The previous post described how to draw up a robust strategy plan and how to put it into action. Here we will highlight a few aspects which deserve particular attention during the implementation phase.
For a strategy to take full effect, everyone in the business must be part of it. Of course, this only works if everyone is informed in the first place. Each department, each individual employee should know what the strategy means for them and how exactly their particular contribution fits into the plan. This requires clear and coherent communication across all layers.
Some ways to accomplish this are workshops, regular updates via the appropriate management channels or information panels that employees can consult at their own leisure. Not only does this ensure everyone is aware of the common goals, it also fosters cohesion and cooperation across departments.
Local optima and inter-departmental conflicts tends to be a problem for strategic planning. If every area or department has their own targets and performance metrics, these can often clash with each other, instead of working together for the benefit of the company as a whole. In addition to this, there is frequently a perceived power imbalance between departments, amplifying this friction.
For example, sales and marketing are largely dependent on the manufacturing department, as they can only sell (or promise or offer) what can actually be made. On the other hand, manufacturing generally doesn’t perceive any such dependence on sales – on the contrary, they often feel that sales tend to overcommit to customers, creating unmanageable workloads for manufacturing. This perceived lack of reciprocity leads to a hostile working relationship between these two departments – less than ideal circumstances for harmonious cooperation.
In fact, it should be obvious that all departments are in the same boat: the organization’s long-term health is in everyone’s interest, as it guarantees employment security. All that needs to be done, then, is to make these common goals clear and visible for everyone, eliminating these internal conflicts in the process. To do this, we have tools such as the conflict cloud, which helps identify and remove core conflicts, and to find a win-win solution everyone can subscribe to.
Inadequate performance metrics
Organizational structures often reward behaviors that go against the long-term aims of the business. An example of this can be found in project environments, where resources are generally measured by their ability to keep deadlines, which in turn are based on their own estimates. As a result, employees will of course make sure to give estimates they are sure to meet, leading to longer project durations than necessary already at the planning stage.
Resolving this requires a radical paradigm shift. All reward metrics and monitoring mechanisms must be aligned with the business’s long-term targets. This doesn’t mean there cannot be local performance metrics, but care must be taken that they are not at odds with the business-wide targets and thus prevent progress.
Control and flexibility
Once adequate processes have been put in place, they must of course be followed. Rigorous control and feedback mechanisms are needed. If you have established measurable goals, it will be easy to monitor and communicate these using the appropriate software. Make the most of this by providing daily progress updates to the whole company, letting employees know exactly where they stand at all times. This also allows the business to react quickly and flexibly in case of unexpected surprises.
Additionally, analysis and market research must remain an ongoing process. Circumstances change, the marketplace and the organization itself constantly evolve: a continuous feedback loop is an integral part of any good strategy plan. A business must be sufficiently agile to adapt its strategies where necessary if it wants to remain competitive.
One thing’s for sure: even the most successful business can never rest on its laurels. It must continually develop and improve itself if it wants to remain relevant in today’s marketplace.
Source: Marjorie J. Cooper, “Traditional Strategy Models and Theory of Constraints” in Cox III, James F., und Schleier Jr., John G., Hgg. Theory of Constraints Handbook. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2010. p. 501-514