Insights Corner

(Un)Ethical Practices

In today’s extremely competitive environment, professionals who get ahead are even more aggressive than their counterparts, aggressively going after that sale, hustling to get that next opportunity, or towing the lines to get the edge ahead of the competitor. Regardless of the “game”, at the end of the day, there is right, and then there’s wrong.

The challenge isn’t one’s ambition but their ethical practice. Professional Ethics. The guidelines determine whether the action is right, questionable, or unethical. Regardless of the reasons or excuse one gives, at the end of the day, there’s the Right Thing to do, Hustling with Zealous Integrity, or doing what’s Wrong.

Sign of the Blurring of The Grey Area

Some businesses, leaders and people with opportunities get their big break or succeed because they strive in the grey area. They learn the system, figure out the loopholes and then take advantage of them, leaving their competitors at a disadvantage without legal recourse. Do you know anyone, or are you aware of anyone in this situation?

No one ever started off blurring the ethical line in business; it evolves over time with one micro-indiscretion, then once they get away, take the bigger and bigger risk until it becomes their modus operandi.

One-way professionals start blurring the grey line is by assuming they have equal ownership of a co-worker’s work without first discussing it with them or asking, especially if that work wasn’t published for distribution.

I recalled this bitter-sweet experience a while back. My supervisor invited me to a meeting to discuss a project with one of the senior resources from head office. I felt proud being invited to the discussion requiring my professional expertise, especially since I recently earned my stripes by completing phase 1 of a multi-million-dollar project in an impossible seven months.  A project I worked tirelessly on effecting organizational change in communication, management practice and transparency at a level previously seen as too risky to the business. Working late nights to ensure that the business valued from the project and that it wasn’t just another case of software parading as a solution; being plastered on top of core issues as a fix.

Despite my youthful naivety, something felt off. It would have been more appropriate to provide a heads-up as to the organization plan instead of coming across as hijacking my work and only engaging me after they failed to understand the strategy.

Then it all shattered when I realized that the project plan they wanted to discuss was my project, copied and modified to replicate the solution in another office. Not only was my work butchered, but it was taken without any notice or heads up. Instead, I was sitting in a room with two senior members of the organization, educating them on project management, including explaining my critical and strategic thinking practices. At that moment, I felt cheated. I don’t mind sharing my work, training people, and helping when needed, but I do mind people assuming because I made it look easy that it was easy, assuming ownership and then, when they fail, to not explain or apologize, but expect me to help them.

I did it out of respect for my supervisor but lost some respect for my co-worker. Prior to this experience, I admired that person; after this, not so much.

Just Unethical:

Insider Trading, Trademark Infringement, Misleading Marketing Practices, and Manipulated Financials Statements are just a few common, highly damaging examples of unethical practices. Less obvious unethical practice includes Plagiarism, Pollution, and Abuse of Positional Power; which are decisions to pursue a course of action you know to be unethical yet decides to continue anyway because the chances of being caught are low.


Every action has consequences, whether the consequence is immediate or not. Plagiarizing someone’s work and presenting it as yours may not be called out; however, the person being cheated will eventually find out, it will be upsetting, and they will talk.

Peter Diamandis captures the essence of the consequence of unethical practice in his quote, “Bad news sells because the amygdala is always looking for something to fear.” The brain does not forget; it lives on as a lesson to remember, a message to share so others do not suffer the consequence you did, and also, because humans love justice, they will get involved when they notice an injustice being done. It is human nature in us to want others punished for their unjust behaviour.

“Bad news sells because the amygdala is always looking for something to fear.” ~ Peter Diamandis

Customer review, Social media and Networking Storytelling are means by which unjust practices can take on a life of their own; so before deciding to take an unethical risk, consider the real cost – damage to your reputation, damage to the business and even worst, your damage reputation through association, will impact those you love. It is not worth it.

Ethical, Sustainable Strategies:

Don’t despair; there are ethical strategies to give you the tools to get ahead and elevate your work experience so you stand out the right way and develop your ideas into solutions others will want to purchase. The best part is that it doesn’t have to take years; you can start benefiting in months with consistent practice. See our products page for more detail. Products – NM Corporate Strategy


If you want help or need coaching, reach out to those you admire – your mentors – because most successful people are willing to give back by helping others aspiring for success in their expertise. But do not assimilate their success as your own. This strategy may gain you short-term rewards; however, this practice will steal your credibility in the long term.

So, avoid the temptation to take the easy way out and make bad decisions which compromise yourself and the business.

It is also worthwhile to emphasize that not because you can get away with questionable action or that the other party has little to no legal recourse; doesn’t mean that it should be done.

Additional References:

Reach out to NMCS

– we provide practical strategies even the busiest leaders can execute without breaking the bank or disrupting the organization.

Why is Corporate Strategy Important?

It is common to find many senior leaders questioning the importance of having a Corporate Strategy. They question how practical it is to their current business and question the value it will create if they invest the time and resources required to develop and execute a Corporate Strategy.

This article will shed light on What a Corporate Strategy is, Why it is Important, and provide insights on How to execute a Corporate Strategy “Fit for the Purpose” of your Business.

“What is Corporate Strategy? Why it Corporate Strategy Important? How to execute a Corporate Strategy Fit for the Purpose of your business?”

What is Corporate Strategy?

In its most simple term, a Corporate Strategy is the Details and Specifics surrounding the Business’s Ultimate Goal, its “North Star”, its “Overarching Goal”; essentially, it is ultimately what the “Business wants to Accomplish”. It is more than ambitious statements citing a Vision or Mission that sounds great. It is the statements that inspire and guide the entire company’s actions.

There are many different formal and informal “versions” of a Company’s Corporate Strategy, “Fit for Purpose” acceptable Corporate Strategy could include:

  • The Business Vision & Mission, or
  • The Business Purpose Statement, or
  • The Business Value Proposition, or
  • The Founder’s Vision for creating the Business, or
  • The Leader’s Goal – what they would like to accomplish, or
  • The Business perceived Competitive Advantage and how they intend to win in the marketplace, or
  • Simply, the difference the founder wants to make through the Business;

each of which, provides management with guidance to ensure that they are optimizing their resources toward the same ultimate goals as their peers.

The Business Vision & Mission, or Purpose, are the formal versions of a Company’s Corporate Strategy, from which its Values, Value Proposition, Competitive Advantage, and Company’s Corporate & Annual Goals are defined. Goals designed to achieve the Company’s Corporate Strategy. While the last four are not officially formal Corporate Strategies, they each serve the objective of a Corporate Strategy by guiding the leadership of the Business toward common goals.

Reference: See our book, “Leadership Processes, elevating Critical & Strategic Thinking“, for our proprietary Leadership Process detailing how to unpack a Business Corporate Strategy, extracting actionable yet relevant strategies; business leaders can rally around as they aspire to achieve the Business’s Corporate Strategy. Check our product page for more detail.

Let’s look at each component of the Corporate Strategy in more detail.

The Business’s Vision Statement

The Business Vision Statement communicates the “Aspirational Goals” for the business.

The Business Vision Statement communicates the “Aspirational Goals” for the Business. Because the Vision Statement is aspirational, it is by nature non-specific. It is deliberately designed to be left open for leadership’s creative interpretations while being flexible to remain relevant despite forecasted changes in the micro and macro environment, simultaneously setting the overall direction for the Business.

Apple’s Vision Statement 2023: To make the best products on earth and to leave the world better than we found it.

Amazon Vision Statement: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” 

The leadership at both Apple and Amazon can interpret the Company’s Vision Statement to determine precisely what each phrase means. Apple left its Vision open to venture into any product area as long as it fits the “best product” criteria while executing the Business’s operations with ESG consideration. On the other hand, Amazon set clear guidelines for its leadership to create the most customer-centric company that can sell anything online. 

The Business’s Mission Statement

Mission Statement primarily communicates what the business does and for whom.

The Company’s Mission Statement cites more achievable, shorter-term tangible goals the Business can pursue that are aligned with its Vision Statement. It primarily communicates what the Business does and for whom. While there are more complex structures of a Mission Statement encapsulating more details of the Business, the two key characteristics of a Mission Statement are to define what the Business does and for whom.

Apple’s Mission Statement:bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”

Amazon Mission Statement:We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.”

Apple’s Mission statement states clearly that Apple provides innovative hardware, software and services in their products for users who appreciate a good user experience, while Amazon’s Mission statement states that Amazon’s desire to make shopping online on their platform convenient while providing a wide variety of products at the lowest possible prices. Both Apple nor Amazon state in their Mission Statements the specific products or services provided, only what their customers can look forward to.

Apple promises innovative products and excellent user experience, and Amazon promises convenient shopping with the widest variety of products at the lowest possible price.

The Business’s Purpose Statement

The Purpose Statement communicates “Why” a business exists and how its products and services benefit their customers.

It’s a general observation that a business either has a Vision-Mission driven Corporate Strategy or a Purpose driven Corporate Strategy. The differentiating factors determining whether a company is Vision-Mission-driven or Purpose-driven often are 1: The Complexity of the Business and 2: The Persona of the Business.

The Structure of the Organization combined with its Operating Model and type of services provided often dictates whether a business will have a Vision-Mission Corporate Structure or a Purpose driven Corporate Strategy.

Apple and Amazon are often perceived as unreachable by their customer base, who do not need an intimate relationship with the company to reap the full benefits of their goods and services, while Insurance type companies often rely on a more personal connection with their customers to provide excellent services; resulting in Insurance companies opting for a Purpose driven Corporate Strategy.

Allstate Purpose Statement: We help customers realize their hopes and dreams by providing the best products and services to protect them from life’s uncertainties and prepare them for the future.

When planning the Business Corporate Strategy, most Small and Medium size businesses will benefit from a more straightforward Purpose Statement Corporate Strategy; it communicates to the staff and target market what the Business is and who it serves and provides ample information for the target customer to connect with the Business.

Whereas more complex organisations will want to evaluate the pros and cons of each structure before determining which format best fits the needs of the Business.

Corporate Strategy Details

Having established that the Business Corporate Strategy is either Vision-Mission-driven or Purpose-driven, clearly stating what the Business wants to accomplish, what it does and who it serves. The next step is translating the Business’s Corporate Strategy into smaller tangible goals, objectives and actions the Business can execute.

Think of it like this. The Business Corporate Strategy is the destination the Business is hoping to arrive at, why it needs to get to that destination, and the mode of transport it will use to arrive at its destination.

The Corporate Strategy Details – the Values, Value Proposition and Competitive Advantage – are the details necessary for the Business operators to work in lockstep to achieve its Corporate Strategy. Think of it like this; the details are the plannedrequiredcessary for the Business to get to its final destination as efficiently as possible, with the best possible experience for itself and its customers, while building trust and loyalty throughout the journey.


Values are essential because values set expectations for the quality of the experience for staff and customers with every business transaction.

Theoretically, “Values” define how employees ought to behave in the daily execution of their duties and are the building blocks of the Company’s Culture.

Practically, “Company’s Culture” is the sum total of the collective behaviours of the workforce, whether the behaviours are sanctioned or not by management.

Realistically, “Values” listed in the Company’s Corporate Strategy alone do not determine Company’s “Culture” and often, in reality, the Company’s Culture is not a reflection of the Company’s Values.



The Company’s Brand is a reflection of the general public’s judgement. It’s a “sum-total” of how the staff and customers feel about their interaction with the company.

Theoretically, “Brand” is the image the Business wishes to create for the public.

In Practice, “Brand” is the Public Image the Business has because of the experience its staff and customers collectively form based on their experiences with the Business.

Realistically brand isn’t determined by a branding exercise. A branding exercise will shed light on what Brand the company should curate, with insights on how to create the desired image. However, the Company’s Brand is formed by how well the operators of the business behaviours are aligned with the image it wants to project.

