I frequently find a comment by a CEO who has successfully turned the corner on a previously under-performing company to be so "spot on" that it bears illumination. Readers' Digest was taken private by a group led by Ripplewood Holdings in 2007 and, led by CEO Mary Berner, has made great strides. A comment by her in today's NYTimes made me smile: "I'd rather change too much and get 20% of it wrong than not change enough. And to do that, everybody has to buy in."
In two sentences she captured a lot, including several essential points of the philosophy i have successfully used and relentlessly expoused.
#1. I am often asked "What is the one common trait you experience in the dysfunctional companies you take on--I presume it's that the previous management made many bad decisions?". No, the common trait is that the previous management did not make decisions--with the result that the entire organization is tangled up in its underwear. When required decisions are not made, nothing is learned, and the organization becomes stagnant. Berner knows that, even with 20% of the decisions winding up being wrong, the organization learns from the mistakes and makes even better decisions going forward. (See more in the subtopic Forget Brilliance found in C. Decisive Action Trumps Perfection)
#2. Everybody can't buy-in if the decisions that are made are done in a vacuum without much input from people in the organization. So involve (as Berner does) many people in the decision process. (See more in E. Aggregate Wisdom: Smart Company, Smart CEO--and especially in the subtopic "Harvest Organizational Wisdom")
#3. Effective organizational performance then comes from effectively and clearly communicating to the entire organization the directions and decisions taken. With that clear communication, middle managers are enabled to make parallel and supporting decisions and themselves become highly confident and effective. (See more in the subtopics NorthWest Strategy and Direct Communications found in C.Decisive Action Trumps Perfection)