Summary

 

Leadership development is not just about taking a course or reading the latest business book.  Although they are essential components of leadership development, more is needed to result in a better return on investment and a more sustained impact for the leader.  Effective leadership development combines concept learning opportunities with immediate application in the real world, integrated with internal mentoring to align expectations and build organizational culture and coaching to develop leader confidence quickly.

 

Should you be concerned about leadership development?  Yes, from at least two points of view.  First, is leadership development a priority in your organization or just when there is time?  Second, is there a structured and integrated leadership development approach and methodology, or is it a free for all?  If leadership development in your organization happens just when there is time or is a free for all, then perhaps it’s cause for concern and a call to action to be more intentional about your leadership development.  Is there a crisis?  Yes, because there are more leadership positions opening than organizations are able to fill due to a void of prepared and experienced leaders.

 

An effective leadership development program should contain these 4 components:

  1. Cultural alignment
  2. Applicable skills & tools
  3. Internal mentorship
  4. External coaching

 

Concerned?

 

Are you concerned about your leadership development or that of those within your organization? 

 

Recent retirement trends are leaving a significant leadership gap in many organizations.  At the same time, many up-and-coming leaders are concerned that they are not getting the leadership development they need to be successful leaders or to be prepared for these opening positions.

 

In addition, although leadership development programs are available in abundance, many are not aligned with the organization’s culture, don’t help the leaders apply what they learn within their day-to-day responsibilities, and, as a result, lack sustained impact on the leader and the organization.

 

So, if you are not concerned, you should be!

 

The Scary Truth

 

A shocking 77%* of organizations report that leadership within their teams is lacking.  83%* say leadership development at all levels of their organization is a priority.   However, the scary part is that less than 5%* of companies have implemented leadership development at all levels!

 

“Less than 5%* of companies have implemented leadership development at all levels!

  

With senior-level and the most experienced leaders retiring from the workforce in high numbers, 50%* of companies state they lack the leadership talent they need.  47%* predict a shortage of leadership skills in the near future!

 

 

“47%* predict a shortage of leadership skills in the near future!

 

Although this needs to be a concern for organizations and senior leaders, this is an excellent opportunity for new and upcoming leaders!  Although we don't need another crisis, we are facing a leadership development crisis, nonetheless.

 

How We Got Here

 

The result of slowed population growth in the decades following the "baby boomers" is that there is a smaller leadership pool to draw upon for these needed leaders.  It also means that leaders are being promoted at a younger age and advancing through the leadership ranks faster and sooner than their predecessors.  This in itself is not necessarily a concern or a bad thing.  However, these developing leaders must have the skillsets and knowledge to be effective leaders, gain influence, and drive positive impact across their organizations.  Unlike their predecessors, many of these leaders typically desire and need more mentoring and coaching than they currently receive to gain experience and increase their confidence.

 

There is a path forward by having an integrated and intentional approach to leadership development. 

 

4 Leadership Development Components 

 

4 critical components must be integrated and intentional to result in effective leadership development.  Those 4 components are cultural alignment, applicable skills & tools, internal mentorship, and external coaching.  Let’s take a closer look at each component.

 

 

1  Cultural Alignment

 

Any leadership development program must be aligned with the organization's culture, meaning that the program reinforces the company’s values, methodology and approach to leadership, as opposed to being abstract to or does not emphasize these attributes in the leadership development program.  For example, if the organization’s culture is one of continuous improvement through team member engagement, aligning to a leadership development program that applies this thinking and provides concepts and practical skills that can be directly used in this culture is critical.

 

Unlike specific skills training such as accounting or excel macro coding, for example, leadership development programs need to be aligned to the culture because the demonstrated leadership either positively or negatively impacts the realization of the organization’s vision, mission, and values through the engagement of their team members.

 

In addition, leadership development programs should have progressive and aligned development for leaders at all levels of the organization.  Progressive in the sense of continued development building on previously developed skills to prepare them for advancing their career and being capable and confident to take on a larger scope of responsibilities.  In doing so, a common leadership language and approach is created throughout the organization providing stability and consistent leadership.  This intentionality then provides a known and defined career development path for leaders throughout all levels of the organization.   As a result, defined leadership development can be easily integrated with organizational performance reviews or talent development programs that provide clear leadership development paths and a structured approach versus haphazard or random.

