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What Problem Are We Solving?

If MWBs are the solution, what's the problem? Why do senior managers embark on MWB journeys? Although every manager we have worked with had his or her own reasons for the journey, what they had in common was a frustration with the current performance of their business and an impatience for improvement. They did not feel that incremental nudging or fine-tuning would bring about the necessary performance improvement. So they wanted to do something outside the norm to bring focus and energy to their teams, as their comments here indicate:

  • We had so-called priorities such as "innovate more," which meant almost nothing. It was more a slogan than anything else. We needed to create real ownership of a few key priorities, that would bring us the passion, focus, risk taking, and entrepreneurship that we needed. Business as usual would not get us there.
  • We were too academic; we tried to make things perfect instead of making decisions. We were great at debates. Analysis drove out action.
  • We were a group of individuals in silos, not a team. There was no openness and even less trust. I had to break the prevailing mind set.
  • We were too internally focused, always talking about what we could and could not do. We need to concentrate on what we need to do to win in our markets and get on with it.
  • We were a group of talented people, producing mediocre results. The potential to do much, much better was there.

A careful reading of these quotes suggests that these managers actually faced two problems, in addition to the fundamental fact that their businesses were not performing well. One was that their organizations were not clear on where they were going because of too many initiatives or conflicting priorities, and the other was that their management "teams" were far from being teams. So one problem was a lack of shared strategic priorities, and the other had to do with the attitudes and behavior of the members of the management team. If this is the situation you face, your MWB journey needs to deal with both of these issues—it is no use focusing on one and ignoring the other.

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