Championship Leadership in Resource Constrained Markets

We are seeing our customers admonished to “do more with less,” “find a
way or your replacement will!” and other, similar encouragement. We have
gone from downward advice to “form a careful plan” to “I don’t care
how…just get it done now!”

Heat isn’t generating much light. After a while, firing capable people
for failing to do the impossible just weakens morale and the

Yet in all the craziness, we are seeing some wins from our customers. Here is what we expect walking into a new situation.

  1. Everyone is working a full capacity. We are past the point of increasing output. Something has to give.
  2. When someone is doing something that appears crazy, there is a good reason for it. Recreational worrying has paid off in the past.
  3. Saying something doesn’t make you credible. I haven’t seen a winning organization where the leadership hasn’t earned and kept credibility.

So how do you create a successful organization in a badly constrained
circumstance, where the customers aren’t paying, forecasts are
collapsing, and you are getting (dispensing?) a lethal dose of Fear,
Uncertainty and Doubt?

Moving Forward
If everyone is working at full capacity, obviously we are going to have
to stop doing some things if we are going to do different things.

We usually make a first analysis of what should we stop doing? Take a
breath. Regroup. Put the inexplicable on hold until we’re sure we need

Think of balance, before you can start something new, you have to get rid of something that doesn’t support it.

Next, we communicate what we want to accomplish. That is usually just a
sentence, something that can be measured as either done or not done.

We are not believed at first, but we aren’t looking to be believed. We
just keep repeating our goal and celebrating the results.

It’s too hard to start firing people. Fire somebody and it’s hard to get
budget to refill the position. Better to upgrade internal existing

When we get help, we acknowledge it. We ignore the people who are not on board.

If we don’t define who’s “agin” us, it’s easier for them to join up when we start winning.

Work on the small things, like civility, learning from the troops, investing in improved skills and food to build loyalty.

The “New” Program
Even as we are earning loyalty, we are doing a careful customer and industry analysis.

Research and Development is often asking your ten most important stakeholders what they think.

Write down whatever they say.

Figure out what is happening in your world outside your customer
environment. Use that internet, and copy the best things you find.

Share what you are learning with your stakeholders. Teach them that
adding key facts earns praise, even if you aren’t sure of the specific
value when you first hear it.

Develop short projects that can be completed and evaluated in a week or
two, projects that could lead to a solution of new offerings, new
features, better installation, new customers.

If cost for a prototype is an issue, find a way to do something for free, as long as you get market knowledge that can help you.

Make frequent heroes of your team members, and explain again and again the specifics of what they did right.

Demonstrate how you want people to behave under disabling pressure.

Review forward progress and set new goals, daily or at least weekly. Find a better meeting model that is more fun.

Out The Ditch and Staggering Ahead
Following this process, you are operating two simultaneous strategies.

First, you are making incremental changes to keep your team and customers’ interest.

Second, you are creating an organization to identify and use breakthrough opportunities.

On a monthly basis look for low value practices. If someone has others
collecting static information to complete their job, have them offer
value for other people’s work. If the collector can’t find the value
find out why.

Publicly reward people for producing expected results, for initiating
new attempts. Let everyone see the value of their coworkers results.

Encourage teaming that gets better results.

Communicate that better top line results gives the organization more room to experiment and succeed.

Lead by example.

What can you add to the discussion?

On Thursday, September 16th, 7:15 am,we are offering a free presentation of Championship Leadership in Resource Constrained Markets at Intelligent Office, Rockville MD. Details at http://championshipleadership.eventbrite.com/

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Jack Gates

It is a mystery to me how otherwise bright people can make personnel cuts and chop resources, but retain an implied assumption of status quo! We now have less but expect the same amount of work using the same process, procedure and approach. Ego and turf and legal/regulatory requirements aside, if it does not contribute to the desired result, why do it?

Once I did away with a dozen massive interim reports without mentioning to anyone about the change – I told the responsible staff that we would reinstate any that people raised an alarm when they did not receive the report. One person…that is 1 individual out of an organization with over 200 employees…commented that they had not received an expected report! We freed up enough time in the finance department to be able to do some needed analysis on our costs (and helped us save money as a result).

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result – doesn’t that seem familiar when making change and expecting no change?

Dick Davies

Jack, what we are finding is that no part of “business as usual” necessarily holds up any more. Cobbling together improvement depends on some parts of the environment being predictable. I hope these kinds of discussions can point to areas of promise.