Dec 20

Is Your Strategy Ready to Work Out?

Stephan Polomski
Stephan Polomski is director human resources, coach and trainer

The end of the year is near and management teams and their business units meet in order to outline next year´s and years´ planning and strategy. It is the season of performance reviews and soon of bonus calculating. It is the time to check lessons learned and if ambitions have been achieved. Annual reports sum up uncomfortable truths or embellishments as key findings and open space for the question: what´s next?

In many companies, that is revealing, strategies remain far from being executed, while work forces sink into operative knee-jerk action: today this, tomorrow that. In the daily business, strategies often do not really reach the minds and hands of the workforce. The management is using compass and map, however, written down ideas and objectives do not move the steering wheel and set the sails.

Which are the 5 Must Haves to enable business strategy and planning to work out?

1. Is a motivating strategy available?

The first thing is to deeply understand and know, what business success really means for me in my core business. This also implies, that I understand, what really is my core business and what exactly is the value, I create with the business I am offering. It also implies that I thoroughly know my customers´ needs and it implies that I know and define my market and brand positioning in order to navigate towards my objectives and outperform competitors. And certainly, market research and forecasting are essential as well in order to find out, if core business and positioning are sufficient to get a share in the market.

All of this defines what I consider is right to do in a future setting I do not know. That means, strategy is much more as logically derived planning, because I do not know what future is about.

Sounds banal – however, even big companies fail here and perish. And if you realize at this point, that your vision turns out to be an illusion, there is no point to continue.

Why? I cannot easily correct strategic mistakes. Fredmund Malik says: strategic mistakes are like cancer: when it hurts, it is too late.

“Fredmund Malik says: strategic mistakes are like cancer: when it hurts, it is too late.”

2. Is a concrete road map available?

If the strategic concept is clear, the strategic project planning comes in, milestones and timelines, resource planning with defined responsibilities and structures. It ensures a transparent follow up and through, and it ensures to some amount fast reaction against crisis.

However, as I cannot foresee future, in strategic planning I cannot rely on precise data. I cannot know precise data in strategic planning simply because I do not know the future. Economical conditions as well as social and cultural change are to complex. That is why, Malik says, above all strategic planning is about perceiving the very patterns of change.

Sounds banal – however, even executives often do not have a road map on hand which considers the patterns of change.

3. Is a core competency in change management available?

Change management is not about professional expertise, it is about a manager´s competence in leading and implementing change within the organization. Because executing a new strategy foremost always means leading change. As a filmmaker I would say it signifies the great jump from my script into the process of shooting the movie and editing it before I finally can show it on TV or in a movie theatre.

Sounds banal – however, honestly, how many people do you know who are really great and motivating change agents?

4. Is a core competency in directing the emotional reality of stakeholders available?

All strategies and planning are fine as long as people are not involved. Emotions are the key factors of any motivation. If I lose the emotional contact with my various stakeholder groups involved, I lose contact with the emotional reality of the very field on which my strategy has to grow and to blossom. Having positive emotions on my side, means to be able to overcome any kinds of obstacles. It also means that I know to pace the various stakeholders by calibrating them well and then to decide what is adapt in this very moment in this very place. It means, a part from road map and project management, that I have a clear picture of the emotional and political landscape I am acting in. It means further, that execution does not follow a recipe but my daily awareness of where the system is balancing itself.

Sounds banal again – however, losing the emotional momentum means losing command of the steering wheel.

5. Is a focus on positive learning available?

In fact, strategy building, strategy planning, change management and social skills are prerequisites not only for executives, but of all people in the organization responsible for execution and results. And it is certainly crucial, that these core competencies are spread and monitored in the entire organization. Peter Senge proposed with the Fifth Discipline his concept of a learning organization. This goes along with a matching focus on positive development and potential to improve. Blaming kills motivation.

Of course: this item is banal, too – however, look around in your company and decide which leader is really applying the methods of positive psychology and growing people by using their strengths and motivation to learn self-directed?

Food for thought and revision for the time in between the years.

Five “Must Haves” to make your business strategy work out.

Five options to put on your personal agenda what to change or to try out or continue in the upcoming year.

And five ways to be more caring in business.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 at 01:00 and is filed under Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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