7 Keys to Balancing Strategic Thinking with the Day-to-Day Operations of Your Team, Business, or Organization

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

One of the strategies I wrote about in the post, Creating Movement in Your Team, Business, or Organization: 3 Steps in 3 Minutes was creating balance in your workflow in order to balance strategic thinking with the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization.

It occurred to me that I’ve used multiple strategies the past three years to accomplish this balance, some have worked well, some not as much. What’s most important, however, is not that some didn’t work, rather, it is important that some did.

Trying new strategies is part of leadership development. Actually, it is development itself. Try something new. If it works, keep it, if not get rid of it.

Well, then, let’s take a look at 7 keys you can use to balance strategy with day-to-day operations. And, if you choose to incorporate one, great. If you already do these things, wonderful. And, if they are new to you, give one or two a try and see what happens.

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

7 Keys to Balancing Strategy with Day-to-Day Operations

  1. Persistence – being persistent is an important leadership trait; as is knowing that not everything that you implement will work. It just won’t. There is nothing wrong with that, and you do not get a demerit if something doesn’t work. All that means is that you need to be persistent in your actions to find that process, or system that will work. Stick to it, and you will find it.
  2. Prioritization – we are all inundated with multiple competing priorities. It is very important, however, to get clear on how those competing priorities should be prioritized. Very important. Otherwise, all of your priorities will have the same level of importance, and chances are many of them will not move forward.
  3. Patience – very important to have patience with yourself. When you develop patience with yourself, you will also have more patience with the people on your team, or in your business, or organization. Trust me when I write that patience will win over force any day. Patience is sustainable, force, not so much. Be patient, and give yourself the time you need to breathe.
  4. Determination – when one is determined, they are moving forward, and do not let obstacles stand in their way. Important for every leader everywhere. Why? Because the nature of leadership ensures that obstacles will often present themselves before us. Often. Being resolute and steadfast, while also being flexible in your approach is key. You will be challenged regularly. You will also be drawn to the day-to-day operations. Normal. Yet be steadfast, and determined to incorporate strategy into your daily workflow. It is possible.
  5. Organization – understanding an organizational system that works for you is essential. It does not have to make sense to anyone else. Just you. Important, as people often think that their organization system must be understandable to others. Not so. You need to understand it, period. Also know that how you organize yourself will change as the business changes. It is supposed to.
  6. Time Management – a difficult skill set to develop for me, yet one that I have made progress on in the past few years. What I’ve learned, similar to learning to organize myself, is that there is no one way to manage time effectively. Important to understand. When you understand this, you will actively seek out new ways to manage your time, until you find the system that works for you. And, time management should also change as the business changes. It must.
  7. Vision Clarity – you must be very clear on your vision. If you are not clear, you will continue to do day-to-day tasks that are not moving you closer to achieving the goals associated with your vision. Being clear on your vision, ensures that you are moving your vision forward when you are working on the day-to-day operations. You are then always working on your strategy, even when you are working in the “weeds.”

There we go. 7 keys to creating balance between strategy and the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization. Are there other keys, you ask? Of course. These are simply the ones that I am most present to now.

There are many meaningful ways to balance strategy and day-to-day operations. How many there are matters less, than, as leaders, we try new things, and incorporate new strategies into our workflow often. Be open and flexible to new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new ways of being.

Teams, businesses, and organizations change often. And, with change comes the need to be open to changing as the need changes. A must.

If you’ve tried the keys outlined in this post, awesome. If you’ve not tried them all, try a new one, try two. If you already do them all, wonderful, you’re ahead.

