As per last week’s series on “What is Strategy? And How is It Obtained?” (parts I, II, III, and IV) and the last two posts on The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution and Successful Strategy Execution is More Than Lean or Six Sigma, successful strategy development and execution is within the reach of every organization, and there are a number of toolsets that can be brought to bear to streamline development and execution once the basics are understood. However, the real key to avoiding false starts and getting it right the first time is to bring in an external sensei (which, literally translated, means “one who has gone before”) to guide the organization through the process.
Let’s face it, while it is easy in theory to come up with a vision, conduct a gap analysis, create an execution plan, streamline the plan with best practices, acquire the necessary tools and resources, and define the decision rights, information flows, and organization chart that will pull it all together, it can be very challenging in practice — especially if the organization has never done this before. Without a guide, the organization might not even be able to define an appropriate vision. Let’s face it “we will be the most progressive company in our vertical, by providing high quality, customized services to our customers, achieving a measurable difference of success for our suppliers, rewarding the excellence of our employees, and ensuring the long term prosperity of our shareholders“* is not a vision. It is a meaningless collection of buzzwords that’s on par with the drivel created by the Auto Joe-ks Mission Statement Generator that will only result in employees having a good joke at management’s expense as they say “Yeah, right! Who do the nincompoops think they are trying to fool? This is as likely as a monkey flying out of my butt!” After all, it doesn’t pass any of the sniff tests (outlined in part IV). It doesn’t specify what the organization is going to do, where it is going to do it, or why this will help the organization succeed.
Furthermore, it will be hard to conduct a gap analysis if the organization does not know how to define a successful representation of an organizational structure that is aligned to the strategy. Without an expert who knows what an appropriate structure looks like, and how to define the gaps between the current structure and the desired structure, the effort could grind to a halt. Then there is the issue of streamlining the structure, process, and execution plan. This will require someone who understands the core tenets of Lean, Six Sigma, or the foundational Toyota Production System, as well as Business Process Modelling. And the organization will be challenged to select the right tools and resources if the organization doesn’t fundamentally understand what the tools and resources have to do in order to enable the new organizational structure that is required. Plus, the entire effort can break down entirely when it comes to deciding decision rights when mangers mired in traditional mindsets will fight for rights they should never have had and should never, ever, want! And, assuming the organization is able to appropriately divide the decision rights, it might still be stumped on how to define, and enable, the information flows.
That’s why the ultimate key to getting it right the first time is to bring in an experienced guide to lead, moderate, and run the process. An experienced, analytical, and impartial guide will help the organization:
- focus on constructing a buzzword-free vision that defines the what, where, and why in a manner the employees can truly and whole-heartedly get behind;
- define a high-level end-state that specifies the who, what, and when;
- conduct a meaningful gap analysis;
- develop a process-oriented action plan that will get the organization from its current state to its desired state;
- select the appropriate methodologies to streamline the processes;
- identify the right tools and resources to meet the streamlined process needs;
- categorize the relevant strategic and tactical decisions that will need to be made and assign them to the appropriate personnel (who are affected the most by them and who can generate the most effects from them);
- streamline the required information flows;
- create the appropriate organizational chart; and
- identify the incentives that will have the most impact.
Furthermore, considering that, relatively speaking, consultants are cheap, there’s no reason for an organization not to hire a guide. It just make sense. Why stumble up the mountain when a guide can lead an organizational climber safely to the top?
*So, needless to say, the “leading” Canadian Broadcasting company that decided that it’s vision was to be the most progressive broadcasting company in Canada, by providing high quality, local service to our listeners, achieving a measurable difference for our advertisers, rewarding the excellence of our employees and ensuring long term prosperity of our shareholders wasn’t on the right track … or anywhere close to it!