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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-101: Driving Alignment: The Missing Link Between Strategy and Execution

With Ms. Julie Williamson

ET-101: A conversation with Ms. Julie Williamson

and your host Wayne Brown on May 14, 2024

Episode notes: A conversation with Ms. Julie Williamson

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. 

Today we’re back in Denver, Colorado, and based on just how many of our guests are located here in this city, I’m starting to get a sense for why this region is so popular. Our guest is Ms. Julie Williamson, Managing Partner of the Karrikins Group. In addition to being co-owner of this organization, Julie is an experienced keynote speaker and published author. 

You can check out her book on Amazon, which is titled, Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice. Julie is a leading voice in how alignment can transform leaders and organizations, and she’s worked around the world with some of the largest companies, helping them set and execute on strategy and transformation. 

By the way, Team ET, you’ll hear us go deep into this topic during the conversation.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

It ended up for us to just be a really wonderful outcome because we came up with this name Karrikins. And our company was originally founded in Sydney, Australia, and really focuses on behavior change and transforming companies, communities, colleagues, we look at this idea of transformation across the board. And when we were looking for a new name, somebody was doing the research and they found out that the word karrik was one of the original Aboriginal words translated into English, and what it means is smoke. And later on, much later on in the 1900s, at some point, a scientist was doing research on wildfires and discovered that there is a chemical interaction that happens that sparks new growth after a wildfire, and he named that a Karrikin. And so this idea of being a part of that catalyst for change that happens after a big event like a wildfire became something that really tied very nicely to our work in terms of transformation and this idea of really sparking healthy growth in organizations, and how do we really help bring that to life with leadership teams…

Today’s Guest: MS. JULIE WILLIAMSON

Julie is interested in how executive engagement happens, as well as how leadership teams form and un-form. Her deep understanding of behavioral science, combined with her executive experience and business acumen, allows her to push past the barriers that hold back teams from finding alignment and transforming organizations in accelerating growth.

Team, if you want to maximize your takeaway from this episode, I’d encourage you to check out the Karrikins Group website and review the various models you’ll hear Julie and I discussing. Things such as The Diamond Triangle, The Behavior and Competence Models, you might even wish to try your hand at completing the space between agreement and alignment exercise. 

Team ET, please join Julie and I as we tackle the topic of leadership alignment and unpack the all-important how equation. I guarantee you’re going to come away from this conversation with a new perspective of just how important it is to have your leadership team not only singing from the same hymn sheet, but pulling together during their strategy implementation.

Final words from Julie:

I would just remind people that alignment is something that you do with other people. So I have a famous memory of a person I was teaching a one-day workshop on collaboration. And this guy Bill, was out in the hallway the whole time on his phone and I was like, “Hey, Bill, could you come in?” And he said, “Oh, I’m fine. I know how to collaborate. It’s everybody else who isn’t doing it very well.” I was like, “No, I don’t think so, Bill.” 

Alignment is kind of the same way, right? You can’t be good at alignment on your own. It’s something that a team is either good at or not good at. And so really think about the power of aligned leadership as something that you bring to your team, it’s not something that you do in isolation from others. 

It’s a really connected way of leading, but when you get a team aligned, and they’re delivering together, the most amazing things happen. And so it’s really worth the effort to lean into that space and to think about that, how you align together as a team.…

[music]

0:00:04.4 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. Today we’re back in Denver, Colorado, and based on just how many of our guests are located here in this city, I’m starting to get a sense for why this region is so popular. Our guest is Ms. Julie Williamson, Managing Partner of the Karrikins Group. In addition to being co-owner of this organization, Julie is an experienced keynote speaker and published author. You can check out her book on Amazon, which is titled, Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice. Julie is a leading voice in how alignment can transform leaders and organizations, and she’s worked around the world with some of the largest companies, helping them set and execute on strategy and transformation. By the way, Team ET, you’ll hear us go deep into this topic during the conversation. Julie is interested in how executive engagement happens, as well as how leadership teams form and un-form. Her deep understanding of behavioral science, combined with her executive experience and business acumen, allows her to push past the barriers that hold back teams from finding alignment and transforming organizations in accelerating growth.

