Along with the challenges of a continuing public health crisis, employee engagement is on the decline, which spells bigger trouble for business and HR leaders everywhere. Most work cultures today are at the ‘transactional’ level of engagement. (See Wright Foundation Engagement Continuum graphic, below.) A transactional engagement dominant culture can undermine an organization’s ability to counter the loss of in-person connection in the workplace that the pandemic has introduced. As remote meetings have replaced in-person contact and opportunities for employees to talk together at impromptu “water cooler” chats, employees have lost the sense of connectedness they innately seek in their workplaces.
In this landscape, companies must rethink their engagement strategies. This opens up opportunities for HR executives to expand their own understanding of how to meet their employees where they are, and to model qualities of attunement to others, vulnerability, and seeking deeper connection and meaning in the workplace remote, hybrid, or in-person. This requires skills and a level of personal risk for HR executives as they learn to lead individuals and teams ways to move from transactional to transformational engagement.
“Individual and group transformational experiences through engagement can be achieved when organizations create cultures that are Mission-Driven as opposed to Mission-Challenged,” says John Davidoff, Founder and Chief Mission-Driver at Davidoff Strategy. A mission-challenged organization often creates tactics and programs without accurately diagnosing the situation for their employees and their organization. On the other hand, a mission-driven organization focuses on aligning to principles of risk, personal and professional satisfaction, and developing a learning culture.
We developed our Mission Driven approach out of our dissatisfaction with traditional strategic planning processes, often observed to be created in a vacuum and absent of critical thought
These can be embedded through sound organizational planning and leadership skill development—especially related to social and emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and orientation to principles – the “how” of how teams work together.
This is where Davidoff Mission-Driven Business Strategy (Davidoff Strategy) makes a difference. Davidoff’s suite of organizational and leadership development services encompass transformational team training approaches through departmental or cross-departmental cohort models, executive coaching, women’s leadership development, organizational planning, and strategizing. Davidoff Strategy develops authentic mission-driven organizations, helping them create high-functioning teams and high-functioning individuals.
“We sought to delve into the nitty-gritty of organizational dynamics and culture, and spent over 20 years studying various aspects of developmental psychology, existential philosophy, human potential, educational theory, neuroscience, and other research to inform our methodology,” says John. “Our dedication to our own lifelong learning helps us understand personal and organizational potential and the core barriers and opportunities associated with organizational development.”
Organizational Development Rooted in Planning, Action, and Measurement
Davidoff Strategy’s proprietary Mission-Driven methodology provides a comprehensive approach to business, strategic, and operational planning to address complex challenges and design effective solutions. “We developed our Mission-Driven approach out of our dissatisfaction with traditional organizational planning processes, often observed to be created in a vacuum of personal agendas and absent of critical thought,” says John. The company designed a methodology that brings an elevated level of critical thinking to its clients, grounded in an accurate description of their current situation and an articulated vision of the ideal state. The methodology challenges organizational assumptions and norms that typically go unquestioned and uncovers blocks and pathways towards attaining greater organizational effectiveness.
Davidoff Strategy’s model for achieving authentic Mission- Driven status includes a comprehensive, responsive, and relevant strategic plan; continuous leadership development emphasizing a growth mindset; and a drama-free, high-performing culture built on the principle of responsibility and absence of blame, shame or justification.
A Novel Organizational Development Continuum
Planning is the cornerstone of Davidoff Strategy’s methodology. “We invested in finding a better way for groups to plan because we rarely saw plans that called for the organization to achieve greater potential. Many plans are glorified to-do lists or even maps of what the organization already does,” says John. In fact, the company’s leadership team enrolled in graduate school to study the academic concepts behind true personal and organizational transformation—where an organization taps its untapped potential and achieves results it never thought possible before.
Davidoff Strategy embraces the Ideal State Action Planning (ISAP) process, developed by Dr. Bob Wright, wherein its experts assess the present state of a project, brand, or organization—via qualitative and quantitative research—and identify an ‘ideal state’ while also discerning the hurdles and opportunities along the way to reaching that state. Davidoff Strategy achieves this with situational assessments such as its ‘Mission-Driven vs. Mission- Challenged’ assessments, alongside other analysis like SWOT to benchmark best practices and diagnose the situations to address.
