Engaging Encounters – the key factors that drive Winning Strategies and Operations

70% of all corporate initiatives fail or fail to meet expectations!*

Does your company seem constipated, unresponsive and unfocused? How did a company that was so vibrant during the heady days of startup and early success become so ponderous at developing new products, meeting customer needs and implementing change?

If your answers to these questions were less than positive, this condition is not uncommon and not unique to your company. Company growth leads to increased revenue and profits (hopefully) but can also lead to frustration and crisis.

Organization research shows that companies go through five stages of growth (Greiner’s growth model^). From start-up and survival to success, take-off and maturity, researchers have found that organizations face the same growing pains and crisis in leadership, autonomy, control, bureaucracy and growth.

At each stage of development crises can emerge, driven by internal organization struggles over control, delegation, decision making and resource management. These struggles lead to revolutions that change organization structure and systems to address the underlying conflict and allow staff to refocus on the real competitive advantages that make the company great. Unfortunately for many companies these internal crises can take years to resolve and risk losing market leadership and relevancy.

Where are you on your growth curve? Lost in reorganization, systems or bureaucracy?

  • Is your company experiencing rapid expansion?

  • Is your current management unable to scale to meet your business challenges?

  • Are you having difficulty executing your strategy?

  • Have you outgrown your business model or capabilities?

  • Are your methods focused too much on data analysis and not enough on execution?

  • Do you feel you’ve lost your agility?

  • Is your industry or company experiencing rapid, fundamental changes?

  • Is your company struggling with digital transformation?

As the organization grows larger and management grows more complex the organization either smothers in its own bureaucracy or succeeds by focusing on the important activities that generate competitive advantage. We call these activities: Engaging Encounters. These are the encounters, both internal and external, that engage the “client”, make a difference, move the needle, and really effect the outcomes of the organization.

Organizations that stay steadfastly focused on their competitive advantage – the key encounters that engage their customers are those most likely to succeed and overcome the challenges created by unmanaged growth. What keeps them on track during these tumultuous times is their commitment to the key engaging encounters that define them.

You may have hundreds of activities in 40+ processes, but only a handful of encounters that matter.

Can your team identify the organization’s key encounters, desired outcomes or current performance?

Many companies and employees can’t. For example, the key steps in customer sales and service are critical to your success. How focused are you and your staff on improving these key encounters?

Once you have identified your engaging encounters, how do you keep your team focused on execution and outcomes? If you are using Six Sigma, your teams are all focused on micro managing hundreds of activities and the engaging encounters are lost in a sea of goals, measures and initiatives. It is these management silos and sub-optimal functional teams that create the crises of control and bureaucracy in the first place. Shouldn’t they all focus on the essential encounters and behaviors that matter most?

Shortcutting the arduous journey of growth and crisis requires leaders to simplify their capability to Plan, Execute and Improve with clear Goal, Metric and Program management competencies for their engaging encounters.

  1. Identify the handful of engaging that matter

  2. Implement an integratedcycle that identifies and focuses on encounters

  3. Set simple encounter Goals and cascade them down to the Individual behavioral Level

  4. Focus daily Execution on encounters, behaviors and goals at the Point of Service (POS)

  5. Create clear Metrics that provide real time consequences for individuals and teams

  6. Implement an Improvement methodology that alerts performance variances and quickly develops encounter level solutions to implement within 90 days

  7. Define and Manage Programs that create initial results quickly and continue to work closely with staff to improve the solution to meet customer needs

This approach can leapfrog you over the crises that mire other companies in major change programs for years. While they are focused inwardly on structure, systems and controls, you can speed past them by focusing on the external customer engaging encounters that matter. The secret to success is not structure and systems, but simplicity and focus on customer service behaviors, internal and external, that matter most to the market.

You can begin immediately to save your organization from the crises and morass of internal programs.

  1. Identify your engaging encounters and the goals, behaviors, metrics and consequences that matter.

  2. Select a pilot team to implement a prototype for your organization using an Agile approach.

  3. Clear the decks of other projects and activities to focus your teams on these encounters and goals.

  4. Implement the simple six-part process: Plan, Goals, Execute, Metrics, Improve and Programs.

  5. Demonstrate success quickly to spread this simpler approach across your organization.

*Project Management Institute, Pulse of the Profession, 2016

^ Larry E. Greiner, Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow, HBR May-June 1998