0:01:25.8 WB: Team, if you want to maximize your takeaway from this episode, I’d encourage you to check out the Karrikins Group website and review the various models you’ll hear Julie and I discussing. Things such as The Diamond Triangle, The Behavior and Competence Models, you might even wish to try your hand at completing the space between agreement and alignment exercise. Team ET, please join Julie and I as we tackle the topic of leadership alignment and unpack the all-important how equation. I guarantee you’re going to come away from this conversation with a new perspective of just how important it is to have your leadership team not only singing from the same hymn sheet, but pulling together during their strategy implementation.

0:02:17.1 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:27.9 WB: Hello, welcome Team ET. I believe you’ve probably heard me mention once or twice before about how much I enjoy the opportunity to host leaders, as well as subject matter experts from around the world, because they come, they share their wealth of experience, their learnings, their insights with us. And today we’re at it again, this time with our guest, Julie Williamson, who you’ve probably heard me introduce as one of the co-owners and the managing partners of the Karrikins Group. And I wanna create a little bit of a backdrop for this conversation by reading the opening question from the homepage of the Karrikins Company website. “Are you ready to transform your leadership, align your Team, build a dynamic strategy, and deliver on the most ambitious goals?” Julie, welcome to the ET project.

0:03:23.3 Julie Williamson: Thanks, Wayne, I’m so delighted to be here today.

0:03:30.0 WB: I’m often fascinated by the name our guests give to their company, and in your case, the word Karrikins has a special meaning, I believe, which also, from what I understand, ties nicely to that opening question on the website. So I wonder if you’d mind explaining as a starting point, what the meaning behind Karrikins is and how it came to be the name per se?

0:03:51.0 JW: Yeah, I would love to share that, it’s a story that is near and dear to my heart. The company was originally called ChangeLabs, and about, I don’t know, six or seven years ago, we had to rebrand for a number of reasons. And if you or any of your guests have ever gone through a rebranding exercise, you know that it can be terrible, like it’s quite the heavy lift. But it ended up for us to just be a really wonderful outcome because we came up with this name Karrikins. And our company was originally founded in Sydney, Australia, and really focuses on behavior change and transforming companies, communities, colleagues, we look at this idea of transformation across the board. And when we were looking for a new name, somebody was doing the research and they found out that the word karrik was one of the original Aboriginal words translated into English, and what it means is smoke. And later on, much later on in the 1900s, at some point, a scientist was doing research on wildfires and discovered that there is a chemical interaction that happens that sparks new growth after a wildfire, and he named that a Karrikin. And so this idea of being a part of that catalyst for change that happens after a big event like a wildfire became something that really tied very nicely to our work in terms of transformation and this idea of really sparking healthy growth in organizations, and how do we really help bring that to life with leadership teams.

0:05:19.8 WB: Yeah, I love that, and it paints such a graphic picture, I had no idea that the company started in Sydney, by the way.

0:05:28.2 S2: Yeah, yeah.

0:05:30.2 WB: That’s very, very, very interesting. And I didn’t know it was an Aboriginal word, so thank you for that background. But what I like about it so much is it really paints, or presents the picture for what we’re gonna be spending a lot of our time today talking about. I guess it goes to how Karrikins Group goes about fulfilling their purpose, or their why to some extent, right?

0:05:53.5 S2: Yeah.

0:05:54.6 WB: Yeah. So before we dive into that, however, I’m sure our listeners would love to hear a little bit about your background, any of the highlights of the journey that has led you to where you are today.

0:06:04.7 JW: Yeah, I’ll give you the quick synopsis, which is that, I started out my career in technology, I was with a large systems integrator. I was running development teams that were working throughout Europe, North America, and the Southern Hemisphere helping to launch, in the 1990s, new mobile phone companies. And that was great and exciting because the industry was just taking off and there was so much happening from a technology perspective. I really enjoyed that part of my career. But when I came back to the States, I was living in Europe at the time, I came back to the States in around 2000, I started working a lot more on strategy, and I shifted into more of a strategic consultancy role, and really helping organizations figure out where they wanna go and why, what does that look like from a strategic perspective? And I spent about 10 years doing that. And so that was like what I call phase two of my career. I shifted gears, started using that MBA a little bit more, and delved into that. And then I just had this epiphany one day, which I was working with a client and we had been working with them for a long time, and they just weren’t getting where they needed to be. And I thought, there’s just something missing in my understanding of business and of the world. I know technology really, really well. I’m great at strategy. Like I’m good at that conceptual thinking and what that looks.