Most organizations tend to think the barriers to their growth and success are external. We have found most barriers are internal.
Wright Ideal State Action Planning
“Most organizations tend to think the barriers to their growth and success are external. We have found most barriers are internal. We help organizations identify and address these. We have found that it’s the often unspoken internal barriers that are limiting the organization’s growth. We are able to help leaders see their people have way more capacity in them. This opens up spaces for employees at all levels to discover what they’re capable of and to see they are in a game of continual self-development. It shifts the whole organization — the energy and aliveness and generativity is amazing!” says Jacki Davidoff, Principal and Chief Potential Officer, Davidoff Strategy.
“Engagement is a key principle throughout our Mission-Driven methodology. Engaging is about bringing your whole self to a situation, including your thoughts, emotions, and actions. We believe that a conscious, highly self-aware culture of individuals and teams is what makes an organization effective,” adds Lynette Morris, Vice President, Director of Client Engagement & Strategy at Davidoff Strategy.
Giving Companies the Edge in Tackling Adversities
Davidoff Strategy creates a safe environment for employees to share their thoughts, and while doing this, the company helps organizations address conflicts. Mission-Drivers embrace conflict, knowing that the productive resolution of differing viewpoints gives new understanding and vision, leading to new potential. Further, Mission-Drivers use crisis moments to initiate conversations with key stakeholders to identify organizational gaps. “It is easy to plan after a situation is resolved, but it is also a missed opportunity. Turning into the fire while it is burning can add the heat that is needed to overcome denial and address shortcomings,” mentions Jacki, implying the importance of being Mission-Driven during unprecedented situations such as the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
With the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across enterprises, Davidoff Strategy urges companies to adopt responsive planning. It is essentially a five-step process that begins with a gap analysis that helps companies identify their strengths and weaknesses and map out the necessary standard in areas of leadership, planning, and culture. The other steps practically align with Davidoff Strategy’s Mission-Driven methodology: planning, developing priorities and action steps, sharing plans with internal stakeholders to seek their perspectives, communicating them with external stakeholders before implementation, and lastly, monitoring the external environment and adjusting the plan in real-time. “The benefits of responsive planning are immediate and long-term. Taking this approach increases your organization’s capacity to adapt to changing circumstances, real-time. In the long term, responsive planning ensures your organization navigates through crises in a way that will serve as a model for future planning and strategy,” adds Lynette.
Driven by Customer Satisfaction
The success stories that Davidoff Strategy has scripted are aplenty, exemplifying the value proposition of their Mission-Driven organizational development principles and programs. On the leadership coaching front, Davidoff Strategy leads a collaborative process for Nashville-based JMT Consulting Group to define and articulate its internal culture, principles/ values, and operating agreements in order to empower the organization to reach higher levels of accountability, responsibility, leadership, and excellence. Davidoff Strategy supported JMT to refine its work culture in terms of onboarding new employees, deeply integrating current employees, and improving service to its clients. The company provides ongoing consulting, training, and coaching services to continue supporting a high-performing learning culture for the JMT team and executive leadership.
Similarly, with a mission to improve the wellbeing of older adults in America, a national association requested strategic counsel from Davidoff Strategy on two initiatives. Davidoff Strategy was engaged in conceptualizing and developing an Executive Council of national strategic partners to align with the association’s foundation in ensuring older adults are not subject to living in isolation. The company developed the campaign plan, goals, objectives, and success metrics. Secondly, through Davidoff Strategy’s consulting, the foundation accelerated new grant funding to nonprofit initiatives all over the U.S. to continue fostering new program concepts where teens teach older adults.
In another instance, Davidoff Strategy’s strategic business planning engaged the Executives’ Club of Chicago’s members, staff, leadership, and board in a process to re-assess the club’s value proposition, vision, mission, and guiding principles, and to address questions related to leadership and board governance. With Davidoff Strategy’s assistance, the club continues to identify and implement the prioritized strategies by directing their focus and resources toward its best use and greatest relevancy.
The scope of Davidoff Strategy’s Mission-Driven organizational development principles and programs far exceed the narrative limits of this cover story. On that note, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that Davidoff’s Mission-Driven ideologies relate to organizations the way the ‘smart’ tag relates to gadgets