Saturday, August 29, 2015

How do you Set the Right Priority in Strategy Management

The challenge is to prioritize what you know about and keep an eye open for signs of things you don't know about.

Due to the overwhelming information and increasing speed of changes, one of the biggest challenges for leaders and managers is how to set the right priority for strategy management. Many times, managers focus more on the symptom, not the root cause of the problems; or by management we usually imply a hierarchical arrangement, and most of the mid-level management only follow the command - “do whatever will make them look the best to their immediate supervisor." The result is forcing employees to do stupid things with only the most immediate "apparent" benefit to their supervisor. Now, there is a big digital shift to self-organizing systems under certain guideline, this shift is both generational and phenomenal, from a management perspective, how shall you set the right priority for managing strategy effectively during the journey of digital transformation?

The challenge is to prioritize what you know about and keep an eye open for signs of things you don't know about. Business leaders often revert to "just get the job done!" without stopping to clarify what, exactly is the job that is supposed to be done. It is the equivalent of putting a highly creative person on a production line - you will get exactly what you paid for, a re-created production line process! The whole theory of strategy is about being strongest at the decisive point. In other words, knowing what really matters and then putting real horsepower behind these things. The reality is that there are a lot of things that can go wrong and it is not always easy to identify what is important. The strategy is important, and it can be difficult to find the right allocation of resources to strategic thinking and implementation of the plan while simultaneously monitoring feedback, managing risks, and meeting obligations to staff and customers. Certainly, any corporate system or success need the strong endorsement, support, and implementation of the top-down to the layers of warrior management. Management Systems need to be holistic and comprehensive, also complicated and artistic, it is a strategic level approach to the entire problem in a systematic way.

It takes a strong leadership team to support clear strategy and visions. Managers need to have admirable core strengths and highly effective people skills to lead, influence and empower others. It is not only about how much they know, but it is also about what they can and do that really matters. One difficulty that should be considered is when different managers have different views on direction and strategy. Some are based on theories, others on market analysis inputs, others on instincts. That makes it difficult for making clear directions. Managers are people -- Human beings. They like to be distracted by frills and personal interest first. The onus then should fall to next level of chain up to make a decision, or instead procrastinate on it leaving unclear strategies for the rest of the organization. Since strategy making is not a guaranteed thing, some executives or senior managers could be unwilling to be potentially wrong and discount a possible strategy approach even how small an opportunity. Weakness and Strengths are both very evident by what managers’ do, not what they say but what they actually do, consistently. Peter Drucker says there are only two things that are the job of management: Innovation and Marketing/Sales. These are both culture and process driven. Many managers are simply not credible so even some really good ideas may be wasted on skeptical employees who will unwittingly sabotage the execution due to lack of respect for their leader.

The ability to change relies on the desire to change. The desire to change relies on having enough self-esteem to accept that one's sense of value is not derived from always being right. Personal managerial success is frequently judged by how 'arguably' right that manager is compared with employees (contributing value and justifying the status). It is not judged by results, as the results of alternative outcomes don't eventuate – so they can't be used for comparison. How many people do you know, who have this level of self-esteem and openness? They are the great managers and a rare breed. Perhaps even entrepreneurial. One option to improve leadership effectiveness is to lead through coaching and questioning. Great leaders or managers ask effective questions that raise awareness around what is important to be done and then ask individuals or teams to take responsibility and to take appropriate action. Managers can also self-coach and ask themselves every day is “What I'm doing going to deliver the agreed plan/strategy?” Have we given the new managers the mentorship & reward to support strategic decision-making? Most companies are comfortable with yes-people rather than the disruptive types.

Every company needs a good strategic planning process and a management cycle to benchmark that plans to monthly operations, even weekly when done well. It’s important to build effective business system that creates a high-performance culture and company when used with proper disciplines:
A. Strategic Planning Process.
B. Management Best Practices for Performance, Accountability, and Merit.
C. Dashboard and metrics - You have to measure the right things right.
D. Strategic Budgeting process - Opportunity and innovation driven budgeting.
E. Process Management to capture and refine institutional knowledge.
F. Human Capital Acquisition and Development for culture control, improvement, and finding developing and keeping the best people.

A strategy is a shareware, not a shelfware. Peter Drucker says there are only two things that are the job of management: Innovation and Marketing/Sales. These are both culture and process driven. Often the top managers haven’t done enough to set the right priority and communicate strategies thoroughly with employees. So, it's no wonder they spend their time on what they perceive as higher pay-off activity, specifically the ideas and work that interest them. For that to change, managers must be in the room building the strategy through collaboration and consensus building, they should facilitate ideation session that uncovers the big and innovative ideas that disrupt complacent and conventional thinking. Senior management or the board gets the final say, but if done right, that should not be an impediment to crafting and executing an inspiring strategy. The logical steps include:
-Clearly define and communicate what specifically they are to focus upon. What the specific measures of performance expectations are - quantifiable and qualitative. Measure and review frequently.
-Secondly, share the "what's in it for me" WIIFM in terms of rewards that are meaningful and tied directly to achieving and exceeding specific performance metrics.
-Lastly, praise and reward frequently and in a timely manner to provide positive reinforcement of advanced or creative minds, desired behaviors, and actions.
To lead and manage in today's digital dynamic requires a different skillset than solely performing a task. Therefore, setting the right priority and delegation is very important to improve management effectiveness and ensure first doing right things, and then doing things right.  


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