The ACE Conditions For Success™

The ACE concept of ‘Ability + Clarity + Environment’ summarizes the scope of work to be undertaken in building a truly ‘excellent’ organization: people with the requisite ability need to have clarity and a supportive environment in which to work.  The combination of these ACE conditions results in your business performing at its optimal level, your organisational culture, and your reputation.

Ability — Every person’s ability has three elements: skill and knowledge which may be learned, behaviour and attitude which may be nurtured and developed, and the intellectual firepower to face the level of work complexity faced, which matures and increases with ‘stretch’.
Clarity — To work effectively and to achieve objectives, people need ‘clarity’.  Clarity means having a common interpretation and an effective understanding of: ‘higher intent’, desired effects and purpose, in order to align thinking, structure, systems, tasks, priorities, business unit/departmental plans, individuals' roles and role relationships, co-ordination and so on.
Environment — This includes ‘shared identity’ and sense of belonging, leaders’ behaviour and the example that secures emotional engagement, organization structure, effective and efficient business processes and systems, levels of trust and confidence between people, products and services that employees believe in, workplace layout, allocated resources and so on.

The ‘ACE Conditions for Success’ concept applies to leaders at all levels, although many of the ‘environmental conditions’ are shaped at senior and executive levels.  This concept is both a diagnostic tool, and a fundamental leadership job description.  The presence of these ACE conditions is evidence of leadership and a reflection of that leader’s own leadership ability.

Research and all our experience show that the two most important factors in the effective execution of strategy are:

  • “Creating Clarity” —the meaningful understanding of context, intentions and plans, and the systemic and dynamic alignment of priorities, systems, structure and adaptation of plans, to ‘higher intent’, actual progress and changed context.
  • Building “Emotional Engagement” —the willing accountability, commitment and discretionary effort to ‘think, act, follow up and follow through’; built largely through the way in which leaders create clarity (the social process used).

Organization & Leadership Effectiveness Assessment:  ACE Insights™

Question: Measuring Organizational Performance Potential. Nice Idea. Why Bother?
Answer: Risk and Value.

  • The 'ecosystem' risk of leadership —Enron, Barings, RBS, Lloyds and more recent examples
  • The shareholder value of leadership —investor, analyst and customer/consumer perception
  • The corporate investment value of collective leadership —acquisition, development, retention, mergers, acquisitions and strategy execution

Question: But it’s too hard. How do you do it?
Answer: For a long time, scientists tried to measure the presence of quarks. Then they realised that that was simply too difficult, so they looked for evidence of the existence of quarks and satisfied themselves with measuring that. 

We take a similar approach.  It is the responsibility of leaders to create the ACE Conditions in which their people may be successful in achieving organizational objectives.   While leadership cannot be ‘measured’ per se, the presence of the ACE conditions is evidence of leadership; so this powerful mechanism is also a measure of organizational leadership capability.

We have broken down the ACE elements into smaller component parts to enable detailed understanding and assessment of internal ACE conditions.

Your perception of these conditions will probably not be the same as those of the people above or below you or outside the organization.  If there is a perception gap, and since perception is reality, you as a leader have a problem to solve – if only one of perception. This model enables us to audit your ‘ACE conditions’ and compare different levels, locations, business units and functions in order to define both your organization and leadership development needs, and to prioritise action and to track development. It also enables understanding of how your leadership structure facilitates the achievement of objectives; or not!

For large scale use and detailed examination of data (by level, location, function, business  unit) we recommend the web-based online (or optically scanned paper) version.‚Ä®For smaller teams and regular (monthly?) development progress reviews, we suggest the spreadsheet or word document version is an highly adaptable and useful tool in the leader’s toolkit. 

ACE Insights ™ may be tailored to your language and needs and ask questions about other issues, thus replacing or combining multiple surveys.  Once set up, this mechanism may be repeated at intervals to track progress over time; a top team ACE audit workshop is also a vehicle for development of the C-Suite itself.

Contact Us

To discuss your organization’s leadership of strategy execution, please contact Jeremy Tozer:

Telephone: +44 (0)208 1446 929
Email: jeremy.tozer @
© Tozer Consulting Limited 2012
Strategy - Mission - Leadership - Execution - Change