“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” Rudyard Kipling, “If”
Over the last two decades, fewer than 10% of companies have consistently achieved comprehensive and consistent execution of their chosen strategy, according to findings by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. The needle has barely moved since an original study conducted in the mid-1990s. If putting strategy into action is difficult under “normal” circumstances, what happens when the world is turned upside down by a global crisis?
In a recent discussion with corporate learning and development (L&D leaders), UNC Executive Development President Dave Roberts suggested a framework to guide us through the chaos caused by COVID-19. Roberts posited that the most effective leaders, including those within L&D functions, wear three hats in supporting the execution of strategy – those of architect, translator and doer.
As architect, leaders create/author the strategy. Effective translating is communicating a tailored “why” of the strategy to different audiences, leadership and employees. The lack of targeted and compelling messaging has been clearly identified as the biggest barrier to effective strategy execution. The doer role covers everything else, potentially including measuring and communicating the ROI from L&D investments, requesting necessary resources and coaching team members – activities that generate actual value for the organization.
Many of us know that we get the time allocation mix wrong. We probably spend too much time doing and not enough architecting and translating. This is exacerbated in a crisis. In the midst of chaos, to be most effective, leaders must adapt and spend the right amount of time in each role.
“I’m trying to build a ship with a storm going on.” – Recent comment from an L&D leader during the COVID-19 pandemic
Uncertainty generated by the current crisis impacts all of the roles we play.
Roberts suggested that to be effective, we have to think differently about how we allocate both the time spent on each role and how that role changes in a crisis.
The key to success has always been allocating the right time to each of these three roles. The COVID-19 crisis demands us to repeatedly and rapidly adapt the time allocation and role content. To learn more about how to effectively balance your time as an architect, translator and doer, click here. In the meantime, stay mentally and physically healthy, and let us know if we can help in any way during these challenging times.