At a recent business leadership meeting, one of the common problems brought up was how to continue to grow while staying true to your values. This is a challenge for any business. In consulting, we see a lot of cultural and geographical differences that make this even more challenging. At J&M Strategic Consulting, we believe that these three steps will support our vision and values as we continue to grow.
- Make your Vision and Values personal
The Mission page of our web site, http://jm-strategic-consulting.com/mission.html , lists our Vision and Values. Our Vision represents six qualities that will help us succeed. Our Values are traits to support our Vision. Jen and Mike have talked about the J&M’s Vision and Values for years. In the past few months these were formalized, possibly over a glass of wine, and published on our web site to provide our story and to let everyone know what to expect when working with J&M, either as an employee, a contractor, or as a client.
- Make Vision and Values part of your culture
From the moment we first talk to a potential employee they are introduced to our Vision and Values. We talk about them in every status meeting, every employee review, and at the end of every engagement. We have engrained our Vision and Values into our daily activities to the point that they are second nature.
- Hold each other accountable
Our employee review forms and our project closure document both contain sections that measure how we perform against our Vision and Values. This is done for both the employee and J&M leadership. If there are grey areas, they are discussed and action plans are developed to make sure we uphold our Vision and Values to the highest standard.
We also evaluate new work against our Vision and Values. If we get job requirements that we don’t feel match our Vision and Values, we simply turn down the work. This has happened at least three time in the past six months. This may sound like a bad business decision, but we feel we will be more successful and our clients will be more satisfied with our work if our Vision and Values are not compromised.
J&M Mission: Our Journey
Founded in 2004, J&M Strategic Consulting started as a means for a mom to provide a way for her sons, JT & Matt, to live out their hockey dreams. Today, J&M Strategic Consulting has matured from a means to an end to a company with its own goals.
We strive to provide Custom IT for Strategic Results. We base our approach on customers’ needs and provide the right people to succeed. Our consultants bring a high level of integrity and are committed to doing the right things the right way.
Our consultants and employees work in a lively and rewarding environment that provides balance between work, family, community, and faith. J&M is committed to developing leadership, teamwork, and professional excellence for everyone within the company.
Vision: Our Directions
Balance – life is more than a job.
Transparency – there is nothing to hide.
Commitment – deliver on promises.
Teamwork – we succeed together.
Excellence – unsurpassed quality.
Inspire – make everyone better.
Values: Our GPS
Leadership. Faith. Integrity. Passion. Community.
We know, Happy New Year in October? Right in the middle of annual planning for next year, and somebody is talking about celebrating. They only celebration you care about right now is finishing your plan and catching the next happy hour. It happens every year, strategies are developed, plans are put into place, budgets are completed then they all sit on the shelf until January 2 and projects don’t really get started until mid-February at the earliest.
It doesn’t need to be that way. Now is the perfect time to prepare for all the new endeavors you plan on starting in 2017. You have vendors to select, processes to assess, training to prepare for, project teams to assemble…the list goes on and on.
Ending your year with assessments can jump start your 2017 plan. J&M Strategic Consulting has the experience and skills to help you succeed. Our website explains more about how we can support you on the way to success, www.jm-strategic-consulting.com.
In part 1 of our Strategy Trilogy, we talked about dialing in your GPS; understanding where you are, where you need to be and developing a strategy on how to get there. Part 2 discussed avoiding unnecessary detours by identifying common causes that lead companies off course. We also talked about unavoidable detours that have to be taken in order to stay aligned with the business.
In our third, and final, entry in the Strategy Trilogy, we will talk about when and when not to update your GPS. Update your GPS when the destination changes or when new roads are added. Do not update your GPS if the new route doesn’t ultimately lead to your destination.
Business priorities will change. When priorities change, your existing strategy may become obsolete. For example, if the business priority is to grow sales by 15% over the next 3 years and one year into your strategy the business acquires another company, your strategy must change from one of sales growth to one of integration. In this example, your destination has changed so dramatically that you will need to cancel your current strategy, enter your new destination and determine the best route.
Another time to evaluate your strategy or update your GPS is when new roads are added. These roads can range from groundbreaking technology to government compliance mandates. Your strategy needs to be built with enough flexibility to react to these detours as they come up and still keep your final destination in tact.