 

2  Applicable Skills & Tools

 

Leadership development programs no doubt provide great insights into proven management theory; however, organizations and leaders need and want practical concepts that they can apply to improve leadership and have a positive impact immediately.  A failure of many leadership development programs is that there is too much focus on interesting management theories but often lack how to execute or apply these theories in the workplace.  This is a significant cause of leaders returning from great-sounding leadership development programs, but little impact is observed or sustained long term.

 

Scrutiny of the leadership development program curriculum is an essential first step. Ensuring that the topics covered are very closely aligned with the practical skills necessary for the intended leaders to be successful and have an impact is essential.  The upskills learned must be immediately applied within their current responsibilities or in the near term.  Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes.  In this case, it’s more about creating the desired leadership approach and habits.

 

 

“Practice makes perfect!”

 

As important as the curriculum is, it is equally essential that the leadership development program is designed to provide the leader with immersive learning opportunities.  In other words, real examples, case studies, practical exercises, and immediate application through work-related assignments and projects.  This approach again helps the leaders apply what they have learned and realize immediate benefits, which provides a reward and pull to continue to use them.  It then causes a shift from learning to doing.  Most people learn more effectively by doing.

 

 

3  Internal Mentorship

 

Another common failure mode in leadership development is that it should be discussed again after the leader obtains approval to attend or is asked to attend.  Often this is not the case.  Leaders are left with a feeling of “so what” and wonder if they wasted their time.  The organization risks a poor return on investment as there is no check and balance to ensure a positive impact for the leader and the organization, let alone if the leader even attended!

 

Leadership development programs that include an internal mentor develop relationships, improve the alignment of cultural values throughout the leadership levels, sustain a common leadership language and approach, and improve impact and sustained results

 

Mentorships accelerate the leader’s application and use of the skills and tools through encouragement and reinforcement of use within the organization.  The mentor’s experience can assist the leader in overcoming barriers and challenges they face with a mutual understanding of the circumstances and environment.

 

An added benefit of an internal mentorship program is that the mentor also learns significantly from the experience.  Discussing the skills and tools with the leader refreshes and reinforces the approaches with the mentor and deepens their understanding simultaneously.  Mentoring is also an enriching experience for the mentor, driving higher engagement and satisfaction levels.

 

4  External Coaching

 

Additional coaching from an experienced leadership coach increases the leader’s self-awareness and builds confidence

 

Today’s upcoming leaders need and desire more coaching than they currently receive.  Many leaders state they are not getting enough coaching from within their organizations.  There are several benefits of an external coach. 

 

In our coaching, we are experiencing that leaders need to bounce ideas and thoughts off of someone, require some assurance that their approach is on the right path, and seek a safe environment to do so.

 

Leaders are running at an incredible pace these days.  Many are not giving themselves the time to adequately think through their challenges and develop an intentional approach to moving forward.  The feedback we consistently hear is that coaching provides the leader with a structure that almost forces them to stop and think at a deeper level before acting.  Without structured coaching, they tend to fire-ready-aim more often than not.  In other words, their leadership or decision-making is not very intentional.

 

 

“Fire --> Ready --> Aim

 

Many leaders lack self-confidence in themselves and are concerned about making a mistake.  We find that the leaders are on the right track but need some assurance.  External coaching can accelerate the leader’s confidence building by helping the leader think through what options they have and which are better than others.  Confidence is built because the leaders develop the options and make the decisions on their own.  The coach challenges them with questioning to help along the process.

 

External coaching provides the leader with a safe environment that is confidential and disconnected from the organization.  Coaching conversations with an external coach are confidential and not shared with anyone.  This allows the leader to be vulnerable and self-critical without fear of repercussions.  Being able and comfortable with being vulnerable, leaders can more readily identify their concerns and barriers and develop approaches that work for them to face and overcome them quickly.

 

 

Conclusion

 

There is a massive void in leadership right in front of us.  It’s already here!

