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Leaders Letter 110 – The Negative Positive Framework – An Exercise When Preparing For A Downmarket

Dear leaders, I would be doing myself and my focus services a disservice if I didn’t talk about the difficult climate almost all of us are facing. 

Recently there have been many headcount cuts, internal company culture imploding, and companies reducing spend and reshuffling their packs and offerings to work through how the company can continue in this market. 

Strategy is bumped up in importance and Culture is often given the back seat until these important decisions are made. Rightly or wrongly this is how 99% of organisations have to work in survival mode. 

I have worked through and lived through previous big macroeconomic events and been part of organisations fighting for their lives (one, unfortunately, going into administration and another laying off 40% of staff) and it never gets easier for the staff or leadership. 

There is a framework and exercise I created that will help you in the current situation could help you make informed decisions in a framework. 

It is the: Negative Positive Framework

The Negative Positive Exercise: 

  • Group Collaboration: Grab two sets of post-it notes, use two different colours and ideally the larger-sized post-it notes. This can be down on Google slides, notion or miro (or whatever remote or hybrid solution you use). 
    • Break into two teams (ideally with a mix of the most senior and most strategic)
    • One team will take the negatives and the other will take positives 
  • Negative – Write down all the negative thoughts, statements and performance indicators you have. Whoever is the most negative they will love this exercise and many will say i told you so…let them run wild with this section. 
  • Positive – Write down everything you have that are positives, list where there are potentials and where you could optimise or ramp up activities. You will want people with growth mindsets and those who are deliveries working hard on the positives. 
  • Review: When you review these, attempt to pair the negatives and positives together and batch them into categories and subcategories, this way enables you to discuss the best way forward and create a map out potential movements forward. 
    • Any of these that have a cultural impact or impacts subcultures, it is imperative you mark with a special symbol and address these and consider how you shape success with culture front of mind 
  • Action: Break these into your beliefs, build out your bets and build out a six, twelve and eighteen-month roadmap. Mark down the decisions that were made and clearly mark and reshare your decision document.
  • Present and Empower: Present to your team and build action plans around these steps. This should still align with the company-wide strategy but the plans of action will change as will the tactics.   

This is a similar methodology to the risks and benefits framework I recommended before and allows you to build up a way of reviewing the past, reviewing the current options and building the blocks for a more successful future, while showing transparency and being able to discuss the situation company-wide. 

Thanks for reading again this week and I trust this exercise is simple to roll out in your business. 

Danny Denhard

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