I am often shocked by how many initiatives are left to languish after so much time and energy was put into a program or project launch. How about you? Have you ever gone to one of your Department Heads or Managers and asked how a particular project was going and they looked back at you with such palpable discomfort you just knew the project was forgotten or even worse yet they look at you with a blank stare? Yes, it happens. Actually it happens more often than not. In a time of “flavor of the month” programs, when initiative after initiative is released with head spinning speed, I would be shocked if this never happened to you. What a waste of time, energy, talent and money. As every organization I know struggles to make the best decisions while sifting through competing challenges, there is not one that has too much time, energy, talent or money…and those are only a few of the resources you waste when initiatives fail.
So do you stop implementing new ideas? OF course not! But how do you stop the vicious cycle of new idea, new idea launch, and then new idea death. Many of the changes that arise out of these new initiatives are confusing, frustrating and sometimes in downright conflict to an initiative introduced the previous month.
The answer? The VAE process. Teach everyone in a position of leadership, no matter where they sit on your Table of Organization, the critical 3 step process that will help all leaders, at all levels, immediately improve the outcome of any initiative they implement. The “Work of Leaders” model* uses Vision, Alignment and Execution (VAE process) as the basis for successful outcomes. To see your next project succeed, just follow the VAE process closely. This blog will focus on the main three steps and blogs to follow will go deeper with each step.
Start with crafting a Vision. It is critical to every leaders work. The highest rated leaders have the ability to create a clear picture of where they want to take their group. They can articulate exactly what it will look like when the initiative is successful. A vision is big, it is powerful, and it motivates the team to reach for excellence. When crafting your vision, the first step is to answer “what will your vision look like” and “why do you have this vision”. You need the clarity and the meaning to move the project forward.
The second step of the process is building Alignment which means gaining the buy-in of the people who will be striving towards the vision. Building alignment means making sure that each and every person understands his or her role in making the vision a reality. It is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and realignment as needed. Building alignment does not just happen at a project launch, it takes time and energy and plenty of two-way dialogue. Your employees want their ideas and opinions acknowledged and considered. They want a partnership with you.
The final step in the VAE process is championing Execution. Here is where you make the vision a reality and turn the great ideas into results. It is the “how are we going to get to our vision?” Though this may be the most obvious step of the process; if you don’t execute a plan nothing happens, it is often woefully neglected from the top. Though the leader may not be expected to “do” the action steps, he/she is absolutely responsible for making sure there is a concrete plan, that employees have all they need to do the work, and the organization supports the vision.
Now, go through this critical 3 step process with any initiative you are considering. It doesn’t matter how big or small the project is. Every initiative will benefit from these steps and so will you as the Leader.
If you would like more information on using the “Work of Leaders: VAE Process” in your organization, please call us. The first step is to start with the assessment which provides a clear picture of how well your Leaders perform the best practices identified for success in crafting a vision, building alignment and championing execution. Whether we facilitate the program for you or you have your in house educators do it, every leader in your organization will benefit.
*Based on the book “Work of Leaders” by Straw, Scullard, Kukkomen and Davis published by Wiley,Inc.