Let's examine two scenarios for improving leader effectiveness during a significant organisation-wide improvement initiative—a traditional what approach and our whywho–how approach.

comparing two scenarios

What do you believe each project will be most focused on?

When do you believe each project will be considered finished?

Which approach do you believe will create the most long-term value?

scenario 1

Your executive team has asked you to develop and roll out a leadership development program to support a new organisation-wide improvement initiative. You need to quickly prepare a high-level project plan for management approval.

scenario 2

Based on external benchmarks, your organisation must significantly improve performance. Without leaders performing effectively, senior management believes improvement efforts will fail. You need to decide the best way to move forward using our 4 big questions.

activity and inputs

commitment and results

scenario 1

typical tasks

  1. research available programs
  2. get a list of managers from HR
  3. send RFP to the best vendors
  4. review RFPs and select vendor(s)
  5. decide external or internal delivery
  6. develop and validate curriculum
  7. get sponsor sign-off
  8. coordinate with training department
  9. develop registration process
  10. get the budget approved
  11. send program announcement
  12. determine classroom requirements
  13. develop a schedule
  14. send registration letters
  15. print course materials
  16. confirm qualified trainers
  17. develop competency tests
  18. produce feedback surveys
  19. develop reporting system
  20. deliver the training... done!

when preparing a draft project plan, teams quickly identify up to 20 tasks before proudly declaring, We are finished!

scenario 2

typical tasks

  1. identify our most effective leaders today and understand what they do differently and why
  2. based on internal and external research, develop a prototype list of leader behaviours that should deliver the desired results
  3. hold manager focus groups to understand what support they need to deliver the desired results
  4. ask focus group managers how the prototype list of behaviours might improve results
  5. ask focus group managers what it would take for them to adopt the prototype list of behaviours
  6. hold employee focus groups to understand what support they need to deliver the desired results
  7. hold joint manager and employee sessions to compare ideas, and develop a path forward
  8. invite volunteers to prototype the support people say they need to improve performance

when using our 4 big questions, teams get about this far before declaring, We need to talk with people to go further.