Organizations that aren’t guided by clearly articulated strategy and objectives have a tendency to wander and fall apart. Their foundation is weak and they have inadequate structural supports. They don’t have something to use as a litmus test for making decisions.
As pointed out in last week’s weekend thought on “Anti-Strategy”, organizations and their leaders need to do something to move the ball forward. When left in a vacuum, they will do things based on what they think is right and relatively easy to do. This often morphs into organizational infighting and disjointed efforts and viewpoints: Falling apart. Teams (employees, vendors, customers, contract workers, etc.) need structure and direction in order to be successful. That structure and direction provide the ability to have healthy interactions with other teams inside the organization. By using strategy as the litmus test for planning, development and decision making, it gives teams the ability to resolve complex issues, make hard decisions and keep personal feelings and perspectives out of the decision making process. Well, most of the time… We utilize something called the “Business Hierarchy of Needs®” as a roadmap to providing organizations and teams with clear direction and purpose. It defines three levels of activity that every organization needs to go through. In the first level (Data Analysis and Planning), senior leadership has to figure out what stands between the required business strategies and the business’s current state. We call these strategic and operating gaps. Understanding these gaps allows the organization to go through the process of clearly defining tactical objectives and creating key performance indicators (KPI). The second level of activity (Knowledge and Performance Management) cascades tactical objectives to teams throughout the organization. It is also focused on dealing with the organization’s operating gaps. In this level, leadership is tasked with thinking through how teams and their employees are held accountable and rewarded for success. They are also tasked with the challenge of enhancing skill sets to deal with operating gaps and preparing for the third level of activity which is usually focused on strategic gaps. The third level (Change Management) is about properly introducing change inside the organization. Every organization changes or needs to change, some more radically than others. Those changes include but aren’t limited to new systems, continuous improvement programs, new products, structural adjustments, acquisitions, etc. Unless the organization as a whole and affected teams have been prepared to deal with level three activities, chaos will be the result. Sit back and think about the last time a major business strategy failed, or when a major initiative fizzled. Ask yourself how that failure could have been avoided. It is likely that the activity in one of the three levels of the Business Hierarchy of Needs was short changed. More importantly, think about how organizations and teams wander because of lack of direction, in essence falling apart. Typically, it is less about poor management and more about poor leadership and a lack of clearly articulated strategies and tactics.
About the author: Jim Gitney is the CEO of Group50® Consulting and specializes in the development and implementation of manufacturing and supply chain strategies. Jim and the Group50 team are all former executives with well-known manufacturing and distribution companies who understand what it takes to put together and manage the implementation of a successful strategic plan. Group50 has designed a series of strategic assessments, workshops and strategic execution tools that eliminate the existence of Anti-Strategy. You can reach us at (909) 949-9083 or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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