Sunday, December 8, 2013

Five Dimensions of Strategy

A Strategy is Multi-Dimensional Planning, Multi-Team Collaboration, and Multi-Tasking Action.

An effective strategy is contextual, creative and cascading, it is also multi-dimensional. A successful strategy needs good communication transmission that will create the sense of ownership. Everybody needs to be involved, at a certain point and at a certain stage of the strategy execution. Here are five dimensions of strategy.

1.    Height

A strategy is not always the oversight from 3000 feet+ above; however, it does take a bird-sight view of the businesses in order to craft a good strategy.

The ‘height’ of strategy depends on how clear the business vision is; and a good strategy identifies its contribution to accomplishing the organization's vision, helping achieve the organization's end-goal and overall mission. Therefore, work closely as a team to form a clear, concise vision for success, also have team members teach each other behaviors necessary to achieve the vision. 

The height of strategy is also related to how ambitious the Strategic Objectives are- it is important that businesses get the best out of the people. And most people get the maximum motivation when the company they work at is very ambitious with their strategy. Often trying to be the best, the most innovative company pushes people out of the comfort zone. Of course, strategy has to be clear and achievable

The higher the strategy is, the more roadblocks are on the way to achieve it. Therefore, identify and clear obstacles, structures, and/or systems, which may impede the vision, allow for risk taking, welcome failures, and share in the learning they provide and remove ambiguity of decision rights, immediately address inconsistencies.

2.    Length 

There is always a right balance of long term strategy and short term business goals, the length of strategy is situational-five-year, three-year, one-year., etc., overall speaking, a good strategy needs to well reflect business’s long-term vision, with consistent and incremental business objectives to achieve it.

A good strategy is cascading and elastic: The right length of strategy is long enough to well plan company’s future with confidence and short enough to sense the urgency to execute it. The strategy should be broken (or breakable) down into a series of tactical steps which further become nests of doable operational tasks. If people can see a direct link between the strategic goals and their everyday work, they can understand both.

Well set the strategy milestones: The big picture (long term strategy) is translated into shorter term details (action/operating plans) and then given life in terms of resource allocations and short term financial goals via the annual budget. As part of the strategic planning process itself, a detailed action plan needs to be prepared which lays out the specific steps needed to accomplish the longer term goals and objectives, establishes timelines, assigns responsibilities, looks at potential obstacles, etc. 
*Break down goals into manageable (and measurable) chunks
*Track and celebrate the early wins, as well as larger milestones
*Use wins for credibility to buy-in the holdouts 

Leverage Incentives to fit the ‘length’ of strategy journey: More often, incentive and other compensation plans are all-too-often short term based and, again, isolated from what the strategic plan is trying to accomplish. This problem will, fortunately, be somewhat mitigated if the strong linkage between strategy and operation. So internal communications strategies must incorporate the need to keep the long-term view within the short-term attention and focus of all key players and to facilitate change within the organization

3.    Breadth 

Strategic plans are often developed in isolation, in terms of who is and isn't involved in the process, what the context is (vision, mission, and values) and what the realities of the current business, market and competitive conditions are. With the new characteristics of businesses such as hyper-connectivity, hyper-digitalization, and hyper-competition, the breadth of strategy needs to go beyond silo thinking and touch the business ecosystem.

The well mixed top-down and bottom-up strategic planning can expand the breadth of strategy. The breadth of strategy is based on well accepted and acknowledged understanding of the organization’s current reality, as well as how broad knowledge the people who make strategy have. Most strategic projects need experts from different departments, preferably the best resources, and fully dedicated.

Strategy Breadth also means how to share the strategy widely cross organization. Statistically, the majority (up to 90%) of employees do not know their company’s strategy. The strategy has to be communicated and shared freely amongst all the organization, from the top executives to the lowest levels. Everybody needs to know what is the goal and, very important, how (by which means, which initiatives) it is going to be achieved. They need to know what are the top three strategic initiatives, etc. 

4.    Depth 

A good strategy is not ‘superficial’, it needs to diagnose the root causes of business issues, make a set of choices and take actions.

In-depth business understanding and a comprehensive technological solution are important to translate strategic goals into detailed business goals. Once the strategic plan has been developed, it often remains in isolation from critical business processes and direct linkages are not made to important operating plans, budgets, HR decisions, metrics, etc. Unless there is a direct linkage, resources will be misapplied, priorities will become confused and focus on the long-term goals of the strategic plan will be lost. 

From an overall portfolio perspective, there are nested relationships and close linkage between strategy and tactics
1) The strategic plan drives an organizational project portfolio mix.
2) The desired portfolio mix drives project selection criteria. This creates the linkage from strategy/vision to implementation.
3) Project performance measures (success criteria) for each project are defined in relationship to the business strategy.
4) Performance measures for project team members are linked to the project performance/success criteria.
5) This linkage creates more resource engagement as it should be clearer to people how their work impacts the organization.  

5.    Time 

The fifth dimension of strategy is the realistic time-frames for actual delivery - not just published ones, as well as the right timing to harmonize strategic execution. 
Create a sense of urgency:
*Identify and discuss crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
*Without strong motivation for achieving the goal, strategies will die on the whiteboard
*The stronger the sense of urgency, the easier it will be to gain buy-in for the strategies 

Stay Focus: It is really important to focus on a few initiatives and priorities them. Senior Executives should say no to many of the initiatives and just choose a few where they will put most of the resources (resource, people) of the company. Today companies very often say yes to all the initiatives, with the consequence lack of focus. This is then spread through the organization and people no longer know where the priorities are.

Continuously revisit strategy timely and discussions of strategic plan issues must be ongoing:  Discussions of strategic plan issues must be ongoing and not merely a once-a-year exercise. The ability to revisit and re-enforce what you have put into place at the start of the program consistently before moving on to new phases, just because you think it's implemented does not mean it will remain implemented - you may end up working on the roof, whilst your foundation is rotting away. The project delivery needs to be on value, on-time, and on the budget.

Therefore, strategy is not shelf-ware, but shareware, it’s multi-dimensional, not linear, it fully meets and adheres to the assumptions that bound and guide the organization in achieving its vision and accomplishing its mission 


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