Wednesday, April 13, 2016

“CIO Master” Tuning V: “5W + 1H” Strategy Navigation

A strategy is a combination of an origin, a destination, and a route to get from origin to destination.

The strategy is the pillar of organizational existence, its vision, mission, design, structure, and functions. A real strategy is neither a document nor a forecast, but rather an overall approach based on a diagnosis of a challenge. Being “strategic” is being centered around “Why” and “What,” and being backed by a roadmap and a plan of action that are informed with “Who,” “Where,” and “When.” The “tactics” is being more centered on the “HOW,” the individual steps and mechanics involved in the execution. More specifically, what is the “5W+1H” strategy navigation all about?

Why: Why is strategy crucial to the business’s long-term success? A view of strategy is that it is a way of accomplishing a vision and mission in a given set of circumstances. The circumstances, which are complicated, complex and inherently uncertain all at the same time, are in the present moment, but some aspects have strong implications for future circumstances. The strategy is also a coherent plan to achieve specific goals through a series of mutually supportive and integrated actions. If this definition were adhered to, then, of course, a strategy would be systematic. All strategies fall under and are subject to systemic constraints in which they exist. As to being effective, it would depend entirely on the scale and desired outcomes within their respective system. There are three essential elements of a good strategy: (1) a diagnosis of the situation, (2) The choice of an overall guiding policy; (3) The design of coherent action. The big “WHY” of strategy is to define an overarching way to differentiate your plan of uniqueness against your opponents to increase your ability to achieve your goals.

What: 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 an executable strategy with effective business system - The “WHAT” part of strategy with proper disciplines:
A. Strategic Planning Process - Some, especially chaotic situations require an "act, sense, respond" approach, and so the strategy is to act and find out what happens.
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. Talent Management - Human Capital Acquisition and Development for culture control, improvement, and finding, developing and keeping the best people.

Who: PEOPLE are always one of the weakest links in strategy execution. The business strategy execution gaps exist at the people’s mindsets, the organizational culture. The big “WHO” of strategy directly impact on the effectiveness of strategy management. Hence, it’s crucial to build the right team and empowering them to implement the strategy. How many employees involved in the Strategic Planning process really feel full ownership? Probably not as many as top management would believe. Organizations are usually wrong in believing that engaging the management team is enough to build the right team. Managers may or may not be fully respected and followed by team members, but there will be people in the teams who are known for high performance, right attitude of helping co-workers and who are highly regarded and followed by other team members. A strategy implementation team should be built with such people because these are the people who can drive changes efficiently, break the resistance of people and encourage them to accept new changes. So top management needs to ask the hard questions and see things as they really are. Because the big WHO - people are always the weakest link in any strategy execution.

Where: Strategy management is one of the most important business activities in organizations today. It is a cohesive entity of programs, projects, and policies that concentrate and fuse corporate resources to enable an organization to establish, sustain, and enhance its competitiveness and capabilities for self-renewal. One of the important statements in strategy is “WHERE should you improve,” so you can succeed WHERE you choose to improve. The plan also has to be dynamic so that it can deal with changed conditions and unforeseen circumstances. The big “WHERE” also refers to the processes to implement the strategy. The processes are the tool to get the result you formulate in the strategy. Many times you don't consider the processes as the main driver to deliver the desired result, and then you will not get the result you hoped for. It is advisable for any organization to adapt step by step process to manage strategy and build internal capability with it. The process, however, needs periodical reviews to test if the process is understood by all and that produces expected outcomes. Methodologically, a more adaptive strategy-development process places a premium on effective communications from all the executives participating. Also, convert these initiatives into an operating reality by formally integrating the strategic-management process with financial planning processes, governance processes or other key business processes, and create a rigorous, ongoing management process for formulating the specific strategic initiatives.

When: With increasing speed of changes, timing is crucial in strategy execution. Sometimes strategic objectives seem to be achievable and as you move toward accomplishment in time, the constant assessment indicates your progress is too slow. This is potentially right because you have not resourced, set the conditions or positioned yourself for success, this could also be because the market conditions of change or you were unable to account for some variables that had a tremendous impact from the beginning. A very important question is to determine WHEN these objective need to be completed. Key phrases to assist in this could include “no later than” or “by” or “no earlier than.” This assists an organization in assessing their progress and making improvements based on the changing environment. In short, a robust Strategy Management needs to embed “Time Management” mechanism to ensure on time deliveries and solid strategy execution with well-defined timelines.

How: Strategy management is about creating tomorrow's organization out of today. Therefore, it is critical to identify and strengthen the weakest link and determines HOW each part of the organization, including all of the key functions must "put it all together," to be successful in implementing strategy and bring tangible business results. The more focus needs to be on what is realistic and HOW the expectations of the business and its employees can grow. Executing strategies with “Know-HOW” should be a doddle if the actual planning is spot on, listen to your employees, listen to the market , listen to the competition, be realistic, believe in the plan , more to the point is to make sure everybody else believes on the plan too, and last but not least, be innovative.

A strategy is a combination of an origin, a destination, and a route to get from origin to destination. Through a comprehensive “5W+1H” navigation, you could discover the route based on the right means and capabilities, the right people and the right timing. It shouldn’t always take the shortcut with linear steps, but pick the premium path to renewal a strategy-execution continuum.


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