If you’re not sure how to incorporate these keys into your workflow, here are a couple of quick suggestions before I close.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash
  1. Persistence – continue to try new things. Get your best ideas out, and invite others to collaborate. Your ideas + their ideas =.even better ideas. Continue to persist, you will find the process, system, or vision you are looking for.
  2. Prioritization – how do you prioritize your work? Know that however you prioritize your work today, there are a million other ways to prioritize. If what you are doing is not working, try something new. Remember, as the team, business or organization iterates, the way you prioritize yourself will also have to iterate.
  3. Patience – a big one. Though being persistent and determined are very important. Being patient is equally important. Give yourself the time to breath and think. A must. Schedule the time into your calendar. Make time, and let your team know this is your time to just be. Go for a walk, or just sit. Doesn’t matter. What matters is doing it daily. For a time, I had a recurring appointment on my calendar for myself. It read, breathing. And, I did just that.
  4. Determination – yep, important. Things will happen and “go wrong.” It is the nature of leadership, especially when leading innovative teams, businesses, or organizations. Stay the course. Remember, that “failure” is part and parcel of the creative process. You cannot have breakthroughs without breakdowns. They go together.
  5. Organization – similar to prioritization, trying new organizational strategies is important, and needed. Example – when I started my current job, I organized myself in an “old school” way. File folders, and lots of paper. Then I went completely digital, then back to files, and folders. Now, a combination. Again, what matters is continuing to try new things. When something’s not working, do it differently. You may be surprised how that will open up more thinking space for you.
  6. Time Management – phew, time management is so important today. I am much better at it today; yet I would say the first two years on the job, I really struggled in this area. How did I begin to improve? Continually trying new things; and, asking for help. The department administrative assistant, to this day, goes through my calendar with me, and asks this question – why do you have this meeting? Hm. And, if the meeting on my calendar is not connected to the vision, I cancel it.
  7. Vision Clarity – yep. Once you’ve become skilled in the aforementioned areas, you will have more time to work on strategy. And, once you are clear on your vision, the aforementioned keys will also become easier. Why? Because the clearer you are on the vision, the more you understand the work you really need to be doing. You begin to see other work you’ve been doing in a new light. And, you will begin to let that other work go. If the daily work is not connecting to the vision, let it go.

Alright, we’ve discussed 7 keys to balancing strategy and day-to-day operations; and, we’ve also looked at a few ways you can incorporate these keys into your workflow.

Remember, the most important thing about creating balance in your work, is to always be present to the reality that trying, and doing things in new ways is necessary and needed.

When you are unsure of what to try next, try something new, stand back and see what happens. If it works well, keep it. If not, let it go; and, then, try something else. Whatever you do, keep moving. Be and lead well.

#business, #businessplanning, #businessstrategy, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #operations, #organization, #organizationaldevelopment, #persistence, #prioritization, #strategicplanning, #strategicthinking, #strategiplanning, #strategy, #timemangagement, #vision, #visionandstrategy

One BHAG, Two BHAG, and Creating a Disruption Vision

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Photo by Rahul Bhosale on Unsplash

Two weeks ago, I wrote the post Creating a Big Hairy Audacious Goal: The Creation of the BHAG. In that post, I wrote about the possibility of creating a BHAG that lives inside of another BHAG. Having two BHAGs makes sense, especially right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I termed the BHAG that, at the time was just being created and not yet delivered, a disruption BHAG. And, seeing as the team I work with will get that BHAG Monday morning, I thought writing this piece made good sense. Plus, I made a promise. So, let’s go.

Here are 3 keys to creating a disruption BHAG.

Key #1: Let go of yesterday

To create a disruption BHAG, you must be open to creating from where you stand right now, at this moment. Meaning, you must be willing to let go of what you’ve done up to this point in your team, business, or organization. ALL of it. Especially those things that have worked well. They will not work the same in the future. Let them go.

Letting pieces of a business model, or a process or system go is not easy. Especially when they have worked well. However, you must be willing to let them go. Why? Because if you do not, you will not be able to visualize and put into practice new business models, processes, and systems. And, they are needed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were forced to let go of things we were doing, whether they worked well or not. And, now I am inviting you to not only let go of those things, but to also create new ways of working with your team, running your business, or developing your organization. A must.

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

Example #1

We create about 300 classes and training opportunities per quarter. They are all in-person. When COVID-19 began to take hold locally, we had to pivot, AND, let go of all the things we had done previously that had worked well for us. Difficult. However, that is the only way to envision a new future. Otherwise, you are always tethered to what was. And, in what was, or the past, there is no future to create. You are simply reproducing yesterday.

Reality check. We went from 300 in-person classes and training opportunties to about 50. Yet, those 50 offerings paved the way for 73 the next quarter, which is now paving the way to our goal of 150 this fall. Movement.

That was the first step in creating the possibility of getting to a disruption vision. Letting go. What was next?

Key #2: Create processes and systems to support the new work

Once you’ve let go of how your team, business, or organization was doing business, you will now begin to create a new business model, and inside of this new business model, you will need new processes and systems to support it.

  • First – get clear on the need, and the new components of the business model.
  • Second – create those new components, move them forward.
  • Third – get clear on the processes and systems needed to support the new business model.
  • Fourth – solidify those processes, systematize them, and document them.

It is important to not get stuck in creating processes or systems until you have developed the business model. Why? Because if you get stuck in thinking about developing a process without understanding the need, and the associated business offering, you will not move forward. The process and systematization will come through creating the new model.

Don’t forget to document the new processes and systems. Very important. Why? Because these are now a part of your business model, and may always be. I know for all of the new business components we’ve added to our business model, they will stay, and will continue to be offered. Let’s look at another example.

