On February 4th, I will be joining CAMRT as its next CEO. The Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists is Canada’s national professional association for radiological, nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging technologists and radiation therapists. CAMRT offers a suite of programs that advance the profession. These include certification, continuing professional development opportunities, publication of a journal, strengthening professional practice as well as advocacy to promote the effective contribution of MRTs in healthcare. CAMRT serves over 12,000 members (more at www.camrt.ca).
These are exciting times to join the association. Technology is evolving at a fast pace and demand for services is rising. I look forward to joining the talented team of individuals at CAMRT.
My plan is to continue to blog on occasion on a revamped site. So please stay tuned.
With sincere gratitude for your much appreciated loyal readership.
Textbook strategic planning is too often bland and static. It loses the sharp focus and energy vital to execution.
What emerges is a watered-down list of broad goals. Sigh… who will implement all this and how?
“Bad strategy generates a feeling of dull annoyance when you listen to it.” (Rumelt)
Effective strategies confront the core issues of your organization. They are as much about what you will not do as they are about what you will do. They prioritize efforts. They take courage- they impose difficult choices: re-allocating scarce resources from non-strategic activities.
Strategies must be revisited as needed, not at fixed intervals- the world does not work in nicely ordained 3 years plans!
Good strategies spur a cycle of action and learning: you reflect, plan and act. Reflect, plan and act again.
Daniel Kahneman is a professor of psychology at Princeton University. He received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics. In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he distills a lifelong journey of learning into over 400 pages of insights.
Humans, it turns out, are not such rational animals after all. We are all victims of intuitive biases. Read the book, and if you’re looking for a few quick tips, read on.
- Most people are over-confident, placing too much faith in their intuition.
- We tend to make important decisions based on the coherence of the information presented rather than the completeness of the information.
- The Halo Effect leads to the “tendency to like (or dislike) everything about a person”. This is especially risky in groups where we might place more value in views of certain people than others, regardless of the strength of their arguments.
- “Optimism is widespread, stubborn, and costly.” For example, most sales representatives tend to be overly optimistic in their forecasts; entrepreneurs are over-confident in their chance of success; investors believe in their knack to predict market swings.
- CEOs influence the performance of their companies to a much lesser extent than the business press would suggest: “stories of success and failure consistently exaggerate the impact of leadership style and management practices on firms’ outcomes.” Further, “even if you had perfect foreknowledge that a CEO has brilliant vision and extraordinary competence, you still would be unable to predict how the company will perform with much better accuracy than the flip of a coin.”
- Luck has a huge importance in the future (and past) successes of organizations- Knowing this, we should be suspicious or studies comparing the performance of various companies (Good to great for example)
- Be guarded against overconfidence (in yourself or others): confidence is a feeling. It does not correlate with accuracy. Many so called “experts” operate under the “illusion of skill”.
- We are driven more strongly to avoid losses than to achieve gains. This might explain the reluctance of organizations to embrace change.
- My favourite: “An unbiased appreciation of uncertainty is a cornerstone of rationality- but it is not what people and organizations want.”
We tend to oversimplify reality. There are few domains so prone to this tendency than the study of the influence of great leaders and their strategies. Three outstanding authors offer remarkable insights: Tolstoy, Mintzberg and Kahneman.
Tolstoy’s War and Peace is one of my favorite novels. The author cleverly debunks the myth that generals can singlehandedly define the outcome of great battles (in this case Borodino- Russia against Napoleon). History is the sum of random events and circumstances, the result of the evolution and adaptation of organizational systems over time. Generals and their strategies are important, but luck, weather, individual soldiers’ behaviour have an even greater role in determining the fate of battles.
Mintzberg in his article “The Honda effect revisited” uses the example of the launch of Honda motorcycles in the USA to come to the same conclusion: “Western consultants, academics and executives express a preference for oversimplification of reality and cognitively linear explanation of events…we tend to impute coherence and purposive rationality to events when the opposite may be closer to the truth.” The story is fascinating: in 1975, the Boston Consulting Group prepared a report for the British government in which it explained the grand strategic scheme that allowed Honda to penetrate the American motorcycle market in the early ‘60s. In 1982, Mintzberg gathered the 6 Honda executives who had been responsible for the introduction of the motorcycles in America. What he found was that there success “did not result from a bold insight by a few brains at the top.” Actually the initial strategy failed miserably. “What saved Honda was the cumulative impact of “little brains” in the form of salesman and dealers and production workers, all contributing incrementally to the quality and market position.”
Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow provides further ammunitions to set straight the fallacy that business success and failures can be exclusively assigned to leaders and their strategies: “we humans constantly fool ourselves by constructing flimsy accounts of the past and believing they are true…the illusion that one has understood the past feeds that further illusion that one can predict and control the future.” Be careful not to oversimplify the causes of success and failures: ” Because luck plays a large role, the quality of leadership and management practices cannot be inferred reliably from observation of success. And even if you had prefect foreknowledge that a CEO has brilliant vision and extraordinary competence, you still would be unable to predict how the company will perform with much better accuracy than the flip of a coin.”
Do leaders and their strategies influence the likelihood success of enterprises? Yes, definitely they do, but their impacts are much smaller than business mythology would suggest.
What’s been your experience?