what a typical customer journey looks like and then shows how an organization’s primary activity system should be wrapped around this customer journey, to accompany each customer in a seamless manner. The framework suggests that the customer experience should be actively managed throughout the full journey, using the many moments of interface to create customer value. The people and departments performing this flow of activities must therefore work closely together, instead of only focusing on their own task and leaving customers to wander between departments. In practice, each type of customer journey, and therefore each primary activity system, will be different.

Key Elements

The five steps of every customer journey, and the linked types of activities, are the following:

  1. Explore: Get inspired. At the start of a journey, customers are often still orienting themselves, looking to which needs should be addressed first and what types of value propositions are available. They will also scan for potential suppliers. In this phase, an organization will want to understand the customer’s needs and behaviors, while making themselves visible as potential supplier. At the same time, a competitive value proposition will need to be formulated and information about it made available to the customer.
  2. Examine: Go Shopping. Once a customer has become more committed to the idea of purchasing a product or service, the serious shopping can begin. More specific information about various products and suppliers will be requested and evaluated. The organization can use this interaction to influence the customer’s wishes and steer them towards a particular offering. In this part of the sales funnel there is often also a need to negotiate about the price and conditions.
  3. Exchange: Get it. As soon as customers finish the decision-making process, they will want to purchase and receive the goods or services. For the organization this means that they need to be able to deliver, often requiring earlier capacity planning. Once the order is taken and processed, the previously produced goods can be handed over or delivered, or the product/service will still need to be created, which sometimes will happen immediately, but often requires some scheduling and provision at a later moment.
  4. Experience: Enjoy it. Many products or services can be directly enjoyed by customers, but sometimes they need help to install, start-up and/or learn how to use their new purchase. During use they can also have questions and/or require support, while some problems might need to be resolved. For the organization this means after-sales support, which can range from helpdesk activities to on-going maintenance, repair and dealing with customer dissatisfaction for any variety of reasons.
  5. Extend: Repeat it. Ideally, organizations would like to have repeat customers, or at least customers that promote them among other customers. So, when customers want to dispose of their old products and reflect on what they liked and what they would prefer to have differently, the organization needs to be present to help the customer to return the old product, look back fondly and even go around the circle again. Here customer surveys can feed into the next round of value proposition development.

Key Insights

50. Activity System Dial

Key Definitions

To prosper, organizations need to provide products and/or services that are valued by their clients – they must offer a value proposition that prospective customer prefer above all alternatives (see model 38, the Value Proposition Dial).

To deliver such a value proposition, organizations need to perform a wide variety of value-adding activities – they must orchestrate a large number of tasks that jointly cost less than the value proposition is worth. Porter (1985) initially called this whole set of tasks the value chain, but later switched to the term activity system, as the activities aren’t necessarily sequential.

Conceptual Model

The Activity System Dial provides a map of all potential value-adding activities performed in an organization, structured into three main categories. All activities directly influencing the value perception of the customer, are primary activities. All activities providing resources for running the primary activities (and each other) are support activities and only indirectly impact customers. The remaining activities all seek to steer the primary and support activities in a certain direction, which is why they are called control activities. Over their lifetime, organizations start at the center and then add activities to the outer rings, increasingly further away from the customer’s value experience. The Activity System Dial can be used to plot the existing situation, but also to discuss consistency, balance, and future improvements.

 

Key Elements

The three rings of the dial are the following:

  1. Primary Activities. As the customer determines what value is, all activities directly impacting the customer’s value perception are called primary. They are ‘wrapped around’ the customer and influence the customer experience at various moments throughout the customer journey. As customer journeys can differ significantly between different types of value propositions, so will the primary activity flow. Marketing tends to focus on the start of the journey, after which products/services are made and then sold, or vice versa, first sold and then made. But in practice, the primary activities tend to be intertwined, with various moments of truth presenting themselves in various orders (e.g., an operational deliver moment, leading to a brand experience moment, leading to a cross-selling opportunity). This is why we speak of an interlinked activity system, not a sequential value chain.
  2. Support Activities. In a typical start up, the few employees tend to focus fully on the primary activities, mobilizing the necessary resources on the fly. But soon a need emerges to get someone who can take care of some of the “back-office stuff”, like the people-related infrastructure (HR), finance-related infrastructure (Finance) and information-related infrastructure (IT). This soon leads more resource experts, for procurement (Purchasing), technology (R&D) and facilities. This division of labor allows for specialization, but requires more activity system coordination, while introducing the danger of support activities not fully aligned with primary activity priorities. Note that sometimes the support activities also interact with the customer (e.g., client billing, public facilities, procurement for customers), blurring the boundary between support and primary activities.
  3. Control Activities. The third ring of activities doesn’t provide resources, but provides guidance – these activities stipulate policies, determine procedures, shape conditions, and steer behaviors in order to get the best out of the two inner activity rings. In smaller organizations all these control activities tend to be carried out by managers themselves, as they steer performance, risk, quality, planning and sustainability policy. But in larger organizations further specialization takes place, with experts developing rules, templates, and processes, to reach a higher level of professionalization. However, this fragmentation of activities makes it even more important to align all activities in the activity system, while the hazard increases that specialists far away from the customer journey will establish value-destroying regulations and bureaucracy.

