As we began to develop the storyboard and approach for our rebranding and new website over a year ago, we spent a good deal of time in dialogue among team members about the relationships between our four focus areas shown in the graphic above and throughout the “what we offer” pages on our website.

From intuition built on years and years of experience, we kind of “get” the power of these relationships and why together they are such a potent formula for success. And, it’s not always that easy to explain to clients who trust us to bring them insight and on how to leverage their organizational learning and development investments.

Recently it coalesced for me in a meeting with a new client.  It’s the Golden Thread of the old school strategic planning processes reimagined.  It is clarifying and acknowledging that without culture, strategy matters little and without strategy, your culture is just a club. Learning how to execute effectively on strategy and manage change is what makes it real and courageous, committed and accountable leadership is what it takes every single day to see it through.

There is a good deal of tension between all of these elements.  Almost every week we coach our clients on how to recognize and find the right balance.  Focusing on strategic thinking and blue sky potential is exciting and energizing.  Building a culture where employees can understand how to contribute, collaborate and make good decisions is empowering and fun.  Gaining competency in the tools of agile planning and delivery is exhilarating—and measuring progress and knowing how and where to improve for the next quarter is rewarding, especially as the results start showing up in the metrics!  Developing strong and courageous leaders throughout your organization builds bench strength and accelerates succession planning.   And each of these can be over or under focused on.

The sweet spot for consistent high performance is that golden thread. Making sure that each strand in the process is strong and holding.  This is more or less a constant evaluation and adjustment process.  It’s a bit like sailing to me.  You have a lot of things to manage, and small adjustments can mean a lot.  In racing, the helmsman and sail managers are in constant communication, even when they are not dramatically changing course.  Trim, adjust, and trim again.

Ultimately, we feel that’s our secret sauce.  Embracing that there is NO secret sauce. And yes we need t-shirts that say that. It is hard work, discipline, and persistence that will win the day. Knowing that the journey really is the destination, and making your organization a truly great place to work is the work. And the reward.