The reality is most businesses’ Planned Brands, and their Actual Brand are not aligned.

Value Proposition:

Theoretically, “Value Proposition” is the value leadership want the business goods and services to create for its customers.

In Practice, “Value Proposition” is the perceived value gained by the customer from the consumption of the business goods and services.

Realistically, the “Value Proposed” and the “Value Gained” often differ for most businesses, with the Business overestimating the value created and the customers underestimating the value gained. It is advisable for the Business to frequently seek and evaluate customer feedback to determine its true value proposition, incorporating relevant insights into the creation, delivery and follow-up of its goods and services.

Competitive Advantage: 

Competitive Advantage is lessening its importance in business management primarily because it’s seen as extremely difficult to develop and execute, while the changes in technology and the economy make the information relatively obsolete relatively fast; there is little incentive for Businesses to invest the time and money to develop, and even less incentive for Small and Medium Size businesses. However, for a business to thrive and grow, it must manage a fit-for-purpose Competitive Advantage.

Theoretically, “Competitive Advantage” is how the Business differentiates itself from the competitors in a way that is more appealing to its customers than the competitors.

In Practice, “Competitive Advantage” is constructed by most using “Quality”, “Service”, “Price”, “Technology”, “Access”, and “Product” to create an offering that will win more often than the competitors.

Realistically, “Competitive Advantage” influences the target customer to believe that your products and service are more valuable than the alternatives available.

Corporate Strategy in Perspective:

The Vision – Defines Aspirational Goals the Business can eventually achieve.

The Mission or Purpose – Defines Practical Immediate Goals the Business can accomplish given its resources.

The Corporate Strategy Details – Defines the Strategies, Plans and Specific Details of how the Business will behave and operate to achieve its Mission or Purpose.

Why is Corporate Strategy Important?

In a nutshell, a business without a Corporate Strategy is synonymous with a Taxi driving without a destination.

Businesses, especially Small and Medium size businesses operate under the impression that as long as they are making money, they are doing ok; however, once the initial momentum has been exhausted, the Business begins to experience problems, and if nothing is done to solve the underlying problem correctly, it starts to decline.

The fallacy most businesses make is, believing that once a business begins to struggle, the solution is business process improvement, systems or tools, which rarely works. Why? Because any product, systems and tools layered upon inefficiencies will not resolve the underlying problem, only temporarily mask it resulting in the problems resurfacing only to frustrate management.

Dire Problem: I worked with a medium size organization citing dire problems with Professional Services, Product Development and Sales, a tangled web of weekly battles on whose fault it was that affected Sales. Product Development was forced to re-prioritize and modify its product roadmap, while Professional Services struggled to deliver on the promises made by Sales. A recurring nightmare. The Difficult Problems Leadership weren’t able to solve suddenly assigned to me. Problems that were blamed for the losses incurred monthly. Problems the traditional solutions failed to resolve.

The Solution: Clarity of the Business Corporate Strategy with relevant Corporate Strategy Details and a pivot of the Business In-Year Strategy, so the Business can resolve the root cause of the problems while redirecting its effort to focus on other revenue-generating opportunities. Only then did things truly turn around, and the Business was now able to move forward with its growth and value accretion plans.

Note: It is important to recognize that in addition to having a Corporate Strategy and the Corporate Strategy Details, EXECUTION is Key! And Execution is in the Business’s Operating Advantage, Operating Values, and Culture impact on its Brand. Reach out to us to learn more about Operating Advantages, Operating Values and Culture Impact on the Brand.

How to Start a “Fit for Purpose” Corporate Strategy?

Operating Business often falls into one of the following categories:

  • A functioning Corporate Strategy, or
  • An Ignored Corporate Strategy, or
  • A Dated Corporate Strategy, or
  • An Irrelevant Corporate Strategy, or
  • An Idea of what the Corporate Strategy is, or
  • A Wishful Idea of what the Business wants to do or achieve, or
  • No Corporate Strategy.

The challenge is for you, the leader, to determine if it is a Goal you can move forward with. Then develop the details to support the achievement of that goal. Then validate the Business’s ability to execute the activities necessary to achieve that goal.

If, however, you are either unclear as to what the Business’s Corporate Strategy is, or whether the Business Operations are strategically aligned with its written Corporate Strategy, or how to begin solving the Business’s dire problems. Start with gaining some clarity on why the Business exists and how it intends to serve its customers and ensure that you ask all the difficult questions.

Once you have clarity, communicate first to the team, then to the rest of the Business and be open to feedback on whether it’s feasible. Work through the Corporate Strategy Details and Execute!

With clarity on the Business’s Corporate Strategy and the details communicated concisely to the Business, you will begin receiving insights from your actions, decision and subordinates on where the daily activities of the business conflict with the Corporate Strategy; valuable Insights and Information you can then act on.

An idea without execution is only an idea that soon fades and dies. The same is true for a Business without a Corporate Strategy. The Business will ultimately be pulled into conflicting directions, consumed with how best to allocate its limited resources.

A simple test you can do today to help determine if the Business has an effective Corporate Strategy is to ask. Ask your leader, managers or supervisors what the business Goal is. If they are uncertain, then follow.

  1. Apply the insights provided in How to Start above, or
  2. Get our book Leadership Processes, elevating Critical & Strategic Thinking, and it will give the Leadership Process to develop a Corporate Strategy, or
  3. Contact Us, and we will help.

Final Thought: Having a Corporate Strategy (Goals) people understand is a sign that you are in control. At the same time, not having an active Corporate Strategy is a signal that the Business is reactive to the circumstances of the environment; they are being led, not leading. We understand that a business strives when the circumstances are favourable – getting lucky, and struggles when the circumstances are unfavourable. However, it is important never to take your business luck for granted; ensure that it is supported by a Corporate Strategy that serves as a lighthouse in periods of uncertainty. And DO NOT risk your Business on chances because regardless of the circumstances, with Strategic Management, you can create your own favourable circumstances.

Be Strategic! Nallanie Manick

Is it Me?

Have you ever wondered – Is It Me? Am I the reason good employees leave?

If your instincts question your ability to keep good employees, listen. It’s a sign that you have the potential to be a good leader because it is natural for good leaders to question their capabilities, their role or their contribution to any situation and take accountability. This is how they grow and how they strengthen their leadership skills. However, if, on the other hand, you believe that you are always right and never take responsibility for your Team, that’s a red flag, and it is highly recommended that you reflect, start with our Insights Corner Post – 3 Tell Tale Signs of Ineffective Management Practice. It should shed light on any blinders you may have. Then look at other articles we have on our Insights Corner blog page.

The Quote Employees don’t leave their Jobs, they leave their Bosses! “ is harsh but true. Let’s explain. 

If we are genuinely conscientious, whenever valued employees leave. We will be curious and work to get to the root cause underlying their departure, questioning ourselves to determine if there was anything we could have done differently to prevent this employee from leaving. And, in case you were wondering, hearing how much the employee loved working with you and the company is no consolation because 1: you lost a valuable employee, 2: you were caught off-guard, 3: there is now a huge gap to be filled, and 4: you now have limited time to find a replacement. If you are lucky, your employee will stay on longer than the standard 2 weeks’ notice to help train their replacement. What’s even worse is that finding the right resource isn’t as easy or economical as it used to be.

While there are genuine situations when leaders are forced to strategically manage rogue employees out of the organization – for example, when the employee employment contract binds them. There are valid situations when leaders are expected to make the tough decision and let employees go when it threatens the business, such as when:

  • The employee’s performance is unacceptable; or
  • The boss-employee relationship with the organization or Team has broken down, or
  • The employee adopted the ineffective practice of doing only enough not to get fired – quiet quitting; or
  • The employee lacked interest in the organization, or
  • The employee lacked the capabilities and skillset to do the job; or
  • The employee refused to grow or improve with the organization, etc.

To a lesser extent, there is the situation when the decision to retire someone early is forced upon us, for example, when the business finances are at risk. Leaders are asked to either trim the fat – retiring roles that are no longer nice to have, absorbing their responsibilities; or to cut costs by downsizing – retiring a certain percent of the workforce. In both situations, there is an element of the least valuable employees being let go.

What if it’s Me, not them?

It is a common annual practice for leaders to engage in Strategic Planning – an intensive exercise of reflection, problem-solving and optimistic planning for the upcoming fiscal year. A Strategic planning process seldom questions the manager’s role in losing key employees. Instead, resource planning is done with planned actions on how to better manage the workforce, putting the responsibility on HR to improve employee engagement, correct company culture issues, and develop employment procedures and policies to correct “the attrition problem”.

Food for Thought! As a Leader, have you ever had a director, manager, or supervisor accept the responsibility for losing valued employees while being committed to improving moving forward? What about you? Have you ever wondered why someone you relied on suddenly up and left? What will you discover if you play devil’s advocate?

The Truth

The truth is, when a steady stream of high-performing employees with great careers ahead of them leaves, it’s because they are leaving their bosses, not the job. Employees leave because:

  • They felt stuck and couldn’t see any solution in the organization; or
  • They have out-grown their role and do not see any exciting career prospects for them; or
  • They want growth, more responsibilities or a salary increase, and do not see the possibility of getting that growth or expansion; or
  • They felt unappreciated, unmotivated, or disenchanted with the role; or
  • They felt stressed or frustrated with the situation; or
  • They feel bullied or disrespected; or
  • You are aggressive, rude or disrespectful to them; or
  • You are continuously discrediting or unappreciative of their work,
  • Etc. The list goes on.

The A-Players

A-Players are employees who execute their duties exceptionally well, work well with others, and continuously go above and beyond to be valuable employees. Depending on which camp you are in, you see A-Players as either an asset or a threat.

Strong leaders value other A players in their Team because they believe that the more expertise in the Team, the stronger the Team and the better the Team will perform. The better the Team performs, the better they perform. Whereas, leaders lacking confidence in their capabilities often feel threatened when A-players join their Team. The adage of the employee vying for their boss’s job is built on the premise of an insecure boss. Followed closely by the ‘bad boss” cliche in which the boss does everything in their power to discredit the good work of their employees while taking all the credit whenever possible. The message is not to get pulled into the drama but to be mindful of any biases based on your own insecurity and to do something about it.

If by chance you’re a product of the so call ‘bad boss’, learn from the experience, learn from your ‘bad boss’ what NOT To Do! Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you are already a leader with the positional power to hire, fire and shape the careers of those reporting to you. Those above also look upon you to grow your unit in lockstep with the rest of the business. However, if you ignore your limitations, your good employees will ultimately leave you for better bosses, and you will end up with a team of employees with low potential or employees who are too afraid to leave.

What can be done?

It is understood that with the current economic situation, and the current state of the business, managers may feel as if there are limited opportunities to address some of the issues listed under “The Truth”. However, there are strategies management can use to increase employee satisfaction outside of a promotion or salary increase. Three Strategies to consider if any of the points discussed in “The Truth” exist in your unit:

1: Create Opportunities for employees to strive within your unit.

Condition:: Within every Team, there are employees seeking opportunities to showcase their capabilities, take on more responsibilities, or grow within the Team.

How:: Delegate – Managers can fulfil the employees’ desires by delegating.

  • Delegate special projects to your hard-working excited employees,
  • Delegate leadership opportunities to eager employees to speak on specific issues,
  • Delegate administrative opportunities to passionate employees to prepare presentations for the Team,
  • Delegate problem-solving opportunities to the consultant within the Team to find solutions for challenges within the Team, etc.

Opportunities which will satisfy your ambitious employee’s appetite for growth, more responsibilities, and recognition without increasing the unit’s payroll cost; with the added benefit of increasing employee engagement and improving productivity within your function. Not to mention the ripple effect of enriching the quality of your leadership within the organization because when your unit thrives, you thrive.

