Margret Trilli Shares Her Superpower

Prominent Impact Investor Teaches Us How to Master Strategy Development and Implementation

  
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The following text, related to this podcast episode, is a sample chapter from my new book Superpowers for Good. Get your copy today.

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Devin: What is your superpower, Margret?

Margret: One of my core values is being modest and humble. So, the way your question is framed is difficult for me. That said, I have been told by colleagues that I am a visionary and strategic leader.

But I also really enjoy the execution. My strategies tend to always incorporate what's feasible, and they always extend through execution. I enjoy making the strategy come alive. I've spent times in my career where I was doing only one or only the other. And what surprised me is that when I was the head of strategy for an organization, I missed the execution. Not a lot of people like both. I do.

You can watch the full interview with Margret here: margret.s4g.biz.

Margret Trilli, the CEO of ImpactAssets, has helped accelerate the growth of the nonprofit impact investment company since she joined in the fall of 2018, tripling the assets. She has also led the dramatic expansion of giving.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, grants reached $200 million. At the same time, the organization made impact investments of the same scale, meaning that ImpactAssets deployed a total of $400 million for good during the crisis.

One example of an investment made by ImpactAssets was a $12 million fund created for microloans for smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs. The program ultimately made $63 million in loans to almost 1 million individuals by revolving the capital as borrowers repaid their loans. The funds were effectively recycled more than five times.

That $12 million fund is a powerful example of the difference made by the $1.5 billion Margret manages at ImpactAssets. It drives change for good and provides investors with a financial return.

Margret sees how her ability to develop strategy and execute the implementation successfully helps her drive more good. She can now create strategies that the organization can implement readily, moving quickly from ideation to impact.

She started her career on the execution side and loved it. She can see how to make things work considering the constraints, challenges and issues that her colleagues raise and addressing them.

You can learn to do the same.

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How to Develop Strategy Development and Implementation as a Superpower

Margret joined me for a follow-up interview to discuss how you can learn to emulate her, making strategy development and implementation your superpower. You can watch that second interview here: margret2.s4g.biz. [The podcast associated with this post is the audio from this second interview.]

She points out that many books are available to help you learn to think more strategically and execute more effectively. She encourages aspiring leaders to look for opportunities to work on both sides, spending time developing strength in both disciplines.

She offers additional insights to help people on each side to develop a greater understanding of the other side.

Those working on the strategy side, such as people who do or have done management consulting with a mandate to develop strategic plans, can develop execution chops using skills they already have. If you’re in this group, look at how you can break down a strategy that may start with a big, hairy audacious goal (BHAG from Jim Collins’ Good to Great) into smaller chunks.

As you work down into the details, more of what you’ll need to address is operational. The more you think about the operational nuances, the better you’ll execute on implementation when you have that opportunity.

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She adds that it is vital for folks on the strategic side to respect the role of people doing the implementation. Their functions are critical. You may be tempted to scoff at the part of the corporate attorney, but by considering their concerns early in the process, you can accelerate and improve implementation. This is true across the organization. Consider as many of the functional issues as early in the process as possible.

On the other side, folks doing the crucial work of the company day in and day out may feel a desire for more strategic opportunities. Margret notes that everyone has opportunities to build those strategic muscles.

First, recognize that you are likely already doing some strategic work. Anytime you are revising a process or planning an event, you are strategic. By looking for ways to achieve something new or improve outcomes, you’re thinking about how inputs lead to results. That’s strategy.

Second, she says you can build your capacity to be strategic by intentionally using your growing strategic power to improve further the work you manage. By involving other people in your strategic initiatives, you build on your capacity.

Ultimately, whether you are coming from the strategic or operational side of the organization, you can strengthen your other abilities to become effective on both. Not everyone will achieve the mastery that Margret has. But by improving your ability to understand and do work across the strategy-implementation spectrum, you gain more capacity for having impact.

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