Is This the Right Approach for You?
As you move forward through the book, you may wonder about whether the MWB approach is right for your company—and for yourself as a leader. The questions below are, hopefully, useful prompts for your deliberations.
Is an MWB journey what our business needs?
Assess the health of your business, senior management team, and organization. If performance is good, the top team is functioning well, your strategic priorities are appropriate, and the organization is working effectively, you probably do not need an MWB journey. If this is not the case, you should consider the ideas and examples in the book and decide if the journey would make sense for you.
Could we move forward on simultaneous intellectual and emotional journeys?
The power of the must-win battle approach is in building commitment to action at the same time as defining strategic priorities. If you are comfortable with this idea, and your business needs to improve on both dimensions, then keep reading. If, on the other hand, you feel that separating strategic planning and team-building is the best way forward, then must-win battles are not the right solution for you.
Are most senior managers capable of handling such a major change?
Most top teams need to change their behavior and mindset in order to lead a successful MWB journey. This change process can be particularly difficult if your organization is made up of independent fiefdoms led by strong-willed senior managers. Building these executives into a team will require a lot of debate and conflict, and as the leader you will need to manage the process. And in spite of the fact that some managers will see themselves as losers in these debates, you need to keep them on board, because you need everyone participating in your team.
If we get started, will we be able to sustain the momentum?
After the kick-off event, you will need to build a broad coalition of managers from all levels who will drive the MWB initiatives deep into the organization. How difficult will this be? How willingly will the organization at large embrace the idea of must-win battles? You will have to monitor progress carefully and find ways to re-energize the MWBs as you go.
Given the challenges, are you ready to lead the journey?
Do you have the skills and deep desire to lead such a journey? You will have to demonstrate a lot of flexibility and be willing to enter debates with an open mind, not always insisting on getting your way. And this will be an ongoing journey. Do you have the stamina? Stopping part way through is worse than not starting.
If your answer is yes to most of these questions, you should give serious thought to undertaking an MWB journey. If not, we nonetheless hope that you will find food for thought in these pages, and recognize the power of combining clarity of strategic focus with emotional commitment, however you achieve it.
Now, meet John Ryan. He's a fictional character, but knows many of the senior managers we have worked with intimately because each of them is part of him.