2: Improve Culture within your Team.

Condition:: A team is dysfunctional when team members display high levels of stress and frustration and are generally unhappy. There is a high attrition rate, and much of your time is spent managing team issues and complaints.

How:: Respect – at the core of a healthy team is respect. It is one of the most important building blocks of productivity and success because when people respect each other, they work better together.

  • When a manager respects their employees, their employees:
    • Feel safe enough to speak up, and they speak up more,
    • Take pride in their work, increasing productivity,
    • Contributes more, going above and beyond to help their bosses.
  • When managers practice respect they:
    • Seek feedback and input from their subordinates,
    • Listen to the ideas and feedback from their subordinates,
    • They lead as a team – less as a dictator.
  • When managers encourage respect among team members:
    • Team members learn to trust each other more and are more comfortable working together,
    • Team members collaborate more, and they feel safe sharing ideas and getting feedback,
    • Team members develop friendships and enjoy working together, improving morale and productivity,
    • A manager’s job is more manageable, less stressful and enjoys greater productivity.

Regardless of the state of the Team, Respect is one of the most impactful solutions any leader can implement to cultivate a healthy team culture. It has the power to transform any dysfunctional team into a high-functioning results-oriented team.

You see, several years ago, when I was introduced as the leader of a five-function team, my introduction was met with resistance. It was obvious that in this Team of experts, each expert believed that they were better than their peers and demonstrated very little respect for each other or each other’s work. We needed to leverage their expertise while putting their egos into check to succeed. A policy of non-negotiable respect was implemented, and within three months, we went from a dysfunctional combative work practice to a collaborative problem-solving one, delivering one successful project after another.

It wasn’t easy and will not be easy for you; however, the experience was highly rewarding.

3: Level Up Your Management Practice. 

Respect is fundamental to keeping high-calibre employees from leaving, but alone it is not sufficient. Managing a team of high performers, people who grow, and people who are continuously levelling up their skills and capabilities; demands managing all aspects of their employment. Our February Insights Corner Article –  Remote Management – Straight Talk  – provides tools, strategies and insights on how to level up your management practice so you develop a more holistic approach to managing the entire employee’s experience.

Read this article to identify gaps in the 6-core management duties, and use the 4-Pillars of Management Practice to develop your management practice to attract and retain the best employees.

Yes, It’s Me!

Why? Because ultimately, you are responsible for your Team, and valued employees don’t just up and leave if they are happy, heard or feel as if they are part of a team. Before they even think of leaving, employees will discuss their ambitious desires with you, giving you an opportunity to find an opportunity for them or to find and train a replacement to minimize the negative impact of their departure on you and your Team.

Every article you read, every seminar you attend, and every opportunity you seek to improve must end with action.

From this article:

  1. Make a list of improvements you would like to see in your Team,
  2. Understand what the employee engagement levels are,
  3. Identify gaps in your management practice and use your experience and knowledge combined with the insights from this article and the two additional reading references below to devise “Fit for Purpose” strategies for your Team.
  4. Read the two additional reading material references below.

Additional Reading:

  1. Insights Corner Article: 3 Telltale Signs of Ineffective Management Practices 
  2. Product: Leadership Processes, elevate Critical & Strategic Thinking

Be Strategic,

Written by Nallanie Manick, MBA, PMP, B.Sc.




Remote Management – Straight Talk

Remote Management – Straight Talk

The COVID-19 pandemic thrust organizations – via trial by fire – into managing the operations of the business remotely. While some managers thrived, others struggled, resulting in trust issues and resorting to micro-management in an attempt to maintain gain control over the situation.

So what exactly accounts for the difference between these two groups of managers, and what exactly should new managers hired to manage remotely be aware of so they don’t make the same mistakes as their less successful peers?

Management Duties:

There is an avalanche of information online on management: how to manage, management styles, and tools managers can use to manage more effectively, so it will not be beneficial for us to replicate that information here but to develop a baseline on which to build on, later on. To truly understand what differentiates effective remote managers from those who struggle, let’s look at the 6 core duties of a manager.

  1. Plan – plan the work needed to achieve the objectives assigned to the unit through its manager.
  2. Act – execute the plan by hiring and managing the resources needed to do the work required to achieve the unit’s objectives.
  3. Direct – direct subordinates in the execution of their duties to achieve the unit’s objectives.
  4. Control – control the progress and quality of work completed to achieve the unit’s objectives.
  5. Measure – measure how effectively the team worked to achieve the unit’s objectives.
  6. Lead – create an environment in which the unit function optimally to achieve the unit’s objectives.

It is undeniably much easier for any manager to execute their duties in the office. However, despite some managers successfully executing their responsibilities in the office, the fact that the pandemic highlighted remote management disadvantages such as an increase in lack of trust and more aggressive micro-management; remote management demands some intentional attention.

4-Pillars of Intentional Management

Intentional Remote Manager

Ultimately, outside of one’s education and technical knowledge, intentional action is what differentiates an effective manager from an equally qualified, less poor manager. They dedicate the time and effort to question what they are doing and why, deliberately considering all factors holistically before deciding how to act—developing their critical thinking skill by proactively seeking opportunities to improve.

Intentionality is one of the reasons one group of managers thrive while others struggle. A person taking on a new role as a remote manager can improve their chances of succeeding by executing their managerial duties within these 4-Pillars of Intentional Management.

Intentionality. The word intentionality is powerful because it embraces thought-provoking practices. It encourages someone to pause to consider their objective, their resources, and the task in front of them before acting. It’s satisfying when you experience a manager managing intentionally, and awkward or painful to observe a manager managing without intentionality. So how can a manager increase the chance that they will thrive by adopting a practice of intentional management? 

Pillar 1: Build Relationship & Trust:

The foundation of Effective Management is Trust, which cannot be manufactured but only develops through the relationships a manager builds with their subordinates. On the plus side, whenever we meet someone for the first time, we assign a certain amount of trust because we automatically assume that because of the trusting environment within which this connection was made, this person is to be trusted. However, trust needs to be nurtured and earned with every interaction, with their behaviours, communication, and interaction either strengthening or eroding their initial trust in someone.

In a work environment, trust exists in the form of managers trusting that their subordinates will get the job assigned to them done, managers, trusting that their subordinate will complete their tasks diligently, and subordinates trusting that their managers will support them in the execution of their duties. This trust though initially given, is reinforced by the relationships you build. Here are a few questions to get a new remote manager started:

  • Who are your subordinates, and what do they do?
  • What are they interested in, and why are they part of this team?
  • How do your subordinate want to contribute, and what are they passionate about?
  • What are their strengths and skill sets, and how is it being leveraged?
  • What are their weaknesses, and what, if anything, is being done to overcome them?
  • What are their concerns, and what, if anything, is being done to address them?
  • Which, if any, of your subordinates are disengaged and why?

When managers demonstrate an interest in the people reporting to them, it inspires them to work with their managers to achieve the unit’s objectives.

Pillar 2: Roles & Responsibilities:

Having clarity on one’s role and responsibilities, meaning what they are responsible for and how they are expected to deliver that responsibility, is fundamental for the alignment between a manager and their subordinate. It is even more critical for a remote manager not in the same building or location as their peers and critical for productivity, which is necessary for efficiency and a functional unit. Conversely, a lack of clarity on one’s role and what they are responsible for only leads to frustration, exasperating the challenges of a remote manager who can resort to micro-management to gain control of the unit.

A few questions to get clarity started on your subordinate’s role and responsibility:

  • What’s every subordinate responsible is?
  • What is necessary for each person to deliver on their responsibilities?
  • What is missing or impacting a subordinate from delivering on their responsibilities?
  • What are the Protocols for escalation when someone’s ability to do their job is impacted, and are your subordinates aware of these protocols?
  • What are the unit norms for resolving conflict, and is it effective?

It is highly recommended as you dive into the exercise above to:

  1. Seek to understand what they do and why, and ensure you gain alignment and consensus on each person’s role and responsibility.
  2. Listen first and only after developing the big picture of how everyone contribute toward your unit goals and objective, then manage.
    • It’s understood that your superiors expect you to execute your duties during the transition phase, so rely on your judgement and your team’s expertise to execute the unit’s day-to-day operations.
    • Don’t be one of those managers who join an organization; the first thing they do is tell everyone else what to do and how to do it without first understanding their point of view; this will only frustrate your subordinate, making your remote management task unnecessarily difficult.
  3. Develop your metrics and system to measure productivity, progress and performance while developing your system to motivate and support the team.

So when starting a new role as a remote manager, prioritize trust and relationship so you deliver your best and, in turn, get the best from your subordinates.

3: Communication Plan & Strategies:

Communication is the means and modes of sharing your plans and ideas with your team, seeking feedback, and instructing your team to act. The sad truth is that poor communication is often at the root of all dysfunction and managerial issues. Why? In Part 4 of the Strategic Initiative Miniseries, we highlighted that communication channels are generally open and functioning when things are going well. However, communication clogs begin forming with the development of issues, concerns, or the fear of being in trouble. It is safe for any manager to assume that when things aren’t going well, it is because of a breakdown in communication at one or many points in the transaction process.

Every manager’s communication style is unique and specific to their management style, management of sensitive information and the demands of their unit, so it will not be beneficial to recommend communication strategies in this article that are “fit for your purpose”. Three points a new remote manager should take note off:

  • Develop your functional system for relevant transparency and communication with the team, one meeting the needs and demands of individual team members as well as the demands of the combined team.
  • To minimize clogs, ensure that relevant and essential information reaches your desk promptly so you can act, and create avenues and opportunities for issues to be raised and discussed in ‘safe spaces,’ which encourages team members to reach out and share their concerns with you.
  • Keep all communication respectful, regardless of the stress, frustration or anger other parties demonstrate.

Effective communication is at the core of every successful manager’s ability to execute their duties, without which they lack the information to make informed decisions in a timely manner, impacting their ability to control and guide their subordinate to achieve the unit’s objectives. So prioritize effective communication if you ought to have a chance to thrive as a remote manager.

4: Plan & Growth:

Managers, in addition to directing and controlling the work necessary to achieve the current goals and objectives of the unit, are also responsible for developing plans to grow and improve their units to coherently grow with the business. In all my roles, I keep a diary of ideas, capturing ideas and thoughts that would make my duties easier and more efficient or with observations on how the organization can effect change in areas of concern. I developed this practice because creativity is spontaneous and likely triggered by ongoing activities and events. You see, not all creative ideas come to you during Planning or strategizing because not all aspects of the operations of the business are engaging during this activity. It is worthwhile to develop your remote management practice with the following considerations in mind:

  • Growth and Planning is a year-round effort: identifying, evaluating and curating information throughout the year.
  • Collect and Assess Productivity ideas and Feedback from your team year-round, extracting ideas and information during team meetings, one-on-ones and other communications with the team. Information that could supplement or rule out growth ideas during the annual planning activity.
  • Ideas or plan without supplementary data to support it is futile. Throughout the fiscal year, measure critical success factors and forecast to ensure that based on your current and planned activities, the unit is trending to deliver on its objectives while simultaneously using the information to plan for the upcoming year.

In Summary:

In the last twelve months, we have seen an increase in roles for remote managers, directors, VP and C-suite resources, with remote work not relating to the pandemic but a shift in business management. The benefits of this strategic shift include a reduction in the cost of office space, the organization having access to a wider range of qualified resources and even a reduction in the need for relocation costs to incentivize high-calibre candidates to join your organization. On the flip side, the increase in remote management has seen a reduction in productivity resulting from the corrosions of organizational culture, as managers and employees find ways to rebalance productivity and work remotely.

