Saturday, October 16, 2021


Organizations have a variety of stakeholders, behind many critical business initiatives, there are numerous points-of-view and reference points of varying stakeholders.

Running a business is about taking continuous initiatives for solving problems large or small. Every business initiative is to solve a certain problem and achieve certain goals. There are strategic initiatives and tactical initiatives. There are functional initiatives and cross functional initiatives, quick win or long run focused initiatives, etc. Thus, it’s important to identify what generates the most value for the company and expressing that in strategic objectives helps managers keep their eyes on what matters. 

The real challenge is to understand the priorities of the company, and know where and how you can and should improve, so you can pre-plan and manage business initiatives in a structural way to achieve higher than expected results.

Content and context in business initiatives: Nowadays, business problems are rarely insulated. Business leaders must not fall into the role of facilitating flawed or incomplete business initiatives. Make reasonable justifications behind undertaking the initiative. It's important to understand problem context: What is the problem? What are the concerns with the current state (costs, inefficiencies, top line impacts etc)? What is the proposed state? What is the cost, time; other resources needed to get to the proposed state?

From a strategic or a change management perspective, provide the description and articulate the reason for starting an initiative. Is the proposed business initiative well aligned with the organizational vision and direction? How does the business initiative differentiates the organization from its major competitors? Are they competing for best quality, cost advantage or efficient value chain? Can their processes do what they promise? Competitors? Which business competency can be built via taking such initiatives? Have a management oversight of underlying business functions and structures, and enable all critical business processes, to improve the success rate of initiative management.

Pros & cons analysis of solutions options: After clarifying why part of the business initiatives, it’s important to articulate what and how by setting the "success criteria," enabling consideration of the range of options and which solution option is most aligned with the strategic goals of the business. Is it one solution or multiple solutions that will be required? A clearly-articulated business case helps the business management clarify: What solution options are available that will meet the business need and which option is the best option from a strategic perspective to solve a multi-set of problems? Which solutions represent the best business value in terms of achievement of the business outcomes? What are the risks and issues associated with the solution?

To enhance innovation, use an out-of-the-box method to identify unconventional solutions, define alternative solutions, evaluate the practicality and outcome going beyond economic value or shareholder value, to include other forms of value orvia people-centric lenses, and compare it to conventional solutions. For the large-scale strategic initiatives, have an advisory committee review policy, procedure, and communication within the organization to ensure solutions are designed to not only solve certain problems, but also bring up additional value and shape innovative cultures.

Costs/ financial comparison/financial summary/ROI timeline
: You can only manage what you measure. Clearly defined business case with comprehensive cost/benefit finance analysis is also critical to each of their business solution alternatives, estimate the time and cost for relevant activities that they can think of and include a consideration of the interconnections. Estimating cost scientifically provides a good reason to move things forward if it’s within the budget. The management needs to clarify Which benefits will be achieved through addressing the key business drivers? Can these business benefits be measured and quantified? What outcomes can the sponsor expect to achieve through investment in the proposed initiative.

It’s important to be as conservative as possible in identifying and monetizing benefits flows as too-ambitious benefits flows are easily countered. Look for creative, cost-effective opportunities to develop cross-functional teams for solving problems alternatively. Make a financial summary and return on investment timelines. Return on Investment tells management how well the business initiatives repay the company. It’s a ratio of the dollar amount your company gains over what it initially spent in simple terms, it’s the company’s payback. Publish a report monthly or quarterly, listing the status. For those that are approved, those that are completed, those in the process, and those yet to be started. It included the original cost estimate, an estimated completion date (if in the process), and any changes that caused the initial estimates to be adjusted, highlighting all the major changes in yellow so no one could miss them. Use hard numbers if you can, to make measurable deliveries.

Organizations have a variety of stakeholders, behind many critical business initiatives, there are numerous points-of-view and reference points of varying stakeholders. Smart shareholders know that they live in this world too and focusing only on short-term economics can lead to negative values that may outweigh finances in the long-term. So they need to strike the right balance of short term profitability and long term prosperity. The goals of managing a healthy portfolio of business initiatives is for improving employee productivity, delighting customers, optimizing costs or improving quality of business products/services/processes/solutions.


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