 

Individual leaders must invest more time and effort in their development.  Take the lead, don’t wait for someone else or their organization to do so.  “I’m too busy right now” is a common excuse.  Guess what? You will always be too busy.  No one should care more about your leadership development than you!  No one!  If you do not invest in your development, you will not advance or achieve your full capability.  Others will find time, and you will be left behind.  Achieve your career aspirations and grow to your full potential.  Take action today to intentionally determine your leadership development next steps!

 

Organizations are facing a significant challenge.  Leaders don’t just appear, and you can’t just hire them.  Not anymore.  You must be growing and developing them.  Leadership development is a significant investment in all forms of resources.  Take action today by creating a leadership development program approach that includes the 4 critical components discussed!

 

 

 

* 25 Surprising Leadership Statistics (2022)

 

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Organizational Change and Transformation

 

One of the things leaders and organizations often overlook when implementing organizational change and transformation is that the change occurs at the speed of the slowest person to traverse the change curve. 
 
Change is external to the team member and is situational. However, the transition is internal, unique and psychological for each team member, which causes them to traverse the emotional states on the change curve differently.
 
Leaders are in the business of making changes within their teams and organizations. To do so effectively, they must lead the transition intentionally.  Leadership can't force their team members through the change curve, but they can lead them through the transition by creating a well-thought-out change plan to communicate and engage them throughout the entire process.

 

Learn more about our Advanced Leadership Transformation leadership development program.
 

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An essential skill for leaders is to learn to "see."  Seeing beyond what most people see or at least seeing a different perspective of the same image.  Teaching your eyes to see is a learned skill that, once mastered, opens your eyes to many new things.

 

Teaching your eyes to see - Learning to see

 

An example of teaching your eyes to see that I experienced while on an in-depth TPS training program in Japan several years ago involved learning to see 1/10th of a second kaizens.  1/10th of a second is very difficult to see and equates to the slightest of hand motions, movements, or on equipment, tiny adjustments.  We had the task of reducing the cycle time within a production line by 30 seconds but doing so through 1/10th of a second kaizens.  Being experienced operations guys and after observing the line for several cycles, it was apparent to us what was needed.  With some changes to the layout, moving equipment closer together, adjusting the material flow, and other equipment modifications, the 30 seconds was a done deal.  As part of the training, we had to prepare a scaled drawing detailing our kaizen ideas.  Our Sensei would review the drawings, and if approved, the improvements would get implemented.  We spent several hours drafting our kaizen ideas on day one and provided the completed drawings for review and approval.  The Sensei looked at the proposals and very clearly expressed his disapproval!  We received a similar response several times over the following couple of days.  We were ready to throw in the towel, but then suddenly, like a light switch, we could see these subtle movements of waste and 1/10th of a second kaizens.

 

Although I don't necessarily advocate this teaching method, it emphasizes that leadership development needs to include learning to see what is or what is not happening.  It is important to see those subtle forms of waste, abnormalities, opportunities, and, I suggest, clues that then beg questions.  Good questions!

 

For example, one time, while on a Gemba, we came across a box of rubber gloves attached to a column of the building.  Above the box was a handwritten sign that said

 

"Gloves are for hazardous material spills only."

 

This situation was crazy on so many levels!  We didn't just see a poorly made sign and a duct-taped glove box.  We 'saw' many questions and concerns, such as:

 

  • How often are hazardous material spills happening?
  • Are spills so frequent that we think we need gloves conveniently placed?
  • Are these spills actually "hazardous materials"?!?!?!
  • With the gloves free for the taking, are hazardous material spills happening and not being reported?
  • Does the leadership even know when the spills are happening and investigating?
  • How are the gloves and wastes from the spills being disposed of?
  • Assuming for a minute that it was a good practice to have the gloves available, how do they get replenished?
  • Are the people cleaning up these spills properly, and are they adequately trained to do so?
  • Why are spills happening in the first place?

STOP!!!  TIME OUT!

 

 

This example is pretty astounding and scary and may seem hard to believe, but yet it is true.  It is even more disturbing that many leaders walked right past this sign during the Gemba and didn't even notice it.  Even more frightful, the building leadership had walked past it many times and didn't really "see" it!

 

So how do you learn to see?  Practice.