Strategic Human Insights Image

The bad news continues with an increased number of employees quitting their jobs, citing frustration, stress and disenchantment as the reasons for resigning. This reminds me of the popular saying, “Employees don’t leave organizations; they leave their bosses.” I recall telling my supervisor on our one-on-one, only a few months working under his leadership, that I was disenchanted. You see, he practically joined the organization as a remote manager and made changes without considering how the role was executed, which made executing my duties difficult.

Don’t make this mistake in haste because, despite your expertise, goals, objectives, and managerial style, you only succeed if your team succeeds.

Intentionally manage the 4-pillars as detailed in the 4 pillars of Intentional Management in the execution of the 6-Managerial Duties to deliver on your  Unit’s Goals and Objectives. 

What do you think? What other pillars of success can the savvy remote manager provide to help the up-and-coming leaders in their group?


For more information on individual topics to supplement your Intentional Management, check out our Insight Corner articles and videos here

And if you’re interested in Elevating your Critical & Strategic Thinking Skills – check out this book on Amazon. A game-changing handbook you will not want to lose.

I’ll leave you with this quote, and choose every day to be strategic!

Risk or Negativity?

Risk or Negativity?

Are you part of an organization incurring NO RISKS, or without negative concerns crossing your desk? If you think so, you’re unaware or have a blinder risk. 

Did you know leaders can easily mix up a Risk and Negativity – Negative Opinion – if they are not careful? Why? Because Leaders are busy and responsible for the overall business, including its performance, growth, and employees. Leaders are expected to outperform the competition in an increasingly globalized marketplace. They are preoccupied and have very little time left for the Debbie Downers in the business.

Only you know how you assess the issues that cross your desk, whether the risks are evaluated based on merit or discounted due to personal biases. Biases such as the person’s negative tone, the negativity of the issue, or how the issue was raised. This article discusses tips and strategies to minimize biases while providing strategies to effectively discuss and differentiate between risk and negativity.

Risk is not a bad word“. Do you know any team that sees risk as a bad thing, people who perceive risks as criticisms or a personal attack on their performance? Teams that labelled risk bearers as people who saw the glass-half-empty, negative or pessimistic. Experience reveals that the topic of risk makes most people uncomfortable, which can lead to premature dismissal of a risk as negativity. What can be done if this is a possibility is to build awareness, develop the awareness to differentiate between risk and negativity and recognize the subtle behaviours and prejudices that can cause someone to discount risk as mere negativity.

What is a Risk?

A basic definition of Risk is Risk is the possibility of something going wrong. In a business environment, risks are dependent on other business activities. More commonly, risks are discussed in conjunction with a new investment, project or the decision to do something differently. The business decision to take action is designed to achieve a result that would not be possible otherwise. The actions create the opportunities within which the risk can happen.

The downside of avoiding risk is the business continuing on its current path – playing it safe – which, based on current projections, will cause the business to stagnate, decline, or incur losses. This reminds me of one of my all-time favourite quotes by Charles Darwin,  “It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.” Business needs to evolve to survive.

It is important to recognize that Risks are not simple subjective statements of possible adverse outcomes but Analytical Hypothetical Theories comprising the following characteristics.

  • A Decision can lead to certain risky events happening in the future. However, there are no guarantees that the events will occur, only a likelihood that the events could occur.
  • The business will suffer Negative Consequences if the risky events do occur.
  • The business will determine if the negative consequence is something that it will accept as an acceptable cost for growth or a consequence to be minimized.
  • The business can minimize or eradicate the negative consequences of the risk only if they act. The business can assess whether there are Actions that can either reduce the negative impact of the threat or eradicate it.

If the business ought to grow, improve and survive against new and existing threats, the business must take on risks – A logical though unpleasant activity inherent in the management of a business.


Negative feedback, opinions, or concerns are conclusions made without any logical reason to support the conclusion. It can be construed as a fear response to a decision or action taken by the business.

There is value in someone having instincts based on experience; however, it is not acceptable to use years of experience as the only justification. A responsible person will not ignore their intuition but apply critical thinking to evaluate it. At a minimum, the person should state, based on their experience, the evidence indicates that if certain actions are pursued, the following events will occur, which will negate the benefit of the action in the following ways, and list out the impact on the business; and use their experience to provide the context within which others can use to evaluate their concern.

It is worthwhile to be mindful that negativity has no logic behind it. No case can justify taking up the valuable time of your busy leaders to consider your negative opinions. If a negative opinion is worth discussing, it is the responsibility of the person raising the issue to engage in some critical thinking; otherwise, they risk their contribution being discounted. And remember, as aspiring leaders, it is worthwhile to engage in critical thinking as often as possible; it will create better arguments both for and against an idea and elevate you as a thought leader in the business.

Why are Risks Not Simply Someone’s Negative Opinion?

There was a recent public debate on “unconscious bias”. On the one hand, it was argued that it is the organization’s responsibility to educate their teams on unconscious bias; while the opposing argument was, how could you know if it is unconscious bias? This logic cannot be used to differentiate between risks and just negativity.

Why? Because it’s the leader’s responsibility to equip themselves with the tools necessary to effectively evaluate risk. Leaders know that there are both know-unknowns and unknown-unknowns when it comes to identifying and managing risks, and they cannot rely on others to think for them. They recognize that they cannot just discount negative feedback but follow the thinking of the person raising the issue to evaluate whether it’s a risk or not.

  • Risks are founded on Sound Business Judgement, Information and Scenario Forecasting. At the same time, Negativity lacks insights and is based on emotions, fear or being overly cautious, without any evidence to support the concern.
  • Risk promotes the proactive management of the business, task, or project, while Negativity promotes judgements and arguments.

Thus, whether an issue is a potential risk or an overly pessimistic reaction is not always immediately apparent. If not, here are a few questions to help evaluate the issue to determine whether it’s a risk or pessimism.

  • Why is this a concern?
  • How will it impact the task, project or business?
  • What information do you have to support this thinking?
  • What further information do I need to determine if further action is required?
  • What are the consequences of ignoring this concern?
  • What are the consequences of pursuing this concern?
  • What resources do I need to redirect to evaluate this concern, and is it worth it?
  • What are the scenarios that will make this thinking a reality?
  • What if anything can be taken to avoid negative consequences?

Why are Risks easily confused for Negativity?

Risks are easily confused for Negativity and vice versa because Risk and Negativity share several superficial traits. Superficial because they appear the same only at the surface level; when digging a little deeper, risks are not just an adverse knee-jerk reaction to some activity in the business.

  • Both Risk and Negative Opinions are possible adverse outcomes if the business decides to pursue certain activities. Risk is a result of an analytical process, clearly that there is a likelihood of a negative consequence if certain conditions are met. At the same time, negativity results from unsubstantiated fear or worry.
  • Both Risk and Negative Opinions are discussed with a degree of urgency and concern. Risks discussion takes the form of an assessment discussion, while negative opinion takes the form of complaining.
  • Both Risk and Negativity are possible negative future outcomes. Risk is a possible forecasted outcome if certain conditions are met, while negativity is the fear bad things will happen if the business decides to move forward with a decision.
  • Both Risk and Negative Opinions are the results of either an action or a decision the business is considering. Risk is a discussion of possible things that can go wrong with a plan to prevent it while working towards acquiring the benefits of this action. While on the other hand negative opinion is a recommendation not to pursue the planned action for fear that something will go wrong.

In addition to the above Risk and Negativity superficial traits, other reasons why risk can easily be perceived as just another glass-half-empty point of view.

  1. Communication Strategy: When people are concerned or worried about something going wrong, they often start the conversation with the most urgent news first – the bad news. The news people can interpret as negativity.
  2. Timing: Poor timing is another reason people may rashly judge an attempt to discuss risk as negativity. If you spring bad news on their supervisor at an inopportune time, your supervisor is more likely to view the information as negative; especially if they lack the time or context to consider it further.
  3. Personalities: It is not logical, right or wrong, and not something anyone wants to admit; however, there is no denying the fact that some conversations are more effortless with people who are like us; and much more difficult with people who oppose us – opposes our style or preference. It is much easier to conclude that the news bearer is negative when their personalities conflict with our own.

Experience makes it easier for leaders to differentiate risk from an over-concern employee’s negative opinion. However, even with experience and tenure, some issues will cross a leader’s desk that will challenge them. When it is not obvious whether an issue raised is a risk, start by gleaning more information using the questions listed above, and use the risk characteristics discussed to differentiate risk from an opinion; and remember, the risk is based on a logical assessment of possible future conditions that can result in potential losses.

A word of caution, avoid labelling staff as negative, or the glass-half-empty type of people, because:

  • Business is a fluid entity in which things are always evolving. At times risks may not be fully fleshed out in the minds of employees; however, with some guidance and a collaborative discussion, the ideas can be fully developed or confidently ruled out. This process is also a valuable coaching opportunity for leaders as they develop their teams. There was this incident a few years back in which an employee raised a high impact, high likelihood risk with their supervisor. The risk was dismissed for reasons that were unsatisfactory to the employee, who was visibly concerned. However, the risk materialized later, costing the business a material sum and a customer. Suffice to say; the cost would have been insignificantly less if the issue had been addressed when raised.
  • Not everyone is a savvy communicator, and when put in the spotlight to address a complicated issue with an impatient group, the stress of the situation can override the urgency and importance of the issue. When nerves and fear compound concerns, it can exasperate the situation making the message more aggrieved than the communicator intended. Ruling it out as negativity instead of a possible risk.

Thus far, the focus has been on leaders, the people having to determine whether the issue raised is a risk or not. Despite knowing, it is a leader’s responsibility to lead; an employee raising a risk also has a responsibility to ensure that they get their facts straight and do some due diligence – critical thinking – before discussing with their boss. It would benefit them significantly to minimize the chances that they are crying wolf. The next section focus on the employee, the person who is responsible for bringing a possible risk to the attention of their supervisor.

Strategy to Discuss Risk.

Whether you’re a leader, an aspiring leader, or a subordinate, communication is about conveying your message in a way the receiving party understands. Effective communication is about understanding what is important, how the message will be communicated and when best to communicate the message. If communication is such a common everyday activity; then why are so many messages dismissed and critical information missed? Because; the person communicating their message was not able to communicate their thoughts clearly, and/or the person receiving the message either did not have the time or was not interested in decoding it.

It is understood that the bigger the impact on the risk bearer, the more emotionally charged they may be, and the greater the likelihood that the message will be communicated poorly. It is equally likely that the message will not be received well and will be easily dismissed. Pay heed to your emotional response to the different risk situations you find yourself in, pause, take a breather and think through the risk in the steps below. Do the work and improve your chances that your boss will entertain your concern. Don’t do the work and risk being dismissed. 

1. Analyze your Bad News:

Whenever someone anticipates something bad that could potentially happen, it is their responsibility to put that concern into perspective so the people responsible can understand and act. Avoid dramatization and sensationalization to get their attention. Initially, dramatization may work; however, eventually, people with catch on and your strategy will fail because no one likes the sky is always falling strategy.

It is highly recommended if time permits to do some diligence before interrupting your boss with a potential concern. Review the questions above, and gather some information before approaching your boss. If this thinking is new to you, it may take some effort initially; however, with practice, you will be able to assess each concern much more efficiently.

Caution, if the issue is time sensitive and critical, do not sit on it trying to evaluate it yourself.

2. Understood “facts”:

When deciding how to communicate bad news to others, it is important to understand the possible impact of that news on the other person. Sine understood “facts” to consider.