Key Insights

49. New Pyramid Principle

Key Definitions

Managers give presentations all the time – verbal monologues, often supported by visual projections. They can be short, taking only a few minutes, but can also be extensive, spanning many hours. The audience can be small, limited to only one or a few people, but can also be large, especially when broadcast via digital media.

Whatever the setting, the presenter will want to be impactful – realize a certain effect with the audience within a limited amount of time. A presentation is a means to an end, so presenters will want to tailor their monologue to achieve the intended result as effectively as possible.

Conceptual Model

The New Pyramid Principle describes four different kinds of presentations, with the width of the pyramid symbolizing the relative length of time that each sort of presentation would typically require. The framework suggests that staying higher up on the pyramid not only results in a shorter presentation, but also in a more impactful one. The name of the framework refers to the original pyramid principle, that stated that effective presentations start by offering a clear big picture overview and then move down into more detail where necessary. The New Pyramid Principle isn’t about moving from overview to details but similarly recommends selecting the top presentation type and only moving down if the situation requires you to do so.

Key Elements

The four types of presentations are the following:

  1. Presenting the Actions: With the intention to initiate. Most people give a presentation because they want to trigger some follow-up activities, although they often fail to specify what they want the audience to do. Therefore, the most impactful type of presentation is where it is made clear what is asked of the audience, while engaging them to act accordingly. The focus is on getting people to embrace the stated actions and to motivate them to start implementing. The more SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound) the actions, the higher the chance of getting people moving.
  2. Presenting the Message: With the intention to influence. The second type of presentation is generally a bit longer and focused on influencing people to change their minds and embrace a new point of view. The more clearly, succinctly, and persuasively this message is formulated, the higher the chance will be that the audience will accept it and be converted to this new way of seeing things. Effective presenters will often combine the top two types of presentations, underpinning their compelling call to action with a convincingly formulated message explaining why the stated actions need to be realized.
  3. Presenting the Argument: With the intention to illuminate. The third type of presentation is even longer, putting forward a line of reasoning in order to explain certain conclusions. It structures a logical argument, based on analyses and insights, building towards a particular result. This argument can often be used to justify the above message and actions. However, the opposite often happens, as the audience gets overwhelmed with facts and insights that the sender is too eager to convey, while the message and actions for the receiver are drowned out or even forgotten.
  4. Presenting the Voyage: With the intention to inform. The fourth type of presentation is the longest of all, retelling the intellectual voyage that was undertaken to arrive at the reported facts and insights. This journey description typically clarifies how the data was collected and the analysis performed. However, this is the formula for death by PowerPoint, and fits more with a written report than in a verbal presentation. Moreover, taking people along on this voyage in a presentation is more about your need to share your work (sender-centric), than thinking about what the audience needs to hear (receiver-centric).

Key Insights

Presentation content should be selected top-down. Effective presentations are constructed the other way around, starting with the desired actions and then the underpinning message, while only including supporting arguments and a description of the analytical voyage where necessary. This keeps the presentation short and focused.

48. Cultural Fabric Model

Key Definitions

A culture is the set of unwritten social rules determining how people are expected to behave – norms that govern how we should conduct ourselves, literally telling us what is normal. These norms are rooted in certain shared beliefs (what is true) and values (what is important). Any group of people can develop a culture, from a nation to an organization or even a team.

Cultures are notoriously difficult to change, as the shared beliefs and values seem self-evident to the people immersed in the culture and individuals internalize behavioral norms as part of their identity, deriving moral certainty, pride, and a sense of community from them.

Conceptual Model

The Cultural Fabric Model describes the four types of “threads” that can be employed to weave a renewed culture for any group of people, whether a team, department, unit, organization, industry, or nation. The metaphor of weaving a fabric is intended to convey the notion that cultures are not constructed like a machine, but delicately spun and knit together from a multitude of initiatives, none of which is strong enough by itself, but jointly create a robust and durable whole. The model suggests there are four types of culture-weaving initiatives (in the light blue rectangles), that differ along two dimensions, described in more detail below.

