Translating Decisions into Action

February 16, 2010

How many times have you made a decision, let others know about the decision, and then get annoyed when others don’t entirely buy into your decision.  Even worse, they buy into your decision, but the “new direction” falters within a short period of time?  It’s frustrating and yet all so common.  One of my former colleagues noted, “the only person that likes change is a baby with a new diaper.”

Strategic communication is a key component in translating decisions into action.   It is helpful to me to remember that I’ve been thinking and working the issue in my head for a relatively long time.  I’ve brought others  into the issue discussion.  That small group of people also buys into the idea and have improved on the original idea.    Once you have decided to take action on a decision, oftentimes you will have to communicate it to somebody else.  It may be a co-worker or it may be an entire organizational unit.

I’ve learned  some short tips that might help increase your effectiveness in translating the decisions into action:

1. What is the key message that I want to deliver?  It should be thought of as a bumper sticker or something you can see on Twitter (140 characters).

2. How do I enlist others to communicate in language that resonates with each implementer so that everybody views the action as an opportunity, not a threat.

3. What else do I need to do and other people need to do to celebrate and support this commitment?

4. What is the frequency that I want to deliver this message (you’ll get tired of hearing yourself saying the same thing over and over again)

5. What are the modes that I plan to use to deliver this message? It may be written, oral, web based, video, large group, small group,  or a combination of all of these modes of communication

Ok-your turn. What are some tools and techniques you have used to better translate decisions into action?

All the best,



Peter Drucker and Decision Making-part one

January 31, 2010

How many times have you been in meetings where decisions are made and yet when you look back, you find that absolutely nothing has been done?  I read a quote from the late Peter Drucker who noted several key points about the difference between decision making and action.  He noted that

  1. doing the right thing even if not perfectly executed is far superior than to perfectly executing the wrong thing.
  2. decisions need commitment to become action, without action no progress is made, and
  3. a decision remains inert until resources are allocated for it’s implementation.

So, what sort of actions do you need to take to move forward decisions that you have made?  Take a moment to break down and write down what specific next action needs to be made to move your strategic priorities forward.  They can be at the organizational level or at the personal level ( for example, take 10 minutes each day to stretch and increase my flexibility.)


A Great Piece of Advice?

January 14, 2010

It’s that time of year when New Year resolutions get caught up in the everyday clutter of the “tyranny of the now”.  Last month,  I had the opportunity to talk with two gentlemen during my wife’s school’s December get-together. I was a “trailing spouse” and recognized two gentlemen with whom we’ve sat near each other at various school events.

These two gentlemen are very well regarded by their peers and by the senior leadership in their organization. After the usual pleasantries, I asked, “You’re both considered highly successful both personally and professionally. I’m certain people come to you for advice.  What’s a great piece of advice YOU have received that has helped you in your personal and professional lives?”

One answered quickly, “Write your summary of what you accomplished during your current tenure as soon as you start a new job.  You want to start with what you want to accomplish in your current role early on so that you maintain focus when the urgencies threaten to take over your priorities.  I keep mine beside my desk and refer to it weekly.  That discipline of weekly referral helps me as I shape my calendar and my priorities for the upcoming week.  I got this advice long ago from a mid-level manager who was great at developing talent on her team.”

The other answered, “That’s a great piece of advice.  I’m going to have to use that. Thanks.  Here’s a great piece of advice I received when I got my first management job-Don’t embarrass your mother.  It’s a variation on the theme of being comfortable of your actions, words, and behaviors being on the front page of the newspaper, but the idea of not embarrassing your mother makes it more real to me.  In this age of texts, emails, and voice mails being saved for a LONG time, I use this piece of advice as a little voice in the back of my head when dealing with thorny issues.  It’s served me well over the years.”

Two great pieces of advice. Now it’s YOUR turn.  What’s a great piece of advice that you have received?

I’m looking forward to reading your responses and learning from you.

All the best,


Next Post in January

December 20, 2009

I will be spending time with my family and friends.  Look for my next post in January.

Have a safe, restful, and joyous holiday season.   Send up prayers to our Servicemen and women who are standing in harms way and away from family during this holiday season as well.

All the best,


Best Travel Tips?

December 16, 2009

The holidays and holiday travel season is upon us.  This short post is a request for the community to share any great travel tips they have for less stressful travel.  One of the podcasts series I listen to is ManagerTools.  One of their casts discussed great travel tips.  I’ve adapted a couple of their ideas and added some of my own.  Full disclaimer.  I used to try to surf the web and get the best deal on different aggregator websites.  I’m now a BIG believer in using a travel agent.  it just took one flight cancellation out of Portland OR coming back to the East Coast for me to be a believer. If you want a recommendation, I can certainly give a ringing endorsement to my travel agent, Janine.

Here are three tips I have learned:

1-Choose a primary airline. Base your decision on where you fly most frequently and whether the airline has a hub near you.

2-Get and use a travel agent-see above.

3-Enroll in a Frequent Flyer program.  Look especially at those programs that allow you to double dip and use your points for things other than simply flight miles-gives you many more options.

Now what are yours? Please comment below.

All the best,


Watching Pros at Work

December 7, 2009

It’s exciting and gratifying to sit in the background and watch some pros at work.  That is part of the allure of professional sports, professionals in the arts, and experts in different fields.  This past week, I got a chance to sit and watch some true professionals in executive education in two programs this week.

We worked this past week with two groups of very senior executives.  Part of the challenge of the work was asking the pros to condense their work into a more compressed timeframe, while at the same time giving the senior executives time to apply and discuss the key learning outcomes in their areas of expertise.  While I wasn’t surprised by these pros being able to do this, it was still impressive to watch as the pros outlined their key points in their individual sessions and then step back and ask questions like “to what extent is this happening in your organization?”  These pros then stepped to the side and moved effortlessly from the instructor to more of a “tour guide” (as one of the pros described the process for that particular session), stopping at some areas, while zipping through others that the senior executives did not find as useful or relevant.

I’ve  seen some incredible researchers who were terrible in front of clients. They claim that the client wants to hear them pontificate and tell all about their particular area of expertise, reading the slides, boring slide after boring slide with 40 words on each slide.

I’ve seen slick presenters who have a slick multimedia presentation that looks good at first, but then, people wonder where the substance is. They dazzle you with smoke and mirrors, they mouth platitudes, they fill up their entire time so that they don’t have time for questions, and then they leave immediately because they are afraid that  someone may ask them a question that they cannot answer.

This past week, I was once again privy to sitting and watching pros who had deep technical content knowledge, the wisdom to know how to help the clients best understand the main learning objectives, and were flexible and confident enough in their abilities and expertise to allow the client to take the initiative on what they wanted to accomplish during the session.

I’ve seen a number of them and I don’t take the time to recognize them for their talents.  Hats off this week to (in alphabetical order) Sridhar Balasubramanian, Peter Brews, Lisa Jones-ChristensonJeff Edwards, Alison Fragale, Dave HofmannAtul Nerkar, and Al Segars.


Ten Reasons Why People Hate the Boss

December 1, 2009

Read this post on this past week.  It’s a quick slide show on some serious mistakes managers and leaders may make.  I found this intriguing both on the way they presented the problem and solution (1 slide for the problem and one for the solution), as well as how they followed the presentation secrets outlined in last weeks post on dramatically improving your strategic communication.