  • It is understood that when some people anticipate news they don’t want to hear, they automatically tune you off. If this is the case with your supervisor, then be mindful of this fact and find ways to reframe the news in a way that will not lose their attention.
  • It is understood that the less likely the negative event is, the more likely it is to be park it. Understanding that leaders are frequently bombarded by urgent imminent issues; if it is not detrimental or communicated with urgency, it risks being discounted. If this is the case, find a way to share the urgency and criticality of the issue without inflating it.
  • It is understood that the more complicated an issue, the more likely the urgency or importance will not be communicated and the greater the likelihood it will be dismissed. Complexity requires focus and someone’s attention. If your supervisor’s attention is in limited supply, find a way to summarise it so they understand the urgency in one minute or less. Once you capture their attention, they will dedicate the time to hear you out.
  • It is understood that if something isn’t relevant to the person, it can be minimized or dismissed. If you want your supervisor to pay attention, determine how it would impact them and ensure the importance is communicated.

3: Use the You Frame:

Dale Carnegie’s training teaches us that the best way to get a person’s attention is to talk about what is valuable to them, and what is interesting to the other person. He also advised that the best way to get someone to listen to what you have to say is to speak about them to them. This concept is referred to as using the You-Frame. The You-Frame restructures the message using the word “You” instead of “I”, “Me”. When you use the word “you”, it makes the message about them, grabbing their attention.

Caution: Do not make something about the other person if it is not about them. But, frame your communication from their perspective as it emphasizes the importance of this issue to them, thus encouraging further discussion on the topic.

4: Structure and Presentation:

Structure and Presentation are at the core of effective communication. It is even more important to communicate effectively when the stakes are high when there is a very real risk that jeopardizes your project, your supervisor, the business or you. It is important to develop the skills to concisely communicate this risk in a manner that is easy to understand to bring attention to the urgency and importance of the issue.


  • State the Risk;
  • State the Impact on the Business, Person, Project or item;
  • State the urgency of risk;
  • State the help needed and by when.

Presentation guidance:

  • Communicate clearly, avoid being too wordy;
  • Avoid repeating yourself;
  • Avoid exaggeration, dramatization, or overly stating the importance;
  • Use professional language;
  • Avoid assigning blame;
  • Avoid or minimize emotional outbursts; and
  • Do not make it personal.

The above procedure will provide context, urgency and sufficient information for your supervisor to determine the urgency of the issue and, if they deem it necessary, to allow time to discuss further or dismiss it with an explanation.

In Summary.

It is unacceptable for leaders to assume the position “what you don’t know you are not responsible for” or “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. Leaders are responsible for the business and must operate at a higher, more responsible level. So when information crosses their desk, it is their duty to evaluate it properly, to make an informed judgment using rationale and logic, not render it useless based on biases.

It is straightforward for someone to conclude that a possible risk is just some Debbie Downer seeing ‘The Glass Half Empty’. However, Regardless of how busy you are, there are effective critical thinking strategies to help determine whether the issue raised is a risk and tips and insights to minimize biases when making that decision.

As a bonus, the strategies serve as an excellent critical thinking risk determination framework for aspiring leaders.

Finally, even if you are an aspiring leader, take ownership of your issue assessment and risk communication. Gather the information, think through the issue using the guidelines provided and formulate your strategy so your point gains the attention you want it to get while developing your critical thinking skills, which will gain the respect and admiration of your peers and supervisors.

The only challenge is putting in the effort to be more effective in either your role as a leader or employee when evaluating whether a concern is a risk or a fear response to be dismissed with an explanation and avoid labelling anyone as either a Debbie Downer or someone who sees the Glass Half Empty or being labelled as a rash and dismissive leader.

Final Act:

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to find other cost-effective, minimally disruptive strategies to help your business.; 289-201-2245.

Be Strategic!

Written by Nallanie Manick, Principal & Founder @ NM Corporate Strategy Inc.

Operating Cost Hidden in Plain Sight

Operating Cost Hidden in Plain Sight.

It is without a doubt that the pandemic has changed the operating landscape in most businesses; whether this change is short-term or has longer-term implications is yet to be seen. However, the pandemic cannot take all the credit for the extent to which high operating costs are hidden within the business’s daily operations. As businesses ride the tail end of the pandemic as well as enter into a new year plagued with uncertainty – a war threatening Europe, unstable economies in most countries around the globe – it is highly recommended that leaders become more mindful of the high operating costs hidden within the business operating activities; and manage it.

This article will look at a few examples of ‘operating costs hidden in plain sight’ and provide recommendations to better manage them.

“Action & Consequences” .

“How we do Anything is How we do Everything”.

We were raised to believe that action has consequences. If we do what we are supposed to, we are rewarded; if not, we forego the reward. Then life became more complicated, and rewards were no longer linearly linked to our actions but to a series of actions executed successfully, in a particular sequence, over a period of time. Still, we were able to see the link between our actions and rewards; we will persevere, learn and grow.

However, when we make poor decisions, waste time, procrastinate, do shoddy work, or avoid doing what we know we must do, the results are less than favourable, we are disappointed, we are disciplined, and we are not happy. This is quite simple to recognize and isolate in our personal lives. “I dear you, try forgetting your significant other birthday and see what happens. The consequence will not be favourable.”

“Action & Consequences in Business”.

“Everything is Connected”.

How do Product Defects Increase the Business Operating Cost?

Similarly, in business – Action or Inaction has consequences which can be difficult to identify, quantify and forecast; because business is a complex web of interconnected and interrelated activities. An example of this is extracted and demonstrated in the diagram: “How do Product Defects Increase the Business Operating Cost?”

Inaction: It is understood that businesses – Managers and Leaders – have limited resources, are busy, and seldom have the liberty to redirect limited resources to immaterial, low-priority items. So what is the long-term consequence of inaction? A subtle yet noticeable trend of unexplained increases in the business operating cost. What can be done about it? Let’s start by looking at two examples of how high operating costs can be hidden within normal business activities to better understand what actions can be taken to manage it.

Examples of Operating Cost Hidden in Plain Sight.

Example 1: Tardiness.

Tardiness is an acceptable cost to running a business, is quite common and comes in many forms. Such as arriving late to work, leaving early, having extended lunch and taking multiple long breaks during the work day. Managers accept that their staff will sometimes arrive late and take an extended lunch or require more frequent breaks when undertaking stressful tasks; they would account for these exceptions when planning their budgets. However, when tardiness shifts from normal to abnormal, from budget to excessively above budget, it becomes an extra cost to the business—becoming in excessive operating cost hidden in plain sight when its flexibility is abused, misused or allowed to continue unchallenged or corrected.

What do the Numbers Say?

Scenario: Arriving 10 minutes late to work consistently.

  • Assuming the annual average salary is $50k, the operator is a billable staff who bills over 80% of their time.
  • One person arriving at least 10 minutes late daily increases the operating cost of the business by over $1080 a year.
  • Two persons arriving at least 10 minutes late daily are estimated to cost the business over $2160 annually.

The opportunity cost of inaction is $1080 for one person or $2160 for two persons, and the risk that other employees within the organization will soon follow suit. Also, it is worth mentioning that the greater the staff’s annual salary, the greater the cost of tardiness is to the business. Further, increasing the operating cost of the business simply because it increases the number of people required to get the same job done, increasing its headcount without an equivalent increase in output.

Caution: I’m not recommending that leaders clamp down unreasonably on every minor tardy infraction. No! Absolutely Not! That will be cruel and brutal, and before you know it, you will have created an unhealthy work environment filled with underachievers. The recommendation is to be mindful of any changes in tardiness, understand the reason behind it and act. Either adjust the employee work arrangement so there is win-win agreement between you and your staff or reinforce the business employment policies.

The Purpose of this example is to connect the dots between deliberately abused tardiness and the operational cost to the business, and increasing leaders’ awareness of the consequences of inaction against tardiness to the business. If tardiness is becoming a noticeable issue, SMBs leaders are encouraged to work with their staff to better understand what is causing it and find win-win solutions. Solutions that benefit the organization and the employee without inadvertently allowing tardiness to increase the business operating cost. 

Example 2: Meeting Distractions.

It is not surprising, that meeting distractions made the list of activities, unnecessarily increasing the business operating cost. In a 2019 article by Chuck Murphy, which stated, “We’re bombarded by distractions every day. Whether a notification on our phones, a ping on our desktops or a vibration on our Apple watches, endless distractions shift our daily routines.” The article continued, “In fact, a study by Microsoft concluded that the human attention span has dropped to eight seconds – shrinking nearly 25% in just a few years.” He cited in the article that one of the main reasons for this drop in our attention span is the need for instant gratification.

This need for instant gratification is front and centre in the meeting room. Attendees regularly checking their messages, email, and not-so discretely scrolling through social media while someone else is speaking. Justifying their inefficient practice with the increasingly popular excuse of having to stay on top of things. Gone are the days when most meetings were short, concise and successfully concluded with minimal disruptions – conducted efficiently. 

So what are the consequences of today’s meeting distraction?

  1. One possible outcome of meeting distraction is longer meetings.
    1. One reason meetings are longer is because attendees spend time rehashing information previously discussed while they are distracted.
    2. A second reason meetings are getting longer is because the meeting organizer is catering to distractions without, realizing that the reason for the long time is because of distractions.
  2. Another possible outcome of meeting distractions is more meetings.
    1. One reason for having more meetings per subject is because most attendees do not have the luxury to stay in meetings longer than scheduled, and as such additional meetings need to be scheduled to complete the items on the agenda.
    2. A second reason for having more meetings per subject is because the attendees cannot spend more than a certain amount of time in a meeting without disrupting their day, or having to push other items on their agenda.
    3. A third reason for having more meetings per subject is because of reworks, changes or incomplete work. When attendees are distracted during a meeting, important information is missed and this can impact the completion of any action items assigned to them.

What are the Numbers?

Example one provided context on how inefficiency increases the operating cost of a business. The same applies for the additional time spent in meetings. Regardless of whether that additional time is spent due to additional meetings or longer meetings, the opportunity cost of the time spent in meetings is time spent on other productive items.

A rough estimate to calculate the additional time a team spends in meetings a year is equivalent to:

  • Number of additional hours a month spent in meetings:
  • * average hourly rate of all attendees
  • * number of attendees
  • * 12 weeks

As part of a business case I once prepared for a medium size company with a relatively large leadership team, the hidden conservative annual operating cost embedded in the business management meetings was over $70k a year, and this excluded the other unquantifiable impacts on the business.

The Purpose of this example is to raise awareness of how easy it is for businesses to burn cash in meetings. In an increasingly digital world, with the increasing demand for a person’s time, it is quite easy for leaders not to question the amount of time meeting attendees are distracted during a meeting when the only reason for their attendance is their attention and contribution. If this is a concern, then encourage practices that minimize distractions during meetings.


There is an argument to be made; if all staff is salaried, then the examples discussed above bear no additional operational cost to the business. This, despite being simplistically true, is not entirely correct because of the Opportunity Cost of doing business. The opportunity cost of time spent unproductively or inefficiently is time spent productively executing revenue-generating activities for the business.

Leaders don’t have to be cruel slave drivers to run efficient organizations; efficiency doesn’t always have to cost extra in the form of a business process improvement project. There are cost-effective strategies a business can implement if it is aware of where inefficiencies lurk within the normal operating activities of the business.

Inaction & the Real Consequence.

As a Consultant, Project Manager and Growth & Transformation Specialist, I’ve seen how micro-inefficiencies accumulate over time, compounding and increasing the operating cost of the business. I’ve also seen how micro-inefficiencies can morph and spread within a business. How one small indiscretion encourages other minor indiscretions to develop, compounding over time into an ineffectively run organization with high operating cost, low profitability, building competitive disadvantage and a diluted brand. The long-term effects are even more detrimental to the business than anticipated.

We may assume that these problems only apply to medium to large organizations because they hire more expensive staff; and the average hourly cost to the business is material. Whereas in SMB, the average hourly cost to the business may not be significant enough for the president to invest the time necessary to correct small insignificant infractions.

