The operational pressure is too much

The operational pressure is too much

This sentence was uttered during a conversation I had last week with a colleague of mine who worked initially in consulting and then in industry. He was commenting on his learnings about past consulting practices on the back of the experience of being in a hard-charging CEO role running a complex business.

Specifically, he was referring to how hard it is to make CEO-driven improvements in a business when the day-to-day operational strain is so high.

I experience this a lot in my CEO Advisory work. The desire is there to improve, but the barriers to that improvement are high. Things get in the way, operational risk is high, and the proclivity to get caught in the detail is ever-present. We can all relate, I’m sure.

As a consultant, this is something I have to watch carefully in my work, making sure that the volume and complexity of the engagement is the right size for the business to be able to ‘swallow’ it.

I wondered if this could be a good lens for you, the CEO, to develop too?

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The same CEO shared a piece of advice with me around this. “Do one thing” was the guidance he received from a seasoned, highly successful CEO. There is a temptation to overload Operational Game Plans (which deliver your Strategy) in the name of ambition, progress, or need. Totally understandable.

But when the volume of changes or improvements or additions you’re trying to make exceed a business’ bandwidth to digest them, those initiatives will be spat out. They’ll fail and you’ll likely have to restart them down the line.

As a CEO, your greatest leverage is likely getting an initiative done all the way through. Right until it’s fully operationalised. How often are you able to achieve this?

If you find yourself wanting to discuss this further, please feel free to reach out to me.

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My weekly missive, CEO Sundays, is published at 5pm every Sunday evening. The writings cover CEO topics exclusively: how-to’s; thought starters; leadership insights; reflection opportunities; research.

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