It’s the start of the year, a time when many companies begin planning the year ahead. Getting from where you are now to where you want to be is a journey. A journey akin to mountain climbing.

As with all journeys, we must plan the climb first and then execute it. I like the climbing metaphor because it highlights another key aspect: the journey is a human endeavor. As such, there is a third element in addition to planning and executing.

Successful climb teams know they need to come together not as a collection of individual climbers but as a single climbing unit. They need to be aligned in their purpose and attuned to each other, choosing, and behaving at all times for the success of the whole. Everyone knows that their individual success is achieved when the whole team makes it to the top.

The Living Organization® System (TLOS™) is a strategy execution system uniquely designed to integrate the human element into business planning and execution.

The planning phase has four elements. First is the assessment of the current position, strengths, and weaknesses of the organization. Second is establishing the Strategic Compass™, making explicit why we exist, who we serve, the impact we want to make, and the character of the organization. Third is creating an explicit understanding of the organization’s business model, the key drivers of revenue and expenses and the organization’s resources and constraints. This provides everyone a CEO / CFO view of the company so they can see the whole picture, not just their part of the organization. The fourth element is developing the journey’s roadmap, the goals, objectives, key initiatives, and targets to get the journey started.

Here most strategy work stops. With the plan in place and communicated throughout the organization, leaders assume it will be executed.

This traditional approach is based on believing the organization is like a machine to be designed and programmed from the top with people simply following the program and performing according to that design.This is why most executions fail.

In contrast, TLOS views the organization as a living being and applies the principles of human nature and how individuals and collectives create results. It doesn’t just focus on the activity of creating a Strategic Compass, designing the business model, and defining the roadmap. It uses these activities to create an alignment and attunement for the organization to operate as a single climbing unit. All individuals work together as a single living being.

Viewing an organization as a living being gives us a deeper insight into its true nature and how to work with all the hidden forces that motivate its behavior. As leaders, we know if the team adopts a certain level of responsibility and ownership, we can achieve timely outcomes cost-effectively. Like the climbers, they need to work together supporting each other and making decisions based on what is good for the whole.

The Strategic Compass, business model, and roadmap provide the context for individuals to define their contribution to the success of the whole and the guidelines to make effective decisions on their own, eliminating the leader as a bottle neck. The Strategic Compass gives the collective the deep, meaningful why. The business model provides the guidelines for effective resource allocations. The roadmap provides the direction the journey will take.

With the preparation for the journey complete, the execution of the journey begins. And this is where the real work starts.

Organizations at any point in time have a certain level of capability and maturity, which defines their capacity to execute. A living being perspective helps us take a developmental view of an organization. The role of the leader isn’t to simply design the machine but to guide the development of its collective capability and maturity.

Goals serve as a catalyst to the developmental process igniting the need and desire to enhance individual and collective capacity. They learn how their existing context – mindset, stories, and beliefs – determine their behaviors, which in turn creates their outcomes. They learn how to work with contexts and change them to get the outcomes they desire.

They also learn to identify their ecosystem of relationships, internal and external, and how to enhance those relationships to support their success. TLOS facilitates the leaders’ shift from the role of programming the machine to a leader who guides the development of the maturity and capability of the organization.

We develop leaders’ abilities to move into the heart center, to enhance their decision-making, combining intuition and insight with the rational. We develop their ability to communicate and connect with compassion and caring. They discover how to reframe stories that define context and how to build the scaffolding to support a new context. They learn to use an improvisation mindset, allowing them to respond effectively to periods of uncertainty. They see how to balance and integrate opposing perspectives to create the ideal solution out of ambiguity.

If your team faces a steep and difficult climb, contact us to find out how the Living Organization can prepare your organization for success all the way to the top.