The consequence of this ill-advised-thinking is that it prevents the SMBs from developing a growth environment.

All actions, regardless of how small have consequences. Sometimes the consequence in isolation is not material to the operating viability and profitability of the business. However, compounding over time can be the silent killer that may just cost you the business. 

Contact Us to find out more about other strategies tips and insights to help you transform your business for growth; or just to figure out those hidden challenges camouflaged within the normal operation of the business, eroding your profitability.


Be Strategic!

Written by Nallanie Manick!

“You know when a business isn’t performing as expected and the leadership team hasn’t quite figured out why, this is where we come in. We can help with affordable solutions even SMBs have the capabilities to execute.”

Boost Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution

What Causes Strategy Failure?

The data tells us that the majority of strategy projects failed. Either Failing outright or failing to deliver the desired results, the results management used to justify the investment in the first place. Why?  When executives step back and reflect, the root cause is because of one or more of the following:

  1. Strategic Misalignment
  2. Silo Trap
  3. Implementation Misalignment

Strategic Misalignment

Henrik Kniber Misalignment

What is Strategic Misalignment? 

Strategic Misalignment results from the compounded effect of decisions that are not aligned with the Business’s Corporate Strategy; each decision widens the gap between the business’s current state and its Strategic Path.

Practically, unless leaders intentionally and mindfully manage the business’s daily activities to ensure alignment with its Corporate Strategy, it is not easy to identify Strategic Misalignment until after the business performance is impacted. Evident when the actions to get the business to get back on track to achieve its goal is disruptive and expensive; and when the phrase “Course Correct” is used to describe the urgency of the situation.

What causes Strategic Misalignment? 

It would be cruel yet correct to say that the root cause of Strategic Misalignment is bad decisions – inferring that these decisions were uninformed or intentional. Though correct, this is an absolutely useless statement because it provides no context or information on how to get back on track. No solution. No guidance. It is more relevant and helpful to state that the Root Cause of Strategic Misalignment is the decision-making process and the quality of the information considered when deciding.

“The Root Cause of Strategic Misalignment is the Decision-Making process and the Quality of the Information used when making Decisions.”

One more note on a business becoming Strategic Misaligned. A business does not become Strategically Misaligned because of one or a few uninformed decisions but after a prolonged period and practice of making Strategically Incoherent Decisions.

Silo Trap

The Context of Think artwork interpreted for Silo Trap

What is Silo Trap?

Silo Trap or “Siloization” is a practice of making decisions in a Silo, meaning making decisions that are best for your function without consideration of the impact on other functions. Another phase you hear often is “working in a silo”.  Siloization does not necessarily mean that the Functional Leaders are vengeful or deliberate; it simply means that, for whatever reason, it appears as if no consideration was given to the possible effect of that decision on the other functions of the business.

Siloization is detrimental to an organization because everything in the business is interconnected. Every decision made will ultimately produce output that feeds as input/information into the task of another function, affecting the effectiveness with which the other function can complete its task. An easy yet relatable example is the decisions made in Sales to win the Sales without considering how it will impact operations. This leaves operations exposed to delivering lower-quality goods and services, affecting the Operations’ Performance metrics.

So how is Siloization different from Strategic Misalignment?

Both Siloization and Strategic Misalignment are rooted in the decision-making process and the information used in decision-making; the difference is; with Siloization decisions fail to consider the impact of those decisions on other Functions, while; with Strategic Misalignment, the decision fails to consider the impact of those decisions on the Business’s Corporate Strategy. Similar yet drastically different.

Signs of Siloization?

Siloization is Horizontal conflict within the organization, while Strategic Misalignment is Vertical conflict among all levels of the organization. Siloization creates somewhat toxic or dysfunctional behaviours, while Strategic Misalignment doesn’t necessarily mean the functions are not aligned. Two Signs of Siloization include:

  • An increasing number of disagreements between the functions of the organization. The reasons including:
    • different priorities,
    • different strategies,
    • different goals,
    • the different interpretations of what the goals or the strategy mean.
  • We often listen to CEOs reciting some version of “we are all cogs in the wheel”, or when we work together, we can achieve great things. The pep-talk used to pacify disagreements between the functions when the effects have cascaded down the organization affecting staff, operations and likely, customers.

When you step back, really step back and look at what happened when Siloization was allowed to continue, the result is often tragic – the compounded effect led to the decline of the business.

“The compounded effect of Siloization is the Slow Decline of the Business.”

Implementation Misalignment

Capterra – interpreted Project Failing

What is Implementation Misalignment? 

Implementation Misalignment occurs when the business undertakes special projects it is not equipped to or cannot successfully execute. More appropriately described as the misfit between the Project requirements and the business resourcefulness. Implementation Misalignment occurs when the business pursues projects that look good on paper without doing proper due diligence into its capabilities, resources, skillset, and limitation.  Ultimately, having to accept that the business cannot successfully deliver the project and deciding to either stop or accept compromised results.

Despite each project being unique and one of a kind, inherent with uncertainty, risk and challenges, there are signs of Implementation Misalignment requiring solutions that are outside of the control of the Project Management team.

4 Signs of Implementation Misalignment:

  1. Lack of Management Buy-in: Management buy-in is present when the collective leadership team agrees with and supports the project. Management buy-in becomes a problem when one or more of the leadership team members do not agree with the decision to pursue this project. Thus, likely that there are unresolved issues even after the decision was made, resulting in a project lacking the full management buy-in.
  2. Unexpected Challenges: During implementation, the project experiences an unnecessarily high number of challenges resulting in scope creep, delays, rising cost etc. Challenges that weren’t previously anticipated, or challenges or issues the sponsor during strategic planning assumed were not going to be an issue; or did not give any thought to because they did not anticipate that this would be a challenge for the business.
  3. Underwhelming Results: Upon completion, the Project result was under-whelming, or the business did not gain the benefits it anticipated from the project.
  4. Failure: Project failed, or the business was forced to terminate the project early.

Solution: NMCS Strategic Initiative Process

Boost Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution while Developing the Essential Details to Optimally Manage the Business

NMCS Strategic Initiative Process is a structured, organized, gated processes designed to help businesses Identify, Develop, Execute and Operationalize the right initiatives to Transform the business for Growth, while simultaneously further the achievement of the Business Corporate Strategy, its Vision, Mission or Purpose. This Strategic Initiative Process:

  1. Using NMCS Strategic Alignment Process, analyses the Business Corporate Strategy to:
    • Define Core Goals,
    • Define Core Goals Success Principles that reduce Interpretation Errors,
    • Priorities alignment with and define the business Strategic Path,
    • Define Corporate Goals.
  2. Define Strategic Initiative
    • Performs a Business State Corporate Goal Gap Assessment to identify Strategic Gaps,
    • Analyzes the business resources, risk, capabilities and risk appetite to define Business Limitations,
    • Performing our Business Limitation Analysis; weigh, rate and prioritize the impact of the business limitation on each Strategic Gap, to identify Potential Strategic Initiatives the business is Equipped and Able to Successfully Execute.
  3. Pursue Transformation Initiatives to Grow the Business or Transformation Initiatives to Stabilize the Business, that are specific and right for the business, right now. The Strategic Initiative Process provided an Executive Strategic Initiative Report Framework to facilitate the optimal review to decide on which Strategic Initiative to pursue.
  4. Throughout the Structured, Organized, Gated-Process, develop the Essential Information and Details to Optimize the Management and Operations of the Business.
    • Information used when making Strategic Decisions
    • Information used in onboarding new leaders
    • Information used when managing the operations of the business
    • Information used when resolving conflict
    • etc.

NMCS Strategic Initiative Process delivers on its promise by Logically, honing in on the key point of weakness of a Strategic Planning Process, and getting to the root cause of where Expensive Strategic Mistakes are made. Addressing:

  • The reasons wrong projects is selected,
  • The reasons why certain investment fails,
  • The reasons behind an organization being pulled into different, conflicting directions,
  • The reasons strategic gaps develop within an organization,
  • The reasons for misalignment between the Operations of the Business and its Corporate Strategy,
  • The reasons why a business loses its competitive edge, and customers leave.

NMCS Strategic Initiative Process addresses the root cause behind Expensive, Strategic Mistakes. The reasons that are only obvious after the fact, after the damage has been done.

This solution not only provides a Strategic Tool to Optimize Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution, but it does so in a subtle, elegant manner without any negative stigmas; correcting the ineffective management practices discussed above.

It provides the Framework, Insights, Strategies, Tips and Information to create the environment that stifles the Strategic Misalignment, Siloization and Implementation Misalignment. 

Strategic Initiative Miniseries Summary.

Over the period of January to June of 2022, NMCS published a 6-Part Strategic Initiative miniseries on our Blog Page and our NMCS YouTube channel, with over 2 hours of information packed content; discussed in much more detail than can be presented in one post or blog. After completing this complex 6-part miniseries, we had one more gift for our readers.  A summarized overview of the full ended to end process in one publication. Now you can get an appreciation for the full process, with some insights into each step in the process and the benefits of its design,

Part 1: What is Strategic Initiative?

A Strategic initiative is a Corporate Level Special Project, carefully planned and designed by leadership, to resolve a Strategic Gap, clearing a path forward for the business to now be able to achieve one or more of its Corporate Goals. A Strategic Initiative differs from other projects undertaken within the business because it effect a transformational change to the business; making a fundamental change to the business. See Types of Strategic Initiatives for more detail.

It is important to clarify that the completion of a Strategic Initiative Project by itself does not achieve any of the Business Corporate Goals, it simply removes an obstacle, in the business so the business can now begin the work on the activities necessary to achieve its Corporate Goal.

The different types of Strategic Initiatives discussed in this series are

  1. The Create Strategic Initiative
    • To create something that currently do not exist within the business
    • Something that is necessary to have, and operational, before the business can execute the activities to achieve one or more of its Corporate Goals
    • Example: a Vertical or Horizontal integration, or a Strategic Partnership, which is needed before the business is able to execute the activities necessary to grow the business.
  2. The Fix or Repair Strategic Initiative
    • To Fix or Repair something currently existing with the business
    • Something which in its current state is an obstacle, prevents the business from executing the activities necessary to achieve one or more of its Corporate Goals
    • Example: to Upgrade the Business Production Facility to increase capacity to the facility true potential. In its current state, the facility is no able to produce the quantity required to achieve it corporate goal.
  3. The Discontinue Strategic Initiative
    • To Discontinue some aspect of the business that is no longer aligned with the Business Corporate Strategy.
    • Something which is consuming resources while widening Strategic Gaps within the business, pulling the business further and further away from its Corporate Strategy.
    • Something currently blocking the business from executing the activities necessary to achieve one or more of its Corporate Goals.
    • Example: to Discontinue a non-strategic product line that monopolizes production time. Preventing the business from optimizing the production of its more profitable products. Something if not discontinued prevents the business from expanding its more productive product lines.

NMCS Strategic Initiative Process

NMCS Strategic Initiative Process is a 7-Step Process, starting with the analysis of the business Corporate Strategy to determine the strategic path forward, and ending the Operationalization of the output from the Strategic Initiative Project, so the business can move forward, executing the operations of the business to achieve its Corporate Goals.

The Seven Steps of the NMCS Strategic Initiative Process:

  1. Clarify Corporate Strategy
    • Corporate Strategy -> Corporate Goals
  2. Identify Strategic Gaps
    • Corporate Goals <-> Business State => Strategic Gaps
  3. Design Strategic Initiative
    • Strategic Gaps X Business Limitations X Business Capabilities => Possible Strategic Initiatives
  4. Evaluate and Select Strategic Initiative
    • Executive Strategic Initiative Report X Decision => Select Strategic Initiative
  5. Plan and Mobilize Strategic Initiative
    • Planning Detail for funding, resources
    • Secure Funding and Resources
  6. Execute Strategic Initiative
    • Insights to Mindfully manage Execution of the project with the Project manager
  7. Operationalize Strategic Initiative
    • Go Live, Open Flood Gates of the transition onto the business.

