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Articles - “Take a GIAnT Step”
A new tool promises to assess your organization’s readiness to take on large-scale
by Ted Santos & Edward M. Petrosky
The future success of an organization often depends on disruptive initiatives that drive
new revenues and position the organization as a market leader. While it’s the Board of
Directors’ job to intentionally create strategic problems for the CEO to solve, board
members are sometimes reluctant to use this approach for fear of overwhelming or
disrupting the CEO and staff. The result: Many great ideas are never attempted.
But wait. What if the Board and CEO had some way of measuring the organization’s
readiness to execute large-scale initiatives? What if it was possible to prepare an entire
organization to execute initiatives that appear to be disruptive to the existing business
model? What if the Board and CEO could assess the unspoken objections and concerns
that might derail a particular initiative before it’s even launched, and could take the
necessary steps to avoid them?
The Great Idea Alignment Tool (GIAnT) was created to do just that. This is how it works.
The GIAnT is an organizational satellite that provides a comprehensive vertical and
horizontal picture of your organization. It indicates who is prepared for an initiative, how
prepared they are, and what it will take to get staff ready for the initiative.
The GIAnT consists of more than 200 items that measure 18 human factors that will
drive or derail an initiative, such as urgency, innovation, ownership, commitment, trust
and sabotage. These items are based on a combination of cutting-edge research,
organizational and leadership development theory, and the collective coaching and
consulting experience of the tool’s creators.
The GIAnT is unique in several ways. First, it is individually tailored to assess
preparedness for a specific organization initiative (i.e. the “great idea”). Second, whereas
most comprehensive assessments focus on individual executives, the GIAnT assesses
the organization as a whole. Third, many of the companies that use assessment tools to
inform decision-making limit themselves to employee feedback surveys. These tools
often indicate what people are saying but not what caused them to feel the way they do.
The GIAnT, on the other hand, indicates not simply if people believe in an initiative, but
why they do or don’t. Finally, the GIAnT corrects for positive and negative impression
management; in other words, the degree to which respondents portrayed themselves or
their organization in an exaggeratedly favorable or unfavorable light.
The GIAnT is administered online to each employee. The resulting report is organized in
a top-down format, beginning with a broad snapshot of the organization at 50k feet, and
then drilling down by variables of interest. The GIAnT indicates the percentage of the
organization as a whole and the percentage of each business unit within the
organization that is aligned, resistant, conflicted/ambivalent, and apathetic towards the
Leadership can take this information and use it to decide whether the organization is
ready for a costly initiative. Since results are also provided for each business unit,
company leaders are able to determine where the most and least support lies. Once
they have this information in hand, they can decide which geographical or functional unit
would be optimal for the disruptive initiative’s launch.
Perhaps most importantly, the GIAnT indicates why staff members are either aligned
with or pushing back against the initiative. Company leaders can use this insight to
exploit the factors supporting alignment and to correct the factors causing push back.
The entire assessment process spans about 4 weeks, and includes aligning leadership
on an initiative and individualizing the GIAnT accordingly, a proprietary solution to
maximize the rate of employee GIAnT completion, experientially based feedback
sessions to leadership and staff, and action plan development and execution.
Cheryl S. Wilson, CPA, principal of Wilson-Heidrich Associates, Financial Accounting
Advisors, serves on a board that recently used the GIAnT to launch a new initiative. As
she explains, “A major capital improvements program along with the related financing
has been approved for this corporation by the Board of Directors. Millions of dollars are
to be spent over the next three years. The additional debt service and continual increase
in operating costs make improved operating efficiency and new revenue streams an
imperative. A focused, expeditious launch of a new initiative was called for and the
Board didn’t have the time or skill sets to obtain the information we needed to evaluate
our options or determine the probability of success.
“I thought if we could obtain the organizational reasons why certain past initiatives were
never fully launched or, if launched, were not successful, then this insight would provide
the Board with the necessary information to modify our strategy and its execution to
allow us to achieve our desired growth objectives,” she explains. “The organizational
assessment we chose, the GIAnT, could provide objective information we otherwise
could not obtain.”
Wilson goes on to explain that, in essence, the GIAnT provides a virtual walk around the
entire organization—a walk around that leadership would never have the time to take on
its own. It also provides a data-driven basis for predicting whether an initiative is likely to
succeed and what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of success.
“We interacted with the entire organization in less than two months and increased
engagement throughout all levels of the corporation, therefore achieving alignment of the
Board, CEO and management and staff on an innovative initiative,” says Wilson.
“Involving the entire organization in the assessment emphasized the importance of the
project, instilled urgency and energized the management and staff.”
Today, the Board and CEO are taking action much more rapidly than they have in the
past, says Wilson. “Board member attendance and participation at meetings has
increased. The entire Board is engaged and aligned on new initiatives with targeted
outcomes and completion dates. Communication has improved significantly and
members of the Board are working as a team to address issues.”
Ted Santos, CEO of Turnaround Investment Partners (TIP), partners with CEOs and
board members, serves as a trusted advisor to companies going through change, and
coaches executives to uncover and penetrate untapped markets, shift corporate cultures
and align staff and management to the corporate vision. Dr. Edward M. Petrosky, a
psychologist by training, focuses on organizational alignment, retention, executive
development, succession planning, outcome measures and hiring. He has presented at
national professional conferences, published in peerreviewed scientific journals, and
taught 11 different psychology courses to undergraduate and graduate students. Dr.
Petrosky maintains a private consulting practice in Forest Hills, NY. Visit
www.turnaroundip.com for more information on GIAnT.
“Reprinted courtesy of INSIGHT Magazine, The Magazine of the Illinois CPA Society.
For the latest issue, visit www.icpas.org/insight.htm”