 

Go to the floor with a specific purpose to learn to see.  For example, go with a focus on seeing one specific thing.   Such as arm overreaching, bending, twisting, outdated signs or posters, trip hazards, pinch points, sign effectiveness and meaning, opportunities to cause product damage, unnecessary motion, a specific type of waste stream, sources of floor debris, etc., etc.  The point is to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to see a particular focus.  Look for that focus and only that focus.  Ask yourself as many questions as possible on that specific item when you see it.  See beyond the obvious.  Look for deeper meaning, symptoms, evidence, and abnormalities.  Repeat often with a new or different focus.  With practice, you will soon see these things naturally and without effort.  Once you learn to see, you won't be able to turn it off.

 

Nope, it's not rocket science.  Seems too easy, right?  Try it.  You'll like it!

 

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Little Leadership Gestures

 

My daughter recently graduated from university and started her first career position. So this morning, I pulled out a book to give her that I found very beneficial to me over the years when I started at a new company or in a new position. That’s when I came across the note on the inside cover, shown below, from a leader (my former boss), mentor, and friend, Vito Ciciretto.

I was reminded how as leaders, we can have such a positive and long-lasting impact on people with the simplest gestures. It doesn’t matter if they report to you or if you even work with them. We all need a little encouragement and to know someone believes in us!

When I received this book with the inscribed note in the mail, it meant so much to me and still does today. The book’s content also helped me succeed in several new positions. Over the years, I followed Vito’s lead and adopted this approach, having sent several books and notes to colleagues in my network. I hope it helped them as much as Vito’s note helped me.

This morning, I turned the book’s page and wrote a note to my daughter as I gave her a couple of books I hope will help her as she starts her new career.

Don’t underestimate the positive impact you can have with little leadership gestures.

Leave a comment below with what you do to help and support your network or what others have done to support you.

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Are you a coach or a 'boss'?

 

In almost every industry and company today, leaders are struggling to get and keep team members.  Although the reasons are many and some are complex, one thing to consider that will help is the proper coaching of your up-and-coming leaders and team members.

 

Now, more than ever, our teams need and are expecting a different leadership style than in the past.  They don’t want a ‘boss.’  They want someone they TRUST to nurture them and help them grow and progress quickly through their career path.  80% of team members that have received coaching say that it has helped them improve work performance, relationships, and communication skills.  

 

Benefits of coaching for organizations include:

  • Increased engagement
  • Improved retention
  • Unlocked potential
  • Identification and development of high-potential TMs
  • A positive company culture

Due to COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, many people have experienced a loss of control of important aspects of their lives.  Real or perceived, conscious or sub-conscious, many people are pushing back on traditional “authority” and organizational “hierarchy.”  The conventional authoritarian leadership styles are no longer acceptable; even if they were, they reduce organizational performance and growth.  Although the demand for coaching is not new nor directly related to COVID, the COVID situation has undoubtedly increased the urgency to adopt a coaching leadership style.

 

The more significant driver behind the need for a leader coach may also be the rapid and dynamic change in the makeup of our workplaces, workforce, and cultures.  The largest demographic that held the majority of leadership and worker-level positions have primarily exited the workforce or are in the process of doing so.  These were, and are, the most experienced individuals in today’s workforce. 

 

This exit of experience means that the current and very near future leaders will have to develop and gain experience quickly, their career paths will advance faster, and they will need to be in higher leadership positions at a much younger age than their predecessors.  As leaders and organizations, we must help them get prepared.  Coupling this development need with the current workplace dynamics and expectations, a leader coach is necessary.

 

What are you doing to coach your team to replace and surpass you?

 

How are you improving your coaching skills?

 

Leave your responses in the comments below.

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It's Time For You!

 

Now that you've had a great summer with the family and the kids are excited to return to school, it's finally “me time”! Time for you!
 
The coming of fall and the kid's return to school creates an excellent opportunity for leaders to reorganize themselves for the long winter ahead! I know, depressing, right? No! It doesn’t have to be! If you’re thinking of taking steps to get yourself better organized and in more control of your day, here are a few tips for you:
 
* “Prioritized Leader Actions” or PLA. A very effective old tool, with hopefully a more enticing name. PLA is a great tool to get and stay on top of your biggest priorities. Try it! Check it out here.
 
