What is your role in the organization as a steering committee? What is your vision? Have you taken the time to think about it? During my experiences as a coach, I realized that executive committees are often either very strategic or very operational, depending on their context. Which side are you on? Do you think you work at the right level to achieve your vision and strategic objectives? To answer these questions, it is necessary to think about the impact you want to have in the organization. What do you want your executive committee to be recognized for? All these questions will lead you to define what is your executive committee’s USC.
The concept of Unique Strategic Contribution (USC) helps to identify where you should “play”, by first determining what is the one thing that only you, as a steering committee, should be doing in your organization. This concept can also be used to determine the USC of each individual in the organization, once the USC of your steering committee has been defined.
To determine at what strategic level your executive committee should operate at all times, I would like to introduce you to the concept I call the decision pyramid. It actually helps to determine at which strategic level you should stay as often as possible by showing you the different strategic levels in an organization.
Where, Why: This level consists of giving a sense of direction, explaining where we want to go, but also why, which allows teams to have a common direction and vision.
What: This level consists of determining expectations, objectives, what needs to be accomplished.
How: At this level, we determine how we achieve the expectations, the objectives. So we determine how the work will be done, by what methods, for example.
At what level are you currently with your steering committee? Are you working at all levels? For example, is your steering committee the one that sets the direction, establishes the objectives for all the operational teams and also establishes how those objectives are to be achieved? If so, it’s probably time to review your USC and where you should really focus your attention and energy, because if you’re working at all levels, you’re probably running out of time and you’re probably not making the impact you really want to have. In fact, a steering committee should mainly focus its attention at the top level of the decision-making pyramid, so you should concentrate mainly on the “Where” and the “Why”. You should therefore focus on giving a vision, a destination to your teams, explaining why we are going in this direction. By giving them this sense of direction, you allow them to know where they’re going and then allow them to find the means to get there on their own. With a clear vision, it is definitely easier for everyone to move forward.
The decision pyramid will be one of the best exercises to assess whether your management committee is fulfilling its CSU, because if it is, decisions will be made at all levels of the organization. This will allow you to focus 70-80% of your attention on the top of the pyramid, and thus on your CSU. If you succeed, it will mean that you have succeeded in supporting your teams to make them more autonomous, by delegating effectively and that a culture of accountability is developing within the organization. If this is not the case, think about reviewing what level you are at on a daily basis and, above all, ask yourself why decisions are not made at all levels. Is it because you cannot delegate? Is it because you have difficulty not giving answers to your teams? Reflecting on these questions will help you identify the behaviours that need to be changed.
Typically, the first reflex of management committees is to define their USC how to lead the teams so that the operations go as planned and the “business keeps rolling”. Then, after a few reflective questions and the presentation of the Decision Pyramid, they come to determine that their USC is at an even more strategic level. Their USC should probably be giving a vision to the teams that report to them, to provide them a sense of direction so that they can then determine how to achieve that vision. Of course, depending on your organization’s mission and vision, your USC might be slightly different. However, regardless of the variables, a steering committee should always be at a fairly high strategic level. This will allow teams at all levels in the organization to have the space to make decisions as well. So always think about the highest strategic level that your steering committee should reach when you are thinking about your USC.
So, today, if you think about what takes the most attention and energy from your executive committee, do you think that these are all elements that relate to your USC? If not, what can you delegate? What doesn’t absolutely need to be done by the steering committee? Once you have determined these elements, you will see evolution and change happen very quickly!
Food for thought!