Keep life simple

 In the second of two articles, Andy Coombe, author of a new book called the Leaders’ Journal, outlines a framework you can use to simplify your strategy so all your team understand it.

 
Do you know where you’re going?  And how well does your team ‘get it’?
 
If you want to find out, ask your team to anonymously complete the ‘clarity and confidence matrix’: How clear are they about your strategy? And how confident are they in the team’s ability to execute the strategy?
 
     
 
Whenever I’ve used this with teams, the leader’s ‘X’ has always been further to the top right than their teams’ ‘X’s.  Sometimes alarmingly so!  What is crystal clear to you may be worryingly opaque to everyone else.
 
So how can you communicate your vision and strategy better?
 
French scientist and philosopher, Blaise Pascal said something along the lines: "I would have written a shorter letter if I had more time."
 
It is not difficult to write or say a lot if it is a rambling jumble of thoughts or ideas without a sense of priority or form. Capturing the most important things in a few words is a hard skill, but worth mastering.
 
How can you distil, crystalise and articulate your purpose and direction, your options, choices and intentions onto one page?
 
First make sure that you are asking the right questions.  Second, ensure that once you have answered one question, the next question asks "...so what?" Third, keep your answers short. Make them ‘tweetable’ – no more than 140 characters.
 
In Leaders' Journal: 40 days of self-coaching, I and my colleagues John Greenway and Andy Blacknell have set out our SoaP: Strategy-on-a-Page. This simple framework has powerfully helped leaders shape their purpose and direction and engage their teams.
 
It asks questions about seven critical aspects of your strategy. Your answers in blue should be enduring, whilst your responses in orange should be responsive to changing circumstances. And of course green is for "Go!"
 
Einstein said: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."  Why not start to play around with the framework to familiarise yourself with it and then get your team together and work through it?
 
It will be time well spent and could even be transformational.
 
 
About Andy
 
Andy is a facilitator and leadership developer who has worked extensively in and around the NHS.  When employed in the NHS, Andy led the South West Branch of AHHRM (the former name for the HPMA) and was an original National Council Member for the HPMA. 
 
For the last nine years Andy has operated through Kairos Consultancy, focusing on group and team facilitation, leadership development, coaching and organisational development. He is also engaged in mediation and 360° feedback facilitation.
 
Through Kairos, Andy has worked with the London branch of the HPMA to develop a dynamic strategy and new HR delivery model.