0:07:23.2 JW: But we’re not inspiring leaders to move from strategy to execution. And that space is, as we all know, a big failure gap for a lot of organizations. For me, that actually brought me back to school, and I went and got my PhD in a social science in Organizational Communication. And that helped for me answer a lot of questions about how do teams work, how do groups work? What is leadership all about? What’s this identity that we have as leaders? How do we think about that differently in a way that’s not accessible through typical MBA education or a background in information systems, which is what my undergraduate degree was in. So for me, that journey led me to a whole new set of questions about how do organizations work and why, and that really informs the work that we do at Karrikins Group, is that intersection of business and social science, and how do we bring that together in a way that helps leaders to move from agreeing that something’s a good idea to aligning and doing it together.

0:08:27.9 WB: I’m involved with leaders pretty much everyday, and I don’t know, I’ve cracked the code, so I think we could probably have a long conversation about what it is that drives leaders in the way that they operate, but we’re going touch on some of that I’m sure as we go through. You’re also a co-author of a book and I think from memory your book is called Matter. Any more books on the pipeline or?

0:08:54.4 JW: Yeah.

0:08:55.4 WB: What’s the book about and does it tie to what we’re talking about today?

0:09:00.1 JW: Yeah, so Matter, I was a co-author on Matter with the founder actually of Karrikins Group, Peter Sheahan. He has since exited the business and is off doing other amazing things. But I was really grateful to be a partner with him in that book. And I think it’s a great demonstration of companies that are working hard to make things matter, to make their work matter. So there’s a bunch of case studies in there, it’s really rich in examples. So I would encourage people to check it out. We do have a book coming out in the next about year, we don’t have a drop date quite yet, but we’re getting closer around the how of leadership. So thinking about how leadership teams lead together. In answering that question, there is no answer to it, by the way, Wayne, but I guess the answer is there is no answer, but we think there are a lot of great things to know about how to lead together.

0:09:51.6 WB: Yeah, that’s fantastic, and I look forward to getting hold of that book when it comes in the shop. But let’s jump across to our main topic for today and let’s do a little bit of a scenario role play, if you like, and imagine I’m a company head, what would be some of the reasons that I would come to the Karrikins group for support for my business?

0:10:15.5 JW: Yeah. Our best client is a frustrated executive, as we like to say. So my first question to you in this roleplaying is, “Wayne, are you frustrated with your team’s progress against the strategy that you paid a strategic consultancy $7 million to build for you?”

0:10:36.9 WB: Constantly, daily. Yes, I fit the mold.

0:10:43.6 JW: Excellent. So we know that executives, companies spend a lot of money on what they’re going to do. They pay a lot of money to do great strategy work, and that’s important to do. We know they spend a lot of money on why they’re doing what they’re doing, so sometimes that becomes a marketing agency or somebody’s partnering with them to develop their mission, vision, values, purpose, kind of statements. You should know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you should know your what and your why. Most of the clients that we work with have spent almost no time at an executive level figuring out how to lead together, so that they can deliver on their what and their why. So they leave that up to the individual executives who are very capable, bright, nice people, typically. But they haven’t figured out how to lead together. And so they’re all off doing it in their own way, and then they scratch their heads and wonder why the strategy hasn’t fully delivered, or why their mission, vision, values, purposes aren’t being embodied and lived.

0:11:35.6 WB: I see through your website you articulate that with a graphic or a visual called the Diamond Triangle. Maybe you could explain, go a little bit deeper on the three elements, if you don’t mind, please.

0:11:47.3 JW: Yeah, of course. In the Diamond Triangle, we see the what, again, as the strategy, the plans, transformation efforts, ambitions, goals, could be a financial outcome, whatever you’re trying to work towards, the having clarity on what you’re doing. Obviously and definitely important, we don’t argue about that at all. The why of the Diamond Triangle is your mission, vision, values, purpose types of things, so what’s that higher order calling that you have for yourself or your company as a team? Why is it that you exist or why are you trying to have an impact in the world? And those are fairly well understood components of the Diamond Triangle. But the missing piece that we see that sits in between the what and the why is how you lead together, answering that question and getting specific. And that, by the way, it can’t be outsourced. So the what and the why are often the what might be done by this strategy team, the chief strategy officer, or the innovation group, or, I don’t know, whoever. The why sometimes gets pushed off to HR or marketing or other people that are gonna try and bring that to life in a clever way. But how we lead together, if you are an executive, and we’ll go back to our roleplay, you’re my frustrated executive, you have to do that work yourself. And filling out the why of your Diamond… Or excuse me, the how of your Diamond Triangle is an incredibly powerful experience for leadership teams.