Part 1 Full Video Link: What is Strategic Initiative? 

Starting in Part 2 to Part 7, we discussed each Step of the NMCS Strategic Initiative Process in detail.

Part 2: Clarify Corporate Strategy and Identify Strategic Gaps

A Summary of the key take away from Part 2: Clarify Corporate Strategy and Identify Strategic Gaps includes:

  • An Acknowledgement of the fact that not all businesses have a well defined Corporate Strategy, so we discussed insights on how the business can make progress with what they have. After all, you have to start at some point and the right point is where you are currently.
  • Discussed NMCS strategic Alignment process in detail, unpacking the business Corporate Strategy through a succinct process to define corporate goals as well as all other information management depend on to effectively manage the business.

  • Discussed our 5-step process to analyse the business current state compared to the ideal state necessary to achieve its Corporate Goals, and to identify Strategic Gaps.

Part 2 Full Video Link: Clarify Corporate Strategy and Identify Strategic Gaps 

Part 3: Design, Evaluate and Select Strategic Initiative

A summary of the key takeaway from Part 3: Design, Evaluate and Select Strategic Initiative includes:

  1. Part 3 discussion started off by raising awareness to the fact that as we transition from the “dreamlike”, excitement of the earlier Strategic Planning steps in the process, it can be difficult for some leaders when they are forced to face the reality of the business weakness.
    • It’s like the cliche “looking in the mirror” at your weakness, limitation; Looking Objectively!
    • Analyzing the impact of the identified weakness and limitation on the business and having to decide what, if anything, to do about it.
    • Some Resistance Triggers leadership encounters at this juncture in the process include:
      • The Reality of the sheer effort required to execute a Strategic Initiative Project, and whether they are willing to undertake that stress.
      • The Cost – Transformation Projects are Expensive – leaders must decide whether the business can incur such a cost, and they can accept the impact on the business and their compensation.
      • Management Buy-In. At this step, leaders once excited about a prospect begin pulling back their support, Questioning whether it’s beneficial or not after consideration of the business limitation and constraints.
      • Investment funding, the business question whether they will be able to secure the funding given the ROI for the business and potential investors of each Strategic Gap.
      • Risk Severity and how well this is married with the Leaders’ Risk appetite
      • Culture. Transformation is complex, requiring teamwork, sacrifice and discipline; something the leaders must consider when making expensive decisions to pursue disruptive projects.
  2. Discussed our Design Strategic Initiative Process, designed to diligently evaluate all Option presented to select the most financially and strategically feasible Initiative for the business to pursue
    • Step 1: Understand the Business Limitations.
    • Step 2: Evaluate and Categorize Limitations.
    • Step 3: Perform Business Limitation Strategic Gap Rating.
      • Apply other Core Goals to rule out Strategic gaps conflicting with other Business Core Goals, extracted directly from the business Corporate Strategy.
    • Step 4: Prepare Executive Strategic Initiative Report
  3. Entered into a discussion on the decision-making process and supporting the Decision Makers as they decide on which Initiative to pursue.

Part 3 Full Video Link: Design, Evaluate and Select Strategic Initiative 

Part 4: Plan & Mobilize Strategic Initiative

Part 3 was somewhat of a rude awakening, transition from the excitement of planning the perfect future to an objective assessment of the business to determine; of which of the many strategic gaps identified, the business is equipped and able to execute with some level of competence. Part 4 took a step further, as we transitioned the conversation from a Strategic focus to the Tactical level of the organization.

The Purpose of Part 4: Plan & Mobilize Strategic Initiative was two folded; first to develops the critical & essential Specific Strategic Initiative Project, Project Management details required; before the business takes any action to secure funding and secure resources for the project. Then we utilized the Project Management Information to engage investors, suppliers and potential Human Resources needed throughout the life of the project and after the project goes live.

The Key Insights discussed includes:

  1. We started the conversation with a brief statement on Expensive Strategic Mistake and surveying the leadership for their true opinion.
  2. A discussion of Planning Funding Insights one must be mindful of before seeking funding for the project.
    • One: Understand the type of investment you’re seeking funding for, because not all investor fund all types of investment.
    • Two: Be very specific on the Strategic Initiative Project Return on Investment and how it will create value for the business and investor.
    • Three: Understand you Investment funding Cost ceiling, beyond which it becomes too expensive for the business
    • Four: Determine how you will repay the investment cost during the life of the project, it is an additional cash burden on the business; the business may or may not be able to cover.
    • Five: If the option is presented, are the shareholders willing to give up equity to fund the project?
    • Note: Not so Fine Print – we’re not financial experts; as such we highly recommend that you seek the consult of certified financial advisors, however, be prepared to discuss each point in applicable detail with potential investors.
  3. A Discussion of Planning Project Management detail the business must prepare before performing any action on the project. Information we recommend you develop with the Project Manager who will be responsible for the successful delivery of the project.
    • One: Project Detail Description, including Deliverables, Success Principles and Success Factors
    • Two: Project Constraints
    • Three: Project Risk and Deal Breakers
    • Four: Project Milestones
    • Five: Project Schedule and Timeline
    • Six: Project Resource Schedule
    • Seven: Project Finance and Cash Flow Schedule
    • Eight: Project Communication Plan
    • Nine: Project Deployment Plan
  4. Mobilize Funding Insights – a discussion of different types of assurances; different types of investors will be seeking during the negotiation process to decide on whether or not to fund your project.
  5. Mobilize Non-People Resources – A Discussion of insights to be considered when sourcing and securing equipment, material, third party resources, etc. so the Resources are accessible and available when needed throughout the life of the project.
  6. Mobilize People Resources – Finally we discussed HR Insights, having the right people with the right skills onboard at the right time to execute the activities of the projects as per the project schedule. Also, to secure any additional permanent resources needed after the project goes live.

Part 4 Full Video Link: Plan and Mobilize Strategic Initiative 

Part 5: Execute Strategic Initiative

We are mindful of the fact that we cannot execute any project, nonetheless a complex Strategic Initiative Project on a thirty minutes video. Also, the fact that the business would have hired a Professional Project Manger to deliver this high stake project. The Purpose of this episode was to home in on the the critical project management areas the sponsor must manage mindfully with the project team to reduce failure and overruns; increase visibility, provide support on a timely manner, and to be able to advise along the way as challenges arises; and believe me, you will need to support the project team on a timely manner because challenges will arise, to increase the chances of success.

Based on experience, it is strongly recommended to:

  1. Get Commitment from the Project Execution Team on the Project Description detail prepared in Part 4 before execution starts. Simply because commitment creates accountability, accountability improves execution and improved execution improves the chances of success.
  2. Get Clarity on Project Deliverables because assumptions, because assumption made during execution introduces interpretation errors, and a lack of clarity is one of the sources that causes project breakdown.
  3. Manage Risk & Deal Breakers. This goes without saying, there are different levels and severity of risk plaguing the project; with deal breakers being the most critical; requiring intentional and purposeful management. After all the last thing any sponsor wants is to terminate a project early, writing off a material investment cost to the business. 
  4. Manage Project Cash Flow. Project Cash flow is an underrated monster which if not contained and managed, can easily bleed cash, affecting the business. After all Profit (a net of cost and expenditure) don’t pay the bill, cash (the available money in the bank) does.
  5. Manage Progress. You may be thinking Progress is all the Project Manager team does. Yes, but! There are different levels of progress and different criticality of progress. Here the purpose is to encourage the sponsor to mindfully manage the critical path and critical path adjacent activities, as well as to encourage the project manager to proactively manage all other Project activities. After all it’s wise to not assume that progress is made just because it’s on the project plan.
  6. Manage Communication; Communication Channels are Open & functional. Part 5 emphasize that communication channels are open and functional when things are going as planned, however, communication clogs begin forming when failure or blame or accountability enters the equation. We shared insights on how to encourage open communication channels in all circumstances within a project.  

Part 5 Full Video Link: Execute Strategic Initiative 

Part 6: Operationalize Strategic Initiative

Operationalization Strategic Initiative is the process, where the products created with the Strategic Initiative Projects are handed over or transitioned from the Project Management team to the Operations of the Business.

We emphasized that how the business transition of the products created from a Strategic Initiative project to the Operations of the business, is critical because:

  • Go Live is a critical point of weakness in the Project, especially a Strategic Initiative because it effect a fundamental change to the business. A change that affects the way the business operates, the way staff do their jobs, the way customer responds to the change etc.
  • If done properly there is a higher adoption rate and an eagerness to utilize the products created to achieve the business goals.
  • If not done properly, the business is plagued with frustration and challenges. Depending on how badly the transition was, it can result in key staff members leaving the organization, an increase in customers attrition and worst a decline in the business as opposed to the growth you expected.

To help counteract the negatives of a poorly executed transition, we provided Transition Insights for the three types of Strategic Initiative discussed above (Create, Fix or Repair & Discontinue). Because each type of Strategic Initiative affect the business differently. In some transition insight the transition category would be the same, however the transition detail differs significantly and materially. For example with a Create Strategic Initiative, the Operating Model is an expansive change, requiring new resources, consolidation, in some functions a splitting of duties etc. While a Discontinue Strategic Initiative effective a contractive change to the business, shrinking workforce, remaining workforce performing double duties, taking on the responsibilities of their once terminated peer, etc.

It is important to note that the Operationalization of a Strategic Initiative’s impact on the business is often underrated, leaving room for Preventable Errors. Here we discussed what it truly means when a project goes live – the flood gates are opened and everyone and everything affected – Operating Procedure, How People do their Jobs, People’s Jobs, Customers, Suppliers, Business Partners, everyone and everything – hence the reason for the meticulous execution of the Operationalization of the Strategic Initiative.

Part 6 Full Video Link: Operationalize Strategic Initiative 

Notes: Execution of Strategic Initiative Process

Now before we end, some final thoughts on this Strategic Initiative Process, which is also discussed in the Part 6 video.

This miniseries was intended to provide insights, and is not intended for training. It is too summarized, even the individual videos, are too summarized to be considered as training material. The intention was for this series to help you highlight gaps in your process, understand why it is important to fill that gap, then to provide insights on how you can fill that gap with your knowledge and experience. It’s a management guide only.

Also, it is worth re-emphasizing that this series because of the way it was designed, not only provides a Strategic Tool to boost your Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution but also through the process eradicate personal biases while developing in a collaborative manner the information and details relied upon when managing the business, promoting strategically alignment in all actions.

Assumption made in the development of this Strategic Initiative series

  • The businesses are interested in growth and transformation.
  • The businesses are interested in Strategic Planning and effective Strategy Execution, and is willing to do the work.
  • The businesses interested are organizations with a hierarchy of resources, resources to undertake a Strategic Caliber Project.
  • The businesses interested was or is Operationally profitable for several years, meaning a well established business.
  • The businesses interested have a version of Corporate Strategy that they can use as a starting point for Strategic Planning.
  • The businesses interested are not experiencing industry disruption, as we did not cater for market disruption in this series. Simply because Market disruption required a complete rethink of the business existence, and if it continues, a refresh of the business Corporate Strategy. A refresh of the business Corporate Strategy is a completely different task.
  • Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution is the next natural step for the business. Whether that’s founded in transformation for growth or transformation to get back on track.