* My favourite life-saving trick is to set your scheduling app to 20 and 50-minute meetings instead of the typical 30 and 60-minutes. Doing so gives you time to deal with the small things, stay on top of emails, or grab coffee throughout your busy day. Full article here.
 
* Block multiple 1-hour time slots in your calendar across the future horizon. Due to a packed calendar in the near term, you may need to start in a month or more from the current date. These blocks are to reserve “me time” so you can focus on your top priorities. Schedule at the most likely times of the week and hours of the day, reducing the chances of being overridden by mandatory meetings. As you get closer to the dates and know exactly what you’ll use the block for, you can invite other people as necessary. Sure, some blocks may get cancelled, but not all when done with thought and consideration. As a result, you’ll have more time for your priorities than you do today. Promise!
 
I hope you find these helpful.

What do you do to make time for yourself or the things that matter to you? Leave a comment.

 

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Change Enough That You Can't Go Back!

 

 

Humans are susceptible to status quo bias. We are more comfortable with what we know, even if the outcome is not ideal, because we understand the results. When we implement change, given a chance, humans will revert to the old way of doing things.
 
To help our humans, we should always run trials & experiments to allow our teams to engage in the change, offer input and get comfortable with the results. Then, once the trial is over and we have decided to move forward, we eliminate the old way.
 
Frequently, companies run the 'old system' in parallel as a backup when moving to a new computer system. Often, the old system is never retired, and people continue to use it. Once the new system is stable, shut the old system down so people cannot revert.
 
If we change methods on a production line and introduce new tools for a process, once the process is stable, get rid of the old tools so people cannot revert.
 
When implementing change, change it enough that you can’t go back.

 

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This post is a revision from a previously popular post.

 

I’ve never understood why so few leaders use Leader Standardized Work (LSW). Talking with many leaders over the years, the explanation I hear most is that they don't have standard repeatable work or tasks. Baloney! All leaders have regular actions that they must or want to take on an ongoing basis. Examples include budget reviews, team member 1:1s, Gemba (go to the workplace), submitting your monthly business expenses, and many others. So if the "standardized work" wording is a barrier to using LSW, in HPL's new fall 'Lunch and Lead' program called "4-steps to Time Shifting - making time for the things that really matter", I've rephrased it to "Prioritized Leader Actions" or PLA. Ultimately, I think it more accurately reflects the intent relating to leadership responsibilities. Leaders are too often 'fighting fires,' and I believe a significant cause of this is that they are not proactive enough! Yes, it's only a name change, but unfortunately, I think the name LSW casts a negative perception on many to the point that they don't even consider it. So, let's talk about Prioritized Leader Actions (PLA)!

 

I’ve found PLA to be a great tool to help me be a more consistent and effective leader. I’ve used PLA for years. For me, it’s my little voice reminding me of the most important things I need to do or that I want to do to be successful when leading. These are my priorities. Regardless of your responsibility, there is an inevitable component of it that is repeatable; therefore, Prioritized Leader Actions are for, well, everyone! It's not just a manufacturing thing!!!

 

Here are some key points I found helpful when it comes to PLA:

 

1. Set up PLA with a designated section for daily, weekly, monthly and Mid-long term (quarterly, semi-annual) based on the frequency of completion of the task or action.

 

2. Place tasks in the PLA that are important to YOU that you must get done and those that you want to complete, check, or confirm because they are essential to you or your business.

 

3. Set your PLA up on a monthly basis, refreshing it at the beginning of each month.

 

4. Have a method within the PLA to indicate which days you are on vacation and identify when you are out of the office on business. Doing so will help you plan more effectively when you complete tasks, or it will provide you with the opportunity to delegate if necessary.

 

5. PLA should be dynamic, not static. It’s OK to add and remove items from your PLA. However, as priorities change, new systems develop, metrics improve or degrade, you may find that you need to adjust what you’re doing or what you’re checking and confirming.

 

6. PLA is for you, not anyone else. It’s OK to show people your PLA, but I don’t advocate posting it. It’s more effective if you carry it with you at all times to help you execute it versus showing others. As a leader, you should also check your team's PLA periodically.