0:13:15.2 WB: I actually love this example, it simplifies the whole process. When I was trying to get clear on my head as I was thinking about our conversation is what comes first. It’s almost chicken and egg scenario. So I guess there’s a little bit of a parallel approach. We need to start with the why, I guess, sort of what, but very closely align with the how, and you use the word alignment heavily throughout the how process, particularly leader’s alignment. And I think this is so fundamental and often missing as you rightly point out, you talk about alignment, but you refer to it with four dimensions. And I think using one of the quotes on your site, you say you define alignment through clarity, commitment, and connection, and it’s fueled by the courage to change yourself first. So could you speak with that a little bit more, please?

0:14:19.8 JW: Yeah, yeah, and maybe through the lens of a hypothetical example, if that… And that would be helpful, which is. And one that comes to mind for me right now is Boeing. So I think as an internationally appropriate example, right? Nobody can escape the news of what’s happening with Boeing right now. I promise you, I believe this to my core, there was not a single executive at Boeing who doesn’t believe that safety is part of their why and part of their what. Like safety has always been a value there. It’s something that they care about deeply. There’s not a single individual leader who doesn’t agree that safety is a really important part of the business that Boeing runs. Is that fair to say? Would you agree with that?

0:15:07.1 WB: Absolutely.

0:15:09.5 JW: And yet all of these things are happening relative to the newer productions of planes. And so the aligning to the concept of safety is a priority for us, that requires a leadership Team to have conversations about what are the trade-offs that we need to make that are different or that are hard or that really require courage in the moment to make sure that collectively we’re always putting safety first. When you do that as individuals, it can show up in all sorts of different ways. Like where you invest your money and your time and what you say yes to and what you say no to, can vary from person to person, but if you’ve taken the time as an executive leadership team to get on the same page about this is what it looks like for us together as a leadership team to make sure that we’re putting safety first, you change the conversations that you’re having and that changes the decisions that you make and that changes the outcomes. And so moving into alignment around something that everybody agrees to, safety is important, moving into alignment means that that leadership team has to have the conversations about what… Get really clear, from a clarity perspective, what does that mean, that safety is a value for us? Not how do you define safety as a value? But what does it mean to us as leaders? What are the trade-offs that we’re gonna have to make when it gets really hard to put safety first? And how are we gonna have those conversations? That’s a lot about connection.

0:16:35.1 JW: So clarity around what it is, connection to why it’s important, what the impact is on each of our parts of the business. So if we decide that we have to delay production on something, how does that impact all of the parts of the business that are going to be potentially negatively impacted? That’s the connection piece, not just to humans, but also to the business as a whole. And then commitment. What are we gonna do when the decision is gonna be really hard? It might mean we miss our quarterly numbers, it might mean we have to make an adjustment with the investment community, whatever… We might have to break a promise to a supplier who we’ve been working with for a very long time. All of these things are hard and they take commitment, and that drives the courage piece of it. How do we collectively as a leadership team show up with courage when we have to make those hard decisions and stay committed to what we’re all connected to with the clarity about what it really means to put safety first as a culture. So that’s just a, maybe a pull through example that might be useful.

0:17:39.3 WB: Yeah, and I love that because safety is one that we can really get our mind around and understand how that process would flow. I can’t help being the devil’s advocate here. Sitting in many boardroom meetings, there’s so many other factors that perhaps prohibit or create a misalignment, agendas within different groups, different goals, different targets, there’s so many factors. So I guess during the course of what you do, you’re gonna find a lot of cases where you start with this total misalignment. Would that be fair to say or not?

0:18:24.0 JW: It’s interesting. We find that there are… Oftentimes, what we do is we talk about making the invisible visible. So how do you take the invisible conflicts that you just described, and give words to them so that people can talk about them in a different way. And now you’re not just walking around with all of these assumptions and beliefs in your head. I’ll give you a really quick example, we were working with a healthcare provider a few years ago, and at the executive level, there was a lot of conflict. But when you click down, in the sales organization, they had goals around hitting their numbers, like closing big deals, it was a B2B environment, closing big numbers. And then in the operations, they had goals around uptime and reliability for the systems that they were supporting. And then in the product department, they had goals that were triggered by hitting committed delivery dates. And those three goals are all in conflict with each other, because if, for example, the product group is saying, “Well, we can’t get that out by that date,” and the sales person is saying, “Well, I can’t close that deal if you don’t make that date.” And the operations people are saying, “Well, we’re not gonna be able to maintain our uptimes if we have to release… ” It created this just constant churn among the executives, because from a very practical perspective, they were working against goals that were in conflict with each other.