Photo by Philipp Mandler on Unsplash

Example #2

Once we created the remote, online, and remote classes, we began to ask the process and system question. And, as was aforementioned, some of these new processes and systems organically developed along the way.

For instance, in developing these new classes, and pivoting our business model 180 degrees, we knew that communicating with the local community was imperative. We filled this need by creating a communication process, and a system, which was also documented to ensure we were regularly communicating with all of our clients, students, and partners. Important.

Key #3: Create the Disruption BHAG

Once you’ve let go of the way you were doing business, and have created new ways to do business, which include new processes and systems that are documented, you are ready to create the new BHAG. How?

3 simple steps

  1. Brainstorm – or, as I’ve termed this in other posts and videos, get your ideas out. It seems very simple when reading, I know, yet, I also know that it is not that easy for everyone. Especially when we are inundated with day-to-day operations. Yet, creating time to think is a needed and necessary strategy for every leader.
  2. Connect them to the larger BHAG – once your ideas are out, see which ones connect naturally to your team, business, or organizations BHAG. Then play with those ideas, and ask yourself a few questions:
    1. Where are we going?
    2. Why are we going there; and,
    3. How are we going to get there?
      1. When you can answer these questions about the larger BHAG, and can see how your new ideas fit into that BHAG, you are almost ready to create the disruption BHAG. Yet before you do, I invite you to reflect.
  3. Reflect and contemplate – let the ideas sit for a little while. And, continue to reflect and contemplate until you are clear on the disruption BHAG. Once you are clear, write it down.

Once you have the disruption BHAG written down, I suggest letting it sit for a little while. I let the one I created recently sit for a couple of weeks. I continued to play with the language and the concepts, and am clearer on the BHAG for doing so. And, the clearer you are, the clearer your team, business, or organization will be.

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

The invitation

Now that you have your new disruption BHAG ready-to-go, it is time to invite the team, business, or organization that you work with to this new vision. You can do this in many different ways. Yet, I do recommend connecting deeply with the people you work with about this new BHAG. They must see themselves inside this new vision, and you are the one to show them this possibility.

Example #3

Alright, we are still in the midst of COVID-19, and the team is still remote. How do I invite them to this new BHAG vision? Hm. Not sure? I wasn’t either. Until I had a conversation with a colleague. They said, “you should do a video.” Wait, what? I’ve never done a video before. Uh, oh.

Well, that is exactly what I did. Cut to many takes later, and hours worth of time spent learning how to upload a video correctly – use YouTube, please, very easy, will save you time – and I have a 6-minute video. Phew. Was awesome.

The email, video, and worksheet will go out Monday morning. I am super excited.

I believe that people are moved by their hearts. You must pull them from there to create anything that will last; and, because I was not able to create the BHAG with them, the video, I do believe, is the next best thing. Looking forward to Monday.

Remember, you can create an additional BHAG inside of the one you currently have. Actually, I think this is the best time to create a new BHAG. A disruption BHAG. Having a new BHAG will create a context that is specific to this next year. As we all know, all teams, businesses, and organizations will be different this next year. Why?

Because, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all changed. And, it is inside of this change that you can create new momentum for your team, business, or organization. And, you can do this by connecting with people in a new way through a disruption BHAG, which can live inside of the longer-term BHAG already in existence.

#bhag, #business, #creatingprocess, #creatingsystems, #creatingthefuture, #disruptionvision, #goalsetting, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #lettinggo, #organizationaldevelopment, #strategicplanning, #strategicthinking, #teamdevelopment, #visioning

Persistence Without Resistance: Getting Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Photo by Alex Wong

What is the difference between conceptual thinking and execution? And, what lives inbetween the two? Let’s take a look.

A concept is considered an idea, intention, or plan to do something. Though conceptual thinking is needed and necessary, without the execution behind the idea, intention, or plan to do that something, nothing real will exist in the world.

I often think that people do very well at the thinking part of leading a concept or idea into a planning phase, yet often times during the planning and the following execution phases of a project, traction falters, and the project either stalls, or drops completely. Why is this?

I believe it has to do with the myriad of stimuli we find ourselves dealing with every day, combined with the habit of continually firefighting in whatever business we find ourselves in.

Two years ago I went to an all day strategic thinking training, which included people from all spectrums of work, from line workers, and administrative and operations personnel to company presidents. And, what did all of these people, including myself, have in common? Every one of us was spending more time working in the business rather than working on the business.

When you spend more time working in the business, you are reacting, and firefighting, which, in effect, keeps you on track to reproduce the same outputs and outcomes that you’ve already been producing. You are effectively treading water. If you feel this way about your work right now, you are not alone.

