Use Your LMS To Apply 3 Essential Basics
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3 Essential Basics For Challenging Times

Whilst not a case study, this approach has been tried and tested in an organization that went through potentially devastating circumstances. The principles and approach work.

Sound strategy is the outcome of sound thinking, which is guided by a Clarity of organizational Purpose. To successfully operationalize strategy requires the systematic cascading of "what needs to be done" throughout the organization, following lag-lead principles. Finally, the realization of the operational plan depends on everyone working SMARTly and being accountable for their own contribution, in the full knowledge that they play a vital lead role in achieving overall organizational objectives.

Let's take a deeper look at 3 essential basics that all organizations should follow and how your LMS can help you do this. It is important to note that organizations will implement the Calls To Action differently. Some will use an organization-wide approach, whilst others may do it by workgroup or task group. However, the principles remain the same.

1. Clarity Of Purpose

In times of disruption, and the turmoil that often goes with it, organizational Clarity of Purpose is paramount. Importantly, it must include clarity of who the beneficiaries of this purpose are as well as clarity around what organizational skills and behavior sets will deliver the organizational purpose to satisfy defined beneficiary needs and wants.

Organizational purpose is an organization's true north and, as such, it is fundamental to all decision-making. To change organizational purpose or to ignore it fundamentally changes the nature of the organization. If your organizational purpose has been well thought out and is clear, let it guide your decision-making in tough times. Simon Sinek and Patrick Lencioni are thought leaders in this arena. View the following two short video clips to refresh the importance of Clarity of Purpose:

 

 

COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for most organizations. Much of the "chatter" that we hear coming from companies seems to be around how they might mitigate potential damage or even "opportunitize" on what is happening. This is just speculation and does not serve as any kind of reassurance to customers, employees, investors, and other stakeholders unless it is given context. Clarity of organizational purpose provides this.

Customers will still have the same or similar needs and wants. However, it may be that they have different expectations of how these will be delivered, or indeed, the organization may need to change how it packages and delivers its offering. This, in turn, will require different ways of working and new knowledge and skills that will enable the behavior sets required to deliver such.

Call To Action: Re-communicate your purpose to your staff via your LMS. Employees need a constant in times of change. Messages from your CEO in this regard, in whatever format, will be invaluable. Get key executives to start sharing ideas of how they believe they may need to work differently to deliver this purpose and ask for feedback and questions from staff. If new knowledge and skills are required, start delivering this via your LMS. However modestly you start, it will be seen positively. Communicate what you are doing and why to your stakeholders.

Finally, your executives can use the following additional essential basics to guide their thinking and communicate their action plans.

2. STEPS

STEPS (an acronym for Systems, Techniques, Etiquette, Process, and Style) is a reminder to robustly document organizational ways of working. Clear documentation not only enables others to benefit from following tried-and-tested processes/solutions but also enables them to apply their own thinking and insights as part of the continuous improvement challenge. Systems and techniques are tools to assist in the application of knowledge to do a specific task competently. Etiquette is about being clear on ways of working/rules of engagement and informs observable processes, which become a distinct style of doing business. How things are done is as important as what is done in terms of determining success. Etiquette is also about having a universally acceptable way of interacting/doing things that are agreeable and works for all staff, regardless of sex, culture, race, creed, values, and beliefs.

It stands to reason that, with more people working remotely and with people needing to work differently, your organizational STEPS will change.

Call To Action: Review the STEPS that your organization has in place and systematically work through how these may need to change as a result of COVID-19. Use your LMS to take this discussion to your employees and ask for their feedback and input. This level of involvement will help to prepare employees for the changes to come and, if they feel part of the debate, to help them buy into the changes. This will smooth the required transition.

Balanced Scorecard

In times of threat or disruption, organizations tend to focus on their financials, specifically how they can defend their "bottom line" and protect their balance sheet. This is important, but it will not lead to future sustainable performance and health. The balanced scorecard approach provides the discipline and the process required to deliver a balanced operational plan.

A balanced scorecard requires a "balance" of measures across organizational disciplines. Typically, the scorecard requires a balance of interventions and objectives across the four dimensions that impact sustainable organization performance. These are often given slightly different labels but essentially amount to balancing overall organizational objectives in a similar way. A common framework is financial, customer, internal processes and learning and innovation. The link will refresh you on the concept.

Call To Action: Categorizing the actions that you will take according to a balanced scorecard approach lends context to what various objectives will achieve and the role that they will play in the future success of the organization. It also gives a sense of a thorough approach, which stimulates confidence. Use your LMS to communicate this to your staff and prepare them for the specific roles that they will play in what needs to be done to ensure success.

Lag-Lead Principles

Lag-lead is a powerful concept that helps us understand that desired results are an outcome of very specific inputs that everyone needs to understand and have a lead input into.

In most modern businesses, there are a plethora of measures easily available, often at the press of a button. Astute business leaders understand the importance of lag versus lead indicators/objectives. Further, they understand that future success is the outcome of focusing each and every employees’ attention on the actions required in the short term to achieve desired longer-term outcomes or results. They understand that by the time these results are measurable, what caused them is history and cannot be influenced to change the outcome experienced. Results/Outcomes are therefore called lag objectives because they are contingent on the successful achievement of certain lead actions as measured by lead indicators or objectives.

The classic lag objective for many adults is to lose an amount of weight by a certain date. It is just a lag objective which you will not be able to ascertain success or failure of until the target date. Lead objectives are those that will be predictive of success and they are immediately measurable. If you are serious, you will set daily and weekly lead objectives to ensure success and monitor your progress, adjusting your lead objectives as required. In this instance, you may choose two lead objectives, one being to take more exercise to burn up more energy and the other being to control the calories that you eat.

Call To Action: Use your LMS to refresh your employees on the concept of lag-lead. Involve them in setting lead objectives for themselves that have a direct link to your overall organizational lag objectives for the next period of time. This enables everyone to play a lead role in terms of the direct impact they can have on the overall organizational goals. This is motivational and promotes the understanding of why their progress needs to be measured. 

3. SMART Objectives

The concept of SMART objectives has been around for a long time. However, it is often not consistently applied or well contextualized. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. All employees should understand and apply this to give credence to their efforts. Ed Muzio explains the concept well in the following YouTube clip:

 

Call To Action: Use your LMS to refresh SMART objectives and get employees to use this approach to set their lead objectives. This way everybody is playing a role in taking action that they can be held accountable for.

Conclusion

The 3 essential basics discussed in this article are known to most of us. However, they are often not applied consistently and simultaneously. If your organization is struggling to come to grips with COVID-19, try this approach. It works!

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