The Power of Strategic Commitment

Achieving Extraordinary Results Through Total Alignment and Engagement

The Power of Strategic Commitment

Authors: Josh Leibner, Gershon Mader, Alan Weiss, Ph.D.
Pub Date: May 2009
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814434406
Page Count: 288
Format: Paper or Softback

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Let’s be honest. Most initiatives to improve organizational performance do not deliver. Whether the aim is to become leaner, more productive, customer-intimate, or growth-oriented, the majority of organizational programs fail to accomplish their goals. Most of these efforts don’t cut costs, improve productivity, boost customer satisfaction, or raise revenue to the levels that the organization’s leaders expected or promised to the board and Wall Street. Some initiatives, in fact, fail outright because of lack of ownership and follow-through. All in all, the track record of corporate initiatives is a sorry one—one that only Dilbert creator Scott Adams could take joy in.

Most senior managers understand that no matter how clear and valid their strategy and objectives are, if people are not genuinely on the same page working with each other, rather than against or independent of each other, they will not achieve the success they want. But these same managers don’t know how to generate real commitment and alignment to their strategies. One clear indication is the lack of enthusiasm that most senior managers exhibit for the strategic planning process. As one executive put it, “Strategic planning—that’s when you go offsite as a team, agree on a bunch of priorities for the year, then go back to work and do what you were going to do anyway.”

From our combined consulting experience spanning eighty-plus years, 500 clients, and sixty countries, working with companies of all types and at all levels, we have found that the root cause for most failed or unfulfilled strategies is not any actual shortcomings in the strategies themselves. In fact, we have seen brilliant strategies fail in the worst way—despite being exactly what the company needed at the time, well researched and analyzed, and presented compellingly at all levels.

The Power of Strategic Commitment teaches how true ownership and commitment, and not merely compliance, is achieved throughout an organization, even when the environment is filled with the typical toxic organizational issues of distrust, politics, turfism, butt-covering, blame, and timidity. The book addresses the role, for example, of a “chief commitment officer,” ways to build commitment that cost nothing, and the fallacy of money as a motivator for behavior change. Strategic commitment issues in nonprofits, education, and government, as well as traditional for-profits, are all covered.

Using this book, you’ll be able to identify apathy, resignation, and cynicism, and then transform them into an environment of total alignment and commitment within your organization. The process starts by sharpening your antennae to spot compliance masquerading as commitment, and understanding the six key drivers that ensure organizational commitment, even under the most dire of circumstances. Numerous real-life examples are given from Global 1000 executives who have succeeded using these tools. All of the quotes used in the book come from direct interviews or interactions with clients, or recollections from the individuals cited. Actual names were used when possible, with fictionalized names used in some cases.

This book is a modest insurance policy to guarantee that the $400,000 spent on strategic planning is, indeed, well spent.

Please note: Beginning with In Search of Excellence almost 30 years ago (1982, HarperCollins), people have carped that companies used as examples have often fallen out of favor. That’s because Peters and Waterman at the time, just as we are today, were using contemporary examples of sound processes. But variables often interfere: changed leadership, mergers, poor decisions, poor discipline, etc. We can’t ensure that our examples will stay true to strategic commitment, but we can laud those that were doing so when we wrote this.

—Josh Leibner

Bridgewater, New Jersey

—Gershon Mader

Toronto, Ontario

—Alan Weiss

East Greenwich, Rhode Island

December 2008

Excerpted from THE POWER OF STRATEGIC COMMITMENT. Copyright © 2009 by Josh Leibner and Gershon Mader. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.

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