0:19:45.4 JW: Surfacing that, and being able to give them different language for how to talk about that within their respective groups, that’s part of the connection piece that we talk about. They weren’t connected to each other’s business models well enough to understand and appreciate the impact that different decisions were having a material impact within their groups. So that’s the kind of thing that when we’re talking about making the invisible visible, it’s like how do we bring those often assumed things to the surface? Like the sales guys would just walk around assuming that the product people didn’t understand how hard sales was. Like that was the big assumption. “They just don’t understand how hard it is to be out there selling.” And the product people are saying, “Those salespeople, they have no idea how hard it is when every single thing they sell is a custom solution, and they’re just taking the easy way out. They’re just customizing it because it’s easier to get the client to say yes to something custom rather than doing the hard work of getting them onto a standard platform.”

0:20:45.0 WB: I’m smiling because I could have that conversation almost verbatim throughout my career. I came out of that industry and that is exactly the conversation that goes on.

0:20:56.0 JW: Yeah.

0:21:00.5 WB: You have a really nice model that looks at, even once you get to that level of agreement, there’s still a gap between agreement and alignment. And I love this model and I wonder if you could go a little bit deeper on what is the gap and what’s the pitfalls that exist as a result?

0:21:19.3 JW: Yeah. We call it the Failure Gap, right? Failure gap between agreement and alignment. And I think where it shows up probably most readily for people is when there’s a big transformation effort underway. Have you done any big ERP transformations, for example, where you’re gonna implement a big system? Maybe one or two?

0:21:38.0 WB: I was with a company at one stage, and we were working on about a hundred change projects or change initiatives at the same time. So I know what it’s like to be in the midst of something like this, and it’s extremely daunting for everyone involved, but getting to even to the point of agreement is a challenge, but…

0:22:00.6 JW: A lot.

0:22:01.1 WB: Yeah, I can imagine.

0:22:02.4 JW: And that’s because it’s easy to agree in concept to the future state. Like, yes, we should be a more efficient, better technology-enabled organization, where people are able to do whatever they can in a better way. So we all agree to that. But what executives love to do is they love to change other people. But they don’t really love to change themselves. And I think that’s often in a big transformation effort, the space between agreement and alignment. Executives say, “Yep, I agree, that’s where we wanna go. I’m gonna do the change management, I’m gonna be a good sponsor, I’m gonna write the checks, whatever it is.” They’re not taking on how do they activate their own leadership? How do they activate their own change during that time? And if leaders, I’m gonna say this really clearly. If leaders aren’t changing themselves, they are not transforming their organizations.

0:22:51.6 JW: Say it one more time, if you’re not changing how you lead, you are not transforming your organization. And that’s the gap between agreement and alignment in a lot of these big transformation efforts that fail to deliver on their promises. Because everybody agrees it’s a good idea, and the work gets pushed down to the systems integrator and to the change management team, and the whole organization might be trying their best to transform, and then you’ve got this leadership level that’s just stuck in the old language of the business, they haven’t learned the new language, they haven’t learned the new reporting, they haven’t learned the new systems, and so they’re still leading to an old model. And it creates huge dissonance in the organization in terms of transformation.

0:23:40.8 WB: Yeah. I can imagine how it all plays out. All right, let’s continue with our scenario and imagine that we’ve worked through all of these steps, we’ve had that aha light bulb improvements as leaders, and we see the value, not only in agreeing, but reaching alignments and working together. Are there any immediate steps that we can take as a leadership team to start to work this transition?

0:24:09.8 JW: Yeah. Yeah, I think if people are ready to lean in and do the work, and it’s hard work, I won’t sugarcoat that. It is really important to recognize that we create shared meaning around things like, I don’t know, safety as a value, or we’re trying to transform the organization to be different, or whatever it might be, that happens in dialogue with others. And so spending time, having the right conversations is what ultimately builds and maintains alignment. And those conversations require leaders to have the courage to make the invisible visible. This is my assumption, or I believe that you’re thinking this, or what does that dynamic look like in the group dynamics across the leadership team that are driving certain outcomes. So individual mindsets and group dynamics are huge drivers of alignment.