 

7. If you’re not getting to something on your PLA, don’t beat yourself up; instead, find the root cause for not getting it done and determine what you need to do differently to achieve it. After all, the items on your PLA were put there by you because you either need to get them done as a core responsibility of your job or they are most important to you. Then, use it to improve your self-discipline, motivate you, or remind you to just do it!

 

8. PLA must be integral to your planning system and routine. It must integrate with your schedule, follow-up system, and to-do lists.

 

9. Print out your PLA for the month, update it daily as you complete tasks daily, and “pencil” in additional PLA tasks as you’re thinking of them throughout the month.

 

10. When you get busy, that’s when you need your PLA the most. Please don’t abandon it, then. Instead, use it to help you get the most important things done. Then, when you can’t do everything, use it to make an informed decision as to what will and will not get done.

 

I use an Excel spreadsheet for my PLA. To make things easier, I've added some conditional formatting for the visibility of weekends, business travel, or when out on vacation. I prepare the PLA for the month, print it out, and then use it daily by marking tasks using a pen. PLA is integral to my daily, weekly, and monthly planning system.

 

Check out our 'Tools' page to download a template of my PLA to use for yourself. Then, modify it as necessary to make it work for you.

 

I hope you found this helpful. Are there any key points I've missed or, in your experience, you feel are most important?

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We (HPL) have been working with a few different clients recently where there has been a need for proof-of-concept line trials.  To me, line trials are a lot of fun!  Well, they can and should be.  Think of them as a sandbox that we can build out our creative and innovative ideas and concepts to see if they will work in the real world.  However, to be effective and result in meaningful outcomes, line trials need to follow a robust Plan, Do, Check, Act/Adjust (PDCA) process.  A common mistake when undertaking line trials is an inadequate plan!  A good rule of thumb is to spend approximately 70% of your PDCA time and effort (not including the actual trial build duration) in planning for the trial.

 

Given the importance of proof-of-concept line trials, HPL has created two documents to help plan and execute effective line trials, as follows:

 

  • Proof-of-concept line trial guideline – a step-by-step guideline detailing each phase of the PDCA process.

 

  • Proof-of-concept line trial worksheet – a template that can be used to assist with each of the 4 phases of PDCA when planning and executing line trials.

 

Both documents are available for free download from our HPL tools page using this link.

 

While recently reading “Leadership Moments from NASA, Achieving the impossible“, by Dr. Dave Williams, one of the  statements in the end of a chapters ‘Leadership Insights’ stated:

 

“Simulation creates an environment where failure is a safe opportunity for learning.”

 

Although the quote was referring to space flight training and simulation, the same is very applicable to proof-of-concept line trials.  Really, the only failure of a line trial is not to follow a proper PDCA process because something may negatively or falsely impact the trial.  Even when the trial doesn’t produce the desired result, it should not be deemed a failure when line trials are made to be a safe time and place for those involved to experiment and learn.  So even if a line trial results in a less than expected or disappointing outcome, as long as we’ve learned from it, it’s a great successful failure!

 

Let us know what you think of these tools or if we've missed anything!

 

Glenn

 

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How to navigate a curve

How to navigate a curve         

 

When I first learned to drive, I was taught this very helpful technique on how to navigate a curve.

 

1. Brake in a smooth and controlled manner to reduce speed when approaching the curve. This will allow you to prepare and get a better understanding of the magnitude of the curve and what lies ahead.  
2. As the road comes into view (usually around halfway through the curve) begin to apply pressure to the accelerator to improve your grip on the road as you exit the curve to gain momentum.
3. Never brake, accelerate or steer sharply when moving through a curve as you will lose traction.  

 

The same techniques apply when we are trying to navigate change in our workplaces

 

1. Approach change slowly to start. Get an understanding of the magnitude of the change, the effort and the potential impact on both people and process.   Assess how organizational structures, interpersonal interactions and culture are going to react to the change.   

2. When the change and its impacts become more visible and you have a good understanding of how to navigate it, accelerate the rate of change.  Invest more in process and people to gain momentum with the new beginning and to achieve a clean start.

3. If you need to adjust along the way, make sure the adjustment is well thought out, deliberate and not reactive.  

 

Let me know your thoughts

Scott

 

 

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