I learned a lot from that strategic thinking training, and one of the most important takeaways was that I was not alone. We are all trying to work on our businesses, or our marriages, or our relationships, yet we continually, without being aware of it, reproduce the same results every day, which keep us stuck in the same place we were yesterday.

To become unstuck, you must not only think, or conceptualize a different future, you must then actively create it. One step, or action, at a time. Otherwise you will continue to get the same results as you’ve always gotten. And, what did Einstein say about that: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

We cannot attain different results without “getting out of our lane.” We must remove the blinders that keep us in the same lane, and venture out into unknown territory. Uncomfortable, yes. Yet, these are where the jewels of life reside. The rare and wondrous moments of growth, are when we stop reproducing the same thing we had yesterday, with the same result, and take a different action, or set of actions, giving us different results.

Conceptual thinking and execution are both needed. When you have both, you have the ability to create new future realities. And, inside these new realities, you have the opportunity to live life in new ways. Ways that were previously unknown and unavailable to you. Regardless of the context.

How do you do this? First, you must be prepared to be uncomfortable, as the journey to creating new realities through new conceptualizations and corresponding new executable actions will be new territory for you. Because humans feel most comfortable inside their already created patterns or habits, living outside of them is uncomfortable.

If you are prepared for such discomfort, the process is not altogether difficult, and must also include an openness to all that is happening, and all those around you. Meaning that things will happen that get in the way of the actualization of your created concept, or you may forget about it at times.

The most important thing to remember is that becauses things happen that get in the way does not mean that you cannot still attain that goal. Building a new habit around a new goal is difficult, yet people do it all the time.

Persistence without resistance is key. Meaning that when things get in the way, know that these things are there for a reason, and that it is okay. Don’t resist what is happening, and continue to persist.

For instance, I’ve wanted to learn another language for a long time. And, have created the opportunity to do so, yet for the past two weeks, I’ve not studied very much Now, I could get frustrated, effectively resisting reality, and give up. Or, I could accept reality as it is, reserving all of that time and energy spent on being frustrated, and put that time and energy into studying.

In order for anything to exist in the world, there must be both concepts and actions that execute on those concepts. And, to do both requires an understanding of how most human beings typically operate, which is inside of their comfort zones. A comfort zone that will produce results that are similar to the results they’ve produced in the past. And, there is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you are looking to produce extraordinary results, you need to be prepared to conceptualize and execute outside of your comfort zone. In that territory that is unknown to you, until it is known. And to know, that once that territory is known, it will be time to create something outside of your now larger comfort zone. This is the process of growth, and you are never too young or too old to grow.

#business, #comfort-zone, #creativity, #extraordinary-results, #growth, #life, #persistence, #psychology, #self-development

The Need for More Grace and Humility Now and in the Future

This week, I’ve been reflecting upon grace and humility. I am thinking about grace as in goodwill towards others, and humility as in being humble. I do believe that the need for grace and humility are now more important than ever. And yet, I find myself also thinking that larger doses of both grace and humility would be beneficial for society regardless.

We live in a fast-paced society, where the expectation to do more is always present. And the expectation to do more, has a corresponding quality, which is to want more, and or feel we need more.

All three of which, the expectation to do more, want more, and need more, often superseded qualities like grace and humility. For instance, in the hunt for that next promotion, or raise, we might inadvertently run right over a fellow human being, such as a colleague or a peer.

I am in no way suggesting that developing, or creating, the determination necessary to excel in one’s work in order to gain a promotion or pay increase is in some way an issue. It is not. It is, rather, the way we handle ourselves on the way, the journey, to that result that can be an issue.

I’ve written in other posts that humans often get caught up in focusing too much, or even solely, on a result. And, when that result is all we can “see” the tendency to be less present to others in our environment goes up; and, when we are less present to those around us, we are also less present to how we treat them.

Right now, you may be thinking, are they saying that competition is in some way bad? No. Competition is needed and necessary. We are, however, talking about how we compete. We are talking about competing while displaying both grace and humility.

I was telling part of the team I work with today that one of the insights I’ve received from the COVID-19 health crisis is that slowing down is not only necessary, it is needed. Slowing down to take in all that is around us, including those we are in competition with.

As states around the country start to create action plans on reopening, businesses will likewise create their plans on how they are going to reopen. Additionally, these business owners, especially small ones, will consider what other services and or products they should invest in to increase their relevance in a very unknown and unpredictable market.

These business owners will also research their competition to better understand how the particular niche they are creating will fill a need and also be profitable.

As business owners consider their options, I am suggesting that showing each other grace and humility will be an advantageous tool. Grace and humility will ultimately be advantageous as fear of the unknown will continue to be present for everyone.