0:25:01.9 JW: They’re also huge drivers of misalignment. If you wanna start getting more aligned, I think you have to break out of the habit of looking at what we call organizational factors, which is, “Let’s reorganize,” or, “Let’s build a new process,” or “Let’s implement a system,” or whatever. Those are organizational factors leaders like to work on those. What you really need to work on are the individual mindsets and group dynamics at a leadership level, that are influencing how they’re making trade-offs in the decisions and behaviors that they’re exhibiting.

0:25:33.1 WB: I thought I was at the end of the journey when I was preparing, and then we’ve got the alignment now, we’re all working together. And then you throw a curve ball at me and tell me now we need to go to the board and get alignment with the board. And I thought, “Heavens forbid.” I’m back to square one. How can… The board is so focused on satisfying shareholder requirements rather than the operational requirements. How do you go about that?

0:26:03.9 JW: Yeah. Yeah, and thank you for asking that question, it’s such a great question. Our board work grew somewhat organically out of our work with CEOs and their leadership teams, and we had a few CEOs say to us, “We really need our board to do this work.” So we kind of followed that path and we’ve done some really great work with boards in two ways. One is, how does the board as its own entity get aligned to deliver together on giving strategic guidance to the organization? A lot of boards have kind of grown up over time, for lack of a better way to say it, and there’s not necessarily been a lot of rigor around what does it mean to be a board member and how do you participate, and what are the business outcomes that you should be driving as a board collectively, and how do individuals participate in that? So just having those conversations at a board level is really helpful for both the individual board members and the board as a whole in terms of how they function. We do a lot of work, by the way, with privately-held companies that have boards, and that’s a little different from publicly-held companies, as you say, a publicly-held company is the board is protecting the interest of the shareholders, with a privately-held company, sometimes it takes a slightly different shape, although still in spirit, in service to the shareholders. So that gives us a little bit of a different tone.

0:27:29.1 JW: But there’s that, how do you get the board aligned? And then how does the board align with the management team to drive the business outcomes that are desired? And is that relationship contentious? Is it supportive? Is it productive? And what does it look like for the management team and the board to interact successfully together? And so establishing new ways of working there can be a really powerful motivator for the company to grow.

0:27:54.2 WB: Yeah, I can imagine. Would you actually invite members of the board to become involved, or is it more a high level informal or formal informational process? Do they get their hands in the operations or not?

0:28:13.5 JW: So not in the operations of the company, and I think that it’s really important that a board stay at the strategic level, that they’re not micromanaging the management team. The CEO and his or her team are responsible for the operations of the company. But when it comes to the operations of the board, and how the board is working, as a board, yes, we get them very involved in that process, in defining how they want to work together as a board.

0:28:39.4 WB: Right. Yeah, and a great clarification, thank you. You’ve also recently, and I don’t know how recently, but you’ve started to introduce some focus around the what, through your dynamic strategies approach. So I wonder if you’d mind just speaking to that very quickly.

0:29:03.6 JW: Yeah.

0:29:03.7 WB: What is this dynamic strategies, how does it apply with the what?

0:29:06.3 JW: Yeah. You mentioned earlier it’s kind of a chicken and an egg thing. What do you do first? The what, the why, or the how? Our experience is that companies have already spent time and money on the what and the why, and they haven’t worked on the how, and that’s where we typically come in. Often through doing the how work, what becomes clear is that the what needs more time and attention. So they’re not completely clear on the strategy and they need to do some more work there. And one thing that we really encourage people to think about is that a strategy is really a theory of what’s possible. And so what’s possible for you as a company to do in the future? And how do you think about that more dynamically, rather than a big push every year, a couple of years, to set the strategy, and then kind of put it to the side and stick it in your drawer and go back to business as usual until you come back the next year and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, we gotta do that.”

0:30:02.8 JW: So we talk about this idea of leading through your strategy, not to your strategy. So you should be leading through it every day, and making decisions based on it every day, and if you’re not, then it’s a static strategy instead of a dynamic strategy. So in our dynamic strategy work, we really encourage leaders to build a strategy that they can lead through, that will inform their decision making on a regular basis, and then to basically come back, revisit it, and update it every quarter so that you’re continually adjusting, rather than trying to make big changes every few years.

