Conventional wisdom dictates that the bigger companies are, the slower and less effective they operate. Hence, corporations adopt agile and lean, they flatten their hierarchies and urge their employees to "fail". And still, many are utterly missing the point. What does it really take for complex organizations to act quickly and decisively?
"I know more about courts
than any human being on
"I know more about people
who get ratings than anyone.
"I know more about ISIS than
the generals do.
"Nobody knows more about
trade than me.
"I know more about
renewables than any human
being on Earth.
"I think nobody knows more
about taxes than I do, maybe
in the history of the world.
of course not Trump!
But the archetypical
(Sometimes even called Leader.)
Anyway, this is cool:
„It doesn't make
sense to hire smart
people and tell them
what to do; we hire
smart people so
they can tell us
what to do.“
Photo by MatthewYohe
No plan survives
with the enemy.
“No plan of operations can extend with
any degree of certainty beyond the first
encounter with the enemy’s main body.“
(Helmuth von Moltke the Elder)
Command & Control Hierarchy
" Slow to react and adapt
" Crititical information loss
" Single point of failure (top leader)
" Complex communication
" Laborious decision process
" No central point of alignment
! What (to achieve) and why?
Instead of precise orders
communicate intents and purposes
“Do not command more than is necessary,
or plan beyond the circumstances you can foresee.”
Leave the concrete solution
to the experts
“... an order should contain all, but also only, what subordinates cannot
determine for themselves to achieve a particular purpose.”
(Helmuth von Moltke the Elder)
We are on a mission!
What: Save Private Ryan!
Why: Avoid further morale issues at home.
How: Left to the team
(within certain constraints).
Practiced and refined by XING since 2015
Framework for Collaborative Alignment
Structured discussion of
new product initiatives
" Aligning the product team and
" Enabling more autonomy for the product
team (”Autonomy through alignment”)
Cascading strategic intent („Briefing“)
How to mission-command the whole organization
"The strategy of the
down as strategic
" What to achieve?
"The org unit decides on
Aligning understanding („Backbriefing“)
Tell me what and why, and I will tell you how
"The org unit breaks
down the strategic
intent into tasks
"Tasks and possible
discussed with the
"Once agreed, the tasks
become the „what“ of
the next level.
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash
Where to go from here?
Photo by Wolfgang Rottmann on Unsplash
Central idea(s) giving
direction and focus.
§Invite active and open discussion of company strategy.
§Actively assure that everybody in the organization
understands their part in the strategy.
§Communicate strategic intents instead of detailed plans.
§Use backbriefing and other formats to enable insights to
trickle up to management. Refine strategy, if necessary.
Develop a culture of
granting and taking
L. David Marquet:
Leader – Follower Leader – Leader
" Growth Mindset
" Personal Maturity*
(aka Team Player)
" Support efficacy
* See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loevinger%27s_stages_of_ego_developmentSee https://svpg.com/empowered-product-teams/
Do not rely on heroes
Bad alignment is often compensated by hero roles:
§Project Manager (in former times)
§Also: Designer, DevOps, Hero Developer etc.
è Burning out some of your best resources.
è “Lateral Leadership” will not resolve organizational issues.
„The intelligence of
an organization is
never equal to the
sum of the
intelligence of the
people within it.“
You still got questions?
@minutefforts / @Anstrengungslos
Where to go from here, if I peaked your interest.
Meine Artikelserie bei
Der bald erscheinende zweite
Artikel beschäftigt sich mit
Management und Strategie als
Voraussetzung für modernes
Einige der Konzepte dieses
Vortrags werden hier vertieft
Thema „Moderne Designprozesse“ Sorry, German only
Books developing central concepts of this talk
Books about product management
facilitating the concepts of this talk
What is strategy?
" 5 Myths About Strategy, Stephen Bungay
" The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, Roger L. Martin
" Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?, David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad
" How to Run a Quarterly Product Strategy Meeting: A Board Meeting for Product, Gibson Biddle
And what is it not? – Some articles about strategy
Empowering teams, developing people
" Empowered Product Teams, Marty Cagan
https://svpg.com/empowered-product-teams/ + https://vimeo.com/340648597 (talk at mtp)
How to shift responsibility and initiative down to the edge
Strategy is layered
Based on Build Trap by Melissa Perri - created by Charles Lambdin
This may sound familiar …
"Output over Outcome!
"Stop shipping features
"Escape the Build Trap!
The two modes of an employer
All stuff not creating value for
the company and/or the
If this gets bad, people start to run in
autopilot. Getting from 9am to 5pm as
painless as possible. Doing stupid things
without questioning the status quo.
Creating the most value
possible in the given
People know the companies intent and
are allowed to figure out the best
possible way they can support it.They
feel empowered and effective.