Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Start-ups, Turnarounds, Realignments and Sustaining-Success

In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about the four STARS (start-ups, turnarounds, ralignment, and sustaining-success) situations, challenges, and opportunities.

The Four STARS Situations
Watkins writes about the four STARS situations:

  • Start-up. You are charged with assembling the capabilities (people, funding and technology) to get a new business, product or project off the ground.
  • Turnaround. You take on a unit or group that is recognized to be in trouble and work to get it back on track.
  • Realignment. Your challenge is to revitalize a unit, product, process or project that is drifting into trouble.
  • Sustaining-success. You are shouldering responsibility for preserving the vitality of a successful organization and taking it to the next level.

Watkins rights about the challenges and opportunities of the Start-up situation.

Key Challenges:

  • Building Structures and systems from scratch without a clear framework or boundaries.
  • Welding together a cohesive high-performing team.
  • Making do with limited resources.

Key Opportunities:

  • You can do things right from the beginning.
  • People are energized by the possibilities.
  • There is no preexisting rigidity in people’s thinking.

Watkins rights about the challenges and opportunities of the Turnaround situation.

Key Challenges:

  • Reenergizing demoralized employees and other stakeholders.
  • Handling time pressure and having a quick and decisive impact.
  • Going deep enough with painful cuts and difficult personnel choices.

Key Opportunities

  • Everyone recognizes that change is necessary.
  • Affected constituencies (such as suppliers who want the company to stay in business) may offer significant external support.
  • A little success goes a long way.

Watkins rights about the challenges and opportunities of the Turnaround situation.

Key Challenges:

  • Dealing with deeply ingrained cultural norms that no longer contribute to high performance.
  • Convincing employees that change is necessary.
  • Restructuring the top team and refocusing the organization.

Key Opportunities

  • The organization has significant pockets of strength.
  • People want to continue to see themselves as successful.

Sustaining Success
Key Challenges:

  • Playing good defense by avoiding decisions that cause problems.
  • Living in the shadow of a revered leader and dealing with the team they created.
  • Finding ways to take the business to the next level.

Key Opportunities

  • A strong team may already be in place.
  • People are motivated to succeed.
  • Foundations for continued success (such as the product pipeline) may be in place.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Identifying which situation you’re in helps you anticipate what to expect.
  • Different situations call for different actions.
  • Having a shared vocabulary for the situations, helps get the team on the same page.

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