Key Elements

The four types of culture-weaving initiatives differ along two dimensions:

  1. Espoused vs. Enforced Norming. To reshape a culture, you need to advertise which new behaviors you expect and then check up on whether people are conducting themselves in this new manner. The advertising upfront is called espoused norming – you proactively communicate which rules people should embrace (steering by feedforward). The checking along the way is called enforced norming – you steer people by feedback on how well they are doing, rewarding appropriate behavior, and pushing for changes where needed.
  2. Explicit vs. Tacit Norming. To reshape a culture, you need to get people to learn new behaviors. This learning can be driven by explicit norming – precisely articulating what it is that needs to be learned, then transferring these tangible norms to the receiver, who then needs to understand and internalize them. But people can also learn by being exposed to tacit norming – the new norms aren’t spelled out but can be indirectly derived and copied from examples and circumstances. This is learning by assimilation, instead of articulation.

These two dimensions lead to the following four types of culture-weaving initiatives:

  1. Conveying Cultural Direction. These explicitly espoused norming initiatives are all directed at communicating the desired cultural change by making the unwritten social rules more written. By making the new behavioral norms more tangible and easier to understand, it is hoped that people will more readily adopt them and change their behavior accordingly.
  2. Checking Cultural Compliance. These initiatives are all directed at explicitly enforcing that people stick to the new cultural norms. They include providing tangible feedback on how well the group and the individuals are doing, as well as rewards for exhibiting the desired behavior and corrective measures where the expected conduct is found lacking.
  3. Contributing Cultural Examples. Instead of explicitly saying what the behavioral norms should be, they can also be shown and speak for themselves. These initiatives are all intended to communicate the desired culture by example, so that people become inspired and start to believe that the espoused changes will truly happen.
  4. Calibrating Cultural Fit. Finally, these initiatives are directed at the ongoing fine-tuning of people’s behaviors by tacitly and subtly reinforcing the positive and discouraging dissonance. People can be continuously nudged in the right direction by appreciating what went well and helping them to see what they could have done better.

Key Insights

47. Corporate Strategy Framework

Key Definitions

When an organization operates in two or more lines of business, it needs a separate business level strategy for each business unit, choosing where to position itself in the market system (“where to play”), which model to use for its business system (“how to play”) and which model to use for its organization system (“who should play”). These three key business level strategy choices are described in the Strategic Alignment Model (Meyer’s Management Models #32).

But besides strategies for each of the business parts, multi-business organizations also need an overarching corporate level strategy for the whole. This is true for organizations with just a few business units, but equally for organizations with dozens or even hundreds of them.

Conceptual Model

The Corporate Strategy Framework outlines the four key choices when formulating a corporate level strategy. This framework builds on the business level strategy choices described in the Strategic Alignment Model, shown here as three gray vertical ‘silos’ (the market, business, and organizational system choices of each business unit). Only three lines of business are depicted here to keep it simple, but there can be many more. The key corporate level strategy choices are the red arrows, that come on top of the business level strategy choices. The light red arrows are business model choices, while the dark red arrows represent organizational model choices.

Key Elements

The four key choices that need to be made for a corporate level strategy are the following:

  1. Corporate Value Creation: Which balance between responsiveness & synergy? Each business unit needs to align its market and business system choices, being responsive to its own specific competitive situation. Yet, at the same time, cross-business synergies can be pursued, such as leveraging resources, linking activities and aligning value propositions, but this requires being less unique and using a joint approach. So, a choice must be made about what to do differently or similarly across business systems to create maximum value.
  2. Corporate Composition: What businesses to be in? When choosing which lines of business to be in, a corporation needs to follow the above-mentioned value creation logic, building or acquiring businesses that are responsive and can be successful in their own right (creating standalone value), while simultaneously preferring businesses that fit with the key synergies being pursued (creating synergy value). So, businesses need to be selected that maximize the sum of the standalone and synergy value.
  3. Corporate Linkages: Which balance between autonomy & integration? To support its responsive business system, each business unit requires some autonomy to develop its own specific organizational system, including its own type of culture, structure, processes, people, and leadership. At the same time, to achieve the intended synergies, the business units require some integration into a joint corporate organization. So, a choice must be made about what to do separately or together across organizational systems.
  4. Corporate Management: Which balance between control & empowerment? The more responsive a business unit needs to be and the more autonomy it has been given, the less guidance it will require from the corporate center – it can be empowered to make its own decisions, with limited central control. The more cross-business synergy and cross-unit integration envisioned, the more steering that will be required from the center. So, the center needs to choose what and how much to control, and where to empower.

Key Insights