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Blog: Quote
  • Writer's pictureTara Rethore

Addressing the Missing Piece

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

Michael Watkins' book, The First 90 Days, is a terrific resource for leaders at all levels who want to navigate a new role successfully. His practical frameworks help accelerate a leader’s development and add value to the organization. Nevertheless, in Part 1 of this article, we revealed something Watkins missed, particularly for CEOs: decision rights and information flow.

So, what have successful CEOs learned about this?

Research by Gary Neilson, Karla Martin, and Elizabeth Powers revealed that those two things – decision rights and information flow – are the top two factors needed for successful strategy execution. (Harvard Business Review, June 2008) Yet, even among the high-performance organizations in their research, few translate important strategic decisions effectively into action or share information consistently and freely throughout the organization. And, failing to address these has a huge impact on strategy execution.

Successful CEOs have learned to assess their organization’s performance regarding decision rights and information flow. And so can you. For example, consider these questions:

  • Does everyone know who is accountable for taking which decisions? (decision rights)

  • Is the right data getting to the right people, at the right time, so that good decisions are possible? (information flow)

  • Does everyone understand the decision, in the same way? (alignment)

  • Has each leader accepted the decision? (alignment)

  • Is the decision communicated to the right people, at the right time, so that it can be implemented as intended? (decision rights and information flow)

  • Do your senior leaders understand their roles in implementing the decision? (decisions rights and information flow)

  • Does everyone understand what happens if the decision is not honored? (accountability)

Where you answered ‘no’, perhaps dive more deeply to better understand what’s getting in the way. Then, identify the patterns or themes across all of your answers to isolate root causes. From that, CEOs can build a plan to remedy the situation and get strategy execution on track – whether within the first 90 days, the last 90 days, or anything in between.


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