0:30:38.7 WB: Right. You have a very nice quote, I guess, on the website that says, “Strategy unexecuted is potential unrealized.” And that resonates very nicely. I’m wondering, once you then get to that strategy point again, is it this constant circling on when, where we then need to come back and look at as leaders about how we align again/ It’s almost a continuum where we’re constantly evolving with this.

0:31:11.0 JW: Yeah. I think that’s really astute, Wayne, because that continuous cycle allows you to continually refresh your strategy, and also refresh your alignment to it. And when teams get really good at that, they learn to self-reinforce, they learn to ask themselves the right questions about how are we going to lead to that strategy? And if we can’t answer that question, it probably shouldn’t be our strategy. And so you start to see those really powerful conversations taking place.

0:31:42.0 WB: Right. You have a lot of great expressions. One that you mentioned when we had our first call was, “To go far fast, give a lunge,” and that’s stuck with me ever since you said it, and I love that expression. And the other one is that, I used the word change or change management, and you corrected me and said, “We don’t talk about change because it has that connotation. We talk about leader activation.” And just looking at your model, I can really see how that plays out in the real world, not just as a nice glossy statement. So I’m taking those with me, if you don’t mind, leader activation…

0:32:21.4 JW: Excellent.

0:32:22.8 WB: As you know, I love that. So, Julie, anything you’re doing at the moment that the listeners should know about, anything you’re working on, any new programs? I know you’re working on a new book. Anything new?

0:32:34.9 JW: Yeah. Yeah, we’ve got a new book hopefully coming out in the next few months, I’ll let you know when it’s out there. And that’s gonna really dive into this idea of the how of leadership, and it’ll be sort of part field guide, part background around how could you tackle this if you wanted to, and hopefully giving people some great tools and resources for figuring out how to activate their own leadership and get aligned in those… In some really powerful ways. So we’re really excited about that. We’ve got some articles coming out on different platforms like Forbes and CEO Magazine, so you can keep an eye out for us there. And loving having the opportunity to chat with you and your audience.

0:33:12.4 WB: Yeah. I should mention, you just mentioned some articles. I spent time going through in different areas of your website, of course, and you have some great resources.

0:33:24.2 JW: Thank you.

0:33:25.3 WB: I just wanna let people know that if they go to your website, take the time, go through and look at the resources that you have there, they’re fantastic, particularly for people like myself who are interested in the consulting business as much as being a leader, some of those resources are fantastic, you have great templates. So yeah, thank you. Thank you for all that effort, because it’s all incredibly useful.

0:33:50.7 JW: Yeah. Thank you.

0:33:51.6 WB: Is there anything we haven’t spoken about today that you think our listeners would benefit from hearing?

0:33:58.8 JW: I would just remind people that alignment is something that you do with other people. So I have a famous memory of a person I was teaching a one-day workshop on collaboration. And this guy Bill, was out in the hallway the whole time on his phone and I was like, “Hey, Bill, could you come in?” And he said, “Oh, I’m fine. I know how to collaborate. It’s everybody else who isn’t doing it very well.” I was like, “No, I don’t think so, Bill.” Alignment is kind of the same way, right? You can’t be good at alignment on your own. It’s something that a team is either good at or not good at. And so really think about the power of aligned leadership as something that you bring to your team, it’s not something that you do in isolation from others. It’s a really connected way of leading, but when you get a team aligned, and they’re delivering together, the most amazing things happen. And so it’s really worth the effort to lean into that space and to think about that, how you align together as a team. Yeah.

0:35:02.9 WB: Where can people follow or connect with you or the group itself?

0:35:08.3 JW: Yeah, definitely. Please reach out on LinkedIn. I’m out there, Karrikins Group is out there as well, we’d love to connect. And the Karrikins Group website is also a great resource, as you mentioned. We’re also launching a new YouTube channel in the next month or so, it should be out in the next few weeks actually. So check us out on YouTube, we’re gonna have some really great content out there too.

0:35:28.7 WB: All right, thank you. Well, Julie, been an absolute pleasure, I’ve learned a lot. My notebook is full as usual, but thank you for sharing all your insights and experience with the team, and really look forward to staying connected.

0:35:43.1 JW: Yeah, thanks Wayne, this has been a pleasure.

[music]

0:35:47.5 S2: Thank you for joining us on the ET project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at coaching4companies.com.

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