On the contrary, you may be asked to update your GPS but shouldn’t. Work that impairs your ability to reach your final destination on time and at budget, should not be added to your strategy. This does not mean that scope cannot change, it can, and will. Remember our upcoming trip to Canada for the World Cup of Hockey? It isn’t enough just to drive north to Canada, our strategy is to get to Toronto in time for the opening ceremonies. Our strategy allows us to stop at a friend’s house on the way and still get there on time. However, if halfway through our trip we decided to stop for a round of golf, then we must remove the stop at a friends to keep our trip on time. It’s important to be as flexible as you can when the business wants to make scope changes. Flexibility comes at a price. You may need to remove projects from your strategy in order to meet new business needs.
Winston Churchill once said “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”. As you are implementing a strategy over several years, it is important to measure progress and self correct as needed. Build your strategy with checkpoints in place to measure progress and determine if business goals are being met. Make sure to visit our website to learn how J&M Strategic Consulting can help you build a strategic plan and stay on course.
In our previous blog we discussed strategy as a GPS and how that GPS will help deliver business results. There is a starting point and a destination with a calculated best route to get to that destination. Just like any road trip, when a strategy gets put in motion, there are bound to be detours. Some of these detours are unnecessary and can be avoided.
There are several reasons that companies take detours when executing a strategy. Resources become constrained; there may not be enough people to handle the additional project workload, resources may not have the skill set to implement new technology, or priorities may not be clearly defined so that people are working on the right things. Managing scope is critical to staying on the right path. It is impossible to stay on the right road when the destination is changed or to stay on schedule when new stops are added to the route. Poor budget management can lead to detours. Inaccurate forecasting will get your project off on the wrong foot. If you plan to drive from Pittsburgh to Denver but only have enough gas money to get to Chicago and back, your trip will not be successful.
These detours can be grouped into three common causes:
- Lack of executive sponsorship
- Undisciplined execution
- Ineffective management
Each of these causes can be avoided. Lack of executive sponsorship is like having a backseat driver. The GPS is telling you to turn left but the voice in the backseat says to stay straight; detours will be unavoidable if you listen the the wrong directions. Undisciplined execution is entirely ignoring the GPS. In Part I we mentioned going to Toronto. Without discipline in execution, we could just head north because we know Canada is north. We may or may not end up in Toronto. Managing strategy effectively goes hand in hand with disciplined execution. This is where the GPS continues to verify your location and validates that you are on the right path. A defined project methodology, empowered project managers, engaged resource managers, and consistent reviews of progress bring the necessary management and discipline to be successful. Check out J&M Strategic Consulting’s method page to learn more on how we can help you stay on course, http://jm-strategic-consulting.com/method.html/.
There are detours that are unavoidable. IT strategy needs to be flexible enough to stay aligned with business goals. When a bridge is out, your GPS needs to be able to get you safely to the other side. An IT strategy in support of and aligned with the business will need to change as business priorities change. For example, if the business has a goal to increase sales with the use of a new sales lead tool then finds there is a greater opportunity in supply chain efficiency, the IT strategy needs to adjust to the new destination. Once the new route is determined, make sure to utilize change management so the the new destination is communicated and the reason for the detour is transparent.
If you haven’t had a chance to read part one of the trilogy, you can find it here, https://jmstrategicconsulting.com/2016/07/16/is-your-gps-dialed-in/. In the last part of the trilogy we are going to answer the question How often should you update your GPS?
With J&M Strategic Consulting, you will hear a lot about your GPS because we believe that having a clearly defined destination and staying on course are critical to success. Does your company have a GPS? You may not think so, but it does – your strategic plan is your GPS.
Most of the companies we work with have a list of projects they expect to complete and call that list their strategy. Knowing what projects you want to complete sets a direction, but does not define a specific destination. For example, we are headed to the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in the near future. If we told you we were going to Canada, that would imply our direction, however, does not tell you what our destination is.
People, Process, and Technology with specific skills and purpose to support the business make up your IT department. To mature from having only a direction to a destination, IT needs to be aligned with the business. When IT is not aligned with the business, it cannot be strategic to the success of the company. IT can only be considered strategic when People, Process, and Technology are aligned with business priorities. When projects are aligned with business imperatives, a strategy becomes a powerful tool, not just a list of projects.
Now that you know your destination, it’s time to find your starting point. Just like a GPS calculating the fastest route, it is impossible without knowing the starting point. This is done by assessing how closely aligned your list of projects are with business priorities. The gap is your starting point. If you click on the link below, you will find J&M Strategic Consulting’s approach to helping you find your starting point, http://jm-strategic-consulting.com/method.html.
In our next two parts of the trilogy we are going to discuss calculating the best route and staying on course, and how often should you update your GPS?