Sharing with each other, then, the grace and humility that comes with an understanding that we have all been affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, positions us all to benefit from each other’s unique perspective and knowledge base.

For sure, some have been more affected by the COVID-19 health crisis than others. Yet all of us have been affected, and will continue to be affected by COVID-19 long after the headlines dwindle to the background, and a sense of “normalcy” begins to return.

At the outset of this post, I stated that grace and humility are qualities that are needed now more than ever, and that overall society could use additional doses of both grace and humility regardless. Grace and humility were needed pre-COVID-19, are needed now during COVID-19, and will also be needed post-COVID-19.

Extending grace and humility to your fellow human being can create a context where competition can thrive in an environment that values each of us as the unique contributors to society that we are.

My invitation to you is to remember that when things are busier than ever, whether that be now, or in the months to come, to slow down, take in all that is around you, and extend grace and humility to your fellow human beings.

#business, #competition, #covid-19, #grace, #humility, #psychology, #self-development, #sociology

Finding Writing Amidst the COVID-19 Health Crisis

To find something insinuates that you’ve lost something. Now, I’m not sure that I ever lost writing, however, I am sure that writing is back in my life in a way it was not previously.

Throughout my day I reflect upon the writing I’m now engaged with, and find myself grateful for the time the COVID-19 health crisis has provided me. Not grateful for the health crisis, mind you, grateful for the space provided to slow down, take in all that is surrounding me, and engage with things I enjoy.

It started with a conversation I had with my oldest son just prior to the shelter-in-place order being put in place. We were talking about the additional time people would have, being removed from their daily routines, and that with that extra time people might begin to imagine and create new things to do. I believe my son actual said something like, we will probably look back on this time as one of the most creative times ever. I agree.

I’ve noticed a lot more creativity in the world, from people creating new routines to keep themselves busy, new hobbies and activities to stay fit and healthy, new business models to engage shoppers in new ways, and much more.

I created a site called covid-19creativity.com as a place to warehouse my own creativity during the health crisis, and beyond. I just added the4catalysts.com website, and one other on youth development, to covid-19creativity.com so that all of my creativity is in one location.

Writing is pure creativity. As pure, I think, as any other artistic medium. It is a space created intentionally to communicate through language to both the intellectual and emotional parts of ourselves. In fact, I think the best writing is that which addresses both the head (intellect) and the heart (emotions). Not an easy task.

I never did lose writing, then. It was simply laying dormant within me awaiting the right time to reemerge. And, that time is now. So, if there is something you like to do, and you’ve had that inkling to give a try, do so. Take that first step, and see what happens. You might be surprised at what you get back. I sure was.

#artistic, #business, #covid-19, #creativity, #hobbies, #intention, #writing

Fear of the Unknown

This past week, I created a message about fear of the unknown in a Friday Message to the team of folks I work and collaborate with.

Here is that message

This week I’ve been noticing, and reflecting upon fear. Fear that comes with not knowing. And, the byproducts of fear of the unknown, like being nervous and or anxious. I notice them first within myself. The only way one can notice them in others is to first notice them in oneself. 


There is also a knowing in all of this unknown, however, which is that fear and fear’s byproducts are a normal part of the human experience. You are not alone in your fear. If someone tells you they have no fear, they are simply not aware of the fear within themselves, or refuse to accept it.


I was talking to my mom this week, who lives in CA, where the restrictions on shelter-in-place and social distancing are much more rigorous than here locally. We were talking about my mom’s fear about the future, and the realization that this is a normal process of understanding. 

I believe that to understand what is possible, and to create new future realities, we must acknowledge all aspects of our being, our shared humanity. When we do so, we open up a creative space within ourselves and the space to share ourselves with others experiencing the same emotions and fears.


By recognizing our fears as a part of the normal human experience we also create acceptance within ourselves of our fears, and likewise then create the space to accept others and their fears. 

This is called compassion. Compassion for ourselves, our neighbors, our friends, family, team, our local community, and the greater world.

I share this with you as a creation that stemmed from the COVID-19 health crisis. To often, I think, people get caught up in thinking they are not creative, which can actually inhibit creativity, and is simply not true. Creativity lives inside each of us, and can be defined in a myriad of ways, from an idea, to a fully operating business.

One of the distinctions about creativity, is that in order for a creative idea or business model to live in the world, action must be taken. Otherwise the creative idea or business model remains a concept in language. So, take action today, and go execute on your conceptual creativity.

Until next time…

#action, #business, #concept, #covid-19, #creativity, #execution, #fear, #human-development, #idea, #unknown