Strategic Insights to Inspire your Journey

Who's on First? What a lack of role clarity looks like.

Who’s on first? Dunno. Third base.

I love this classic vaudeville routine from Abbot and Costello.  If you have not seen it, watch it and enjoy laughing until you tear up.

But imagine how frustrated Bud Abbot and Lou Costello would be in real life if this was not a comedy routine.  I can; I have seen this frustration and sometimes disappointment when roles are not clear during the implementation of a new strategic direction.

The Implementation Gotcha!

The excitement and commitment generated during great strategy development is quickly replaced by frustration when one team member assumes a leadership role during execution only to find out another is doing the same.  Disappointment soon follows.  It is humiliating to learn in a group meeting that you are not the ones chosen to take an important role in leading a hot new strategic initiative. It can be especially demoralizing when you have started to take steps with your team only to go back and tell them, “Hold on, don't continue your work on this. We are not going to be leading this.”

Too often the excitement of getting a great new plan green-lighted can rush people into action before they have taken the critical step of role clarity. Role clarity is when you review not only what you are going to do, but who is going to take specific roles and be accountable for delivering specific results necessary to achieve the shared objectives.

What, Role Clarity, Really? 

We know our jobs?  This is a waste of time. We need to get started, now!

If these words are not spoken aloud when I bring up role clarity with my clients, I know they are thinking them.  And yes, role clarity has to be one of the first steps after you have won approval on your new plan.

All organizations have silos that provide camouflage to individuals or teams and result in wasteful redundancies.  When implementation plans skip the role clarity step, a key discipline of strategic management is also skipped resulting in a more lengthy and costly implementation of new strategic goals.  Taking the time to sort out roles and processes after defining goals also reinforces the shared accountability critical to success. It guides  partnering among peer groups and defines clearly how they will work together. 

If you combine your first implementation planning discussion with a role clarity discussion, you will cover all the basics for strong, aligned implementation: what, who, how and when! 

role clarity exercise

Post Tags: Strategic Management

CECILIA LYNCH, Author, Founder and Chief Strategist


As the leading authority on strategic thinking, Cecilia Lynch is the founder and chief strategist at Focused Momentum® and creator of Strategy Class®. Her first book, “Strategic Focus: The Art of Strategic Thinking” a groundbreaking work that demystifies the overwhelming task of beginning strategy development.  READ MORE...

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