Assumption we assumed businesses interested in this series would make

  • The business is in growth and or improvement mode.
  • The business has the potential to get the investment funding required to fund selected Strategic Initiative Projects.
  • The business has the executive support to see a project through, work through obstacles collaboratively and do everything in their power to succeed.
  • The business has the resources and potential to acquire skills needed to undertake a Strategic Initiative project.
  • The business is clear about its Corporate Strategy and has executive buy-in on the business Strategic Path 

10 Benefit of the Strategic Initiative Process 

This series was a well thought-out series, with consideration for where the business struggles, the root cause and to value the business most valuable resources – it people. Designing Processes & Strategies while sharing our Insights to add context and Tips so you can gain the most from this series; with intentional effort to respect your business, its staff and your passion to make real change, correcting the right problem; preparing the business for sustainable growth. We made lots of understood assumptions throughout this series, simply because we attempt to provide insights without inflating an already complex and lengthy topic. This is just one of the consequences of creating compact video content; fit for today’s audiance.

10 benefit of executing this Strategic Initiative Process as intended are:

  1. Clarify the Business Corporate Strategy, bring everyone onboard with not just your business Vision, Mission or Purpose Statements, but your interpretation and expectation of what you are working toward and how. 
  2. The process was designed to develop the details and information required to eradicate Communication & Interpretation Errors, errors resulting from assuming that everyone else is thinking like you are, using the same rationale.
  3. It develops the details required to improve decisions alignment with the business Corporate Strategy, reducing confusion and obscurity.
  4. It develops a Strategy Map with consensus, clearly laying out the path forward for the business in the short and medium terms at minimum.
  5. It improves and / or formalizes the Project Management function within the business.
  6. It unveils limitation and constraints within the business the business may not have been aware of, with consensus on what the business is willing and able to address.
  7. It improves communication within the business, facilitating appropriate transparency and feedback.
  8. It develops the information, and discipline to better equips the business to collaboratively tackle challenges.
  9. It improves culture and teamwork.
  10. It provides the insights to execute changes more effectively within the business while promoting the Proactive and Collaborative Management of the Business, the activities to achieve the business goals.
2 Final notes from me to you:
  1. “Knowledge is power” is the old say. The assumption was that we use the knowledge we acquired consistently to improve our lives and businesses. I cannot tell you how many businesses I have worked in, in which the leaders knew exactly what they were supposed to do and why, yet for whatever reason struggled to apply it to the business. The strategy to break this cycle was as simple as transforming that knowledge into executable actions, small manageable actions they can execute within their busy schedule.  
  2. Assuming we know exactly what the other person meant, or is intended to do. There are numerous text, articles and seminars on open-mindedness. Yet I have experienced in too numerous to count, instances in businesses; in which people listen only to respond, listen for an opportunity to talk, tell others what to do without listening or seeking others input, disregard other people ideas, etc.; the list goes on. A strategy to interrupt this practice eventually is the Strategic Alignment Process discussed above. One example of how this process opens the floor for input is in the step to define Success Principles. This steps only works well when you welcome different interpretation from different thinking process, meaning different members of the team. It stifles ego and improves respect; fostering collaboration and teamwork, if executed as intended.

Use the tool as intended and without a doubt, you will see improvement in the business.

Be Strategic!


Strategic Initiative Part 6: Operationalize Strategic Initiatives

Finally, the final instalment in this 6-Parts Strategic Initiative mini-series, with over 2 hours of information-packed content, including strategies, tips and valuable insights to help businesses Identify, Develop, Execute and Operationalize the correct Initiative for their business. Strategic Project aligned with the business Corporate Strategy –  its Vision, Mission, and Values.

Operationalize Strategic Initiatives

Operationalization of a Strategic Initiative is transitioning the output produced by the Strategic Initiative Project from the Project team to the Operations of the Business. In the Process to Operationalize a Strategic Initiative, we consider not just the product itself but the transfer of:

  • Ownership – While the Product is being developed in the SI Project, the ownership resides with the project team; not just the SI Product but the accountability for its proper functioning, its maintenance, pilot operations, the ownership for operational use and training, and the ownership of the output generated. All of these must be transferred from the project team to the operations of the business during the Operationalization step of the SI process.
  • Accountability – The person Accountable is the single person who oversees the entirety of the product created by the SI Project; including its functional and cross-functional applications, to deliver on its Purpose, as well as to ensure that it continues to deliver on its Purpose throughout the life of the product.
  • Work Instruction – Initial Used-Case, Scenario, Application, and Standard Operating Procedure developed by the project team is handed over to the Operations of the business, who then assumes ownership and accountability for its maintenance to ensure that it correctly guides the product’s users.

The Transition Insights were discussed individually for each type of Strategic Initiative introduced in Part 1 of this series – The Create Strategic Initiative, The Fix or Repair Strategic Initiative and the Discontinue Strategic Initiative – This was intentional because even though the overarching themes are similar, because the devil is in the details, the actual Transition Insights differs according to the type of Strategic Initiative.

Execute Strategic Initiative Process

There is a stark difference between executing a Project, a Strategic Project, and the Process to Identify, Develop, Execute and Operationalize the right Projects to bridge Strategic Gaps. Projects are already perfectly defined with details on what to accomplish, instructions on how to measure success, a budget and a timeline. Despite Strategic Projects being difficult, risky, expensive undertakings with an inherent amount of unknowns, they are founded in the known. Whereas the Strategic Initiative Process starts with a statement or two, logical yet vague statement(s), and you have to develop the rest. Strategic Initiative Process is founded in the unknown with the opportunity, flexibility and responsibility to determine the future direction of the business, based on the guidelines provided in the business Corporate Strategy Statement(s). The leadership team is tasked with determining from the Corporate Strategy Statement(s) what to accomplish, what success is, what the challenges or obstacles are and what to do about it based on the current state of its micro and macro environments. This is either a privilege or a burden. It all depends on how comfortable you are with this responsibility and the Strategic Planning Process. This series was carefully crafted to transform this chaotic process into a logical, organized one you and the future team can follow confidently.

In this the final episode in this series, we discussed two groups of assumptions made as well as shared our insights on what you must consider when executing a Strategic Initiative Process; ending the series with 10 benefits of the Strategic Initiative Process, the benefits gained by the business when they apply NMCS Strategic Initiative Process.

Full details here:


Reference and Links

Check out our NMCS YouTube channel, for all videos published by us, including the Strategic Initiative Playlist for all 6 Strategic Initiative episodes.

Links to the rest of this series:

We hope this Special Strategic Initiative mini-series help you to help grow the business.


Be Strategic!



Strategic Initiative Part 5: Execute Strategic Initiative

Execute Strategic Initiative is Part 5 of a 6-part miniseries, discussing a step-by-step process to Identify, Develop, Execute and Operationalize Growth & Transformation Initiatives that further the Achievement of the business Corporate Strategy.

A step-by-step process to Identify, Develop, Execute and Operationalize Growth & Transformation Initiative that Furthers the Achievement of the business Corporate Strategy.

Previous Post Recap

I have to admit this has been quite an exciting journey thus far, especially if you’re a strategy nerd like myself. If you like Strategy,  Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution. In Parts 1 to 3,  we:

  • Unpacking the business Corporate Strategy to extract Core Goals
  • Interpreted the Core Goals to define Success Principles, which are word descriptions of what success is.
  • Then, use these Success Principles to develop a Strategic Path forward and specific Corporate Goals for the business.

After, we proceeded to become highly uncomfortable in two ways:

  • First, analyze the business’s current state to define Strategic gaps, and
  • Secondly, we analyzed the business Limitations to define possible Strategic Initiatives, which are the Strategic Gaps the business is willing and able to execute

Part 4 shifted the focus from Strategic Initiative Planning to Project Management Planning. Check out this episode to find out what and why we recommended developing specific project management details before the business takes any action to find investors; and before the business takes any action to secure resources for the Project.

Execute Strategic Initiative Key Insights

We understand we cannot Project Manage a project on a post or video. Given our Strategic Initiative commitment is to provide insights to help businesses with their most dire problems. So instead of Project managing an S.I. Project on Video, we will highlight 6 key Project Execution insights leaders must be mindful of, the insights they must manage diligently with their project manager. 

Insights that that can make a significant difference between a Smoothly Run, Professionally Managed, Well-Controlled Project; and that of a Disorganized Project littered with Avoidable unwelcome Surprises.

These 6-Key Execute Strategic Initiative Insights are: 

  1. 1: Get Commitment from the Project Execution Team
  2. 2: Get Clarity on Project Deliverables
  3. 3: Manage Risk & Deal Breakers
  4. 4: Manage Project Cash Flow
  5. 5: Manage Progress
  6. 6: Manage Communication; Communication Channels are Open & functional 

For more detail on each Execute Strategic Initiative Insights:

Previous Episodes in this Miniseries:

If you missed Parts 1 -4 of this miniseries, the links are included below.


In conclusion

In conclusion, “Half of the problem is Not Knowing, Only Half! The other half is Execution”. I’m not sure what the original quote is. However, I love this version because it is relevant to Strategic Initiative Execution.

“Half of the problem is Not Knowing, only half! The other half is Execution.”

When issues occur, often the root cause is either “Not Knowing”- a lack of knowledge, lack of motivation to research, lack of curiosity to find out more – or “Execution”. In projects, the execution problem isn’t because of not acting but because of the lack of diligence in acting.

The video above discusses each of the 6 insights in detail, describing the insight, discussing why the insight is necessary and providing an action you can take to improve the diligence in the execution of your S.I. Project.

Be Strategic



Strategic Initiative Part 4: To Plan and Mobilize Strategic Initiatives.

The Strategic Initiative miniseries reached another pivotal point, the point in which the focus is now redirected from the Business Strategic Planning Team to the operators who will be responsible for the execution of any Strategic Initiative Project the business decides to pursue. 

We now shift the focus from the Corporate Strategy Team to the Operators of the business. The people responsible for the execution of the Business Strategic, Transformation projects.

Part 1 to Part 3 of this series dives into the activities necessary to develop the business Corporate Strategy Roadmap, plus the supporting details required to effectively execute the activities necessary to achieve the business Corporate Strategy.

Corporate Strategy Roadmap & Supporting information is relevant as long as the Corporate Strategy is unchanged. 

The S.I. Series Part 1 to Part 3 Saves Money and Time annually. The time saving spent on off-site workshops to unpack the business corporate strategy to re-envision the future of the business. We’re not saying that annual strategic planning isn’t important; it is. We’re saying that it is shortened due to having done the work properly, and comprehensively initially. Complete so it is reliable as long as the Corporate Strategy remains unchanged.

Part 4, this episode, To Plan and Mobilize Strategic Initiative, develop Strategic Initiative Project Management details required to:

  1. Seek and Secure Investment funding that is right for your business, and
  2. Source and Secure the Resources needed, as and when needed, to execute the S.I. project.

In this video, we discussed Strategic Initiatives and Project Management details that must be developed before seeking funding, and the details that must be prepared before attempting to secure the resources necessary to execute the S.I. Project. The Project Management details discussed, strictly from an S.I. perspective, are:

  1. Project Description
  2. Project Constraints
  3. Project Risk & Deal Breakers
  4. Project Milestones
  5. Project Schedule & Timeline
  6. Project Resource Schedule
  7. Project Finance & Cash Flow
  8. Project Communication Plan
  9. Project Deployment Plan

While cautioning against making Expensive Mistakes, Strategic Mistakes, the mistake all organizations want to avoid, must avoid, as well as discussing 5 data points businesses seeking funding must develop before reaching out to investors. 

See the video for complete details.


Previous Episodes in this Miniseries:

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of this miniseries, the links are included below.

Insights Corner- Strategic Initiative miniseries roadmap.

In this series, we end every episode with “Be Strategic!” – a reminder of our commitment to ensure that all our work promotes the achievement of your business Corporate Strategy.