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Increasing the Organization's Focus on Executing Strategy


Situation

The Chief Executive Officer and the newly hired Vice President of Operations of this mid-market business services company were concerned that the Operations organization was not focused on the strategy of the company.

A services company with the value discipline of "customer intimacy", operations was the value-creation source in the company. Their operational capability was the main distinguishing factor - it drove customer service, customer retention, customer upsell, customer referrals and new customer acquisition. They could outsource sales or develop multiple sales channels, but operations was the heart of the organization.

People were working very hard on getting their jobs done but it was not adding up. Work done was mostly reactive as opposed to pro-active. Groups did not have goals for themselves and there were no goals for all of Operations as well. So where ever they ended up at the end of each quarter in terms of achievements, become their goal.


Solution Approach

The solution approach was to crystallize the company's strategy and then articulate succinctly in a graphical/diagrammatic visual to make it easy to understand. Develop goals and objectives for each of the groups that are derived from the strategy and help implement/advance the strategy.


Solution and Results

After interviewing the senior executives, the strategy was articulated in clear terms. Glossaries were developed to describe the strategic business terms so it became easy for the rank and file employees to understand them. This succinct and yet holistic view of the company goals, high-level strategies and tactics allowed middle management and employees to be able to see for the first time - how the different ideas and business directions they had heard from senior executives on various occasions fit together.

Groups developed objectives that supported the strategy and cross-calibrated with each other to ensure alignment of focus. Specific owners were assigned to each of the action items. The whole discussion on strategy and the objectives and action items helped middle management voice their concerns. Concerns either about not understanding the details of the strategy or disagreeing with the details. At the high-level agreement was easy. It was in the detailed interpretation that different views were expressed. Working through the process, it became clear to all involved that while not all the details had been worked out, this was the first time that an effective and productive exercise was ensuing and not just an endless and circular discussion.

The initiative was very successful - it helped bring the team closer in a very meaningful way. The biggest challenge of course lay ahead. Senior executives and middle management needed to stay focused and continuously follow-through on the process of executing strategy. Change had been introduced gently in the organization, however for habits to form continued repetition was critical. Also the strategy and tactics needed to be actively updated to ensure relevance to the changing business and market landscape.