The Holloway Angle: Making Business Strategy live

Posted on 16 Mar 2010 by The Manufacturer

In my past life as a consultant, I have been involved in a number of projects to help organisations build/update their business strategy and then develop an appropriate IT Strategy.

What I found interesting was coming back at a later date and seeing whether the business and/or the IT Strategy had actually been implemented. Surprise, surprise the answer was not completely or even hardly at all. Various studies support this view:

• A Fortune Magazine study suggested that 70% of 10 CEOs who fail do so not because of bad strategy, but because of bad execution.
• In another study of 200 companies in the Times 1000, 80% of directors said they had the right strategies but only 14% thought they were implementing them well, no doubt linked to the finding that despite 97% of directors having a ‘strategic vision’, only 33% reported achieving ‘significant strategic success’.

Why is this, when companies know their businesses, and the strategies required for success? Tim Brown in a paper in 2005 stated,” Strategy should bring clarity to an organization; it should be a signpost for showing people where you, as their leader, are taking them — and what they need to do to get there. But the tools executives traditionally use to communicate strategy — spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks — are woefully inadequate for the task. You have to be a supremely engaging storyteller if you rely only on words, and there aren’t enough of those people out there.” So we need something better than words and pictures!

The Farsight Leadership in an article identified 3 key elements to achieve the realisation of business strategies:

• Motivational leadership – Leadership is the common thread which runs through the entire process of translating strategy into results and is the key to engaging the hearts and minds of an organisation’s workforce;
• Turning strategy into action – The real need is to creatively and systematically unfold the strategy, bring it to life by creating integrated action plans across an organisation that ensure all functions and divisions are aligned behind it; and
• Performance management – To make the strategy ‘live’ everyone in the organization needs to be engaged to take action. Performance management is a key factor in getting the whole organisation aligned and mobilised to reach higher and work collaboratively together to deliver results.

I would add one extra to this list which is the business process of the organisation. Here we need to know which one’s are critical to not only the success of the organisation but also to the success of the strategy.

At the ERP Connect Conference organised by the Manufacturer, an approach to documenting and developing a strategic plan called Road mapping. This presentation will be given by Dominic Oughton, Senior Industrial Fellow, Institute for Manufacturing, Cambridge University.

It is a clear that every business requires a strategy for it to succeed, but it also has to live and be able to flex and change with changes in the marketplace. This means we need to be able to use techniques and tools to capture the information to produce the plan more quickly and then be able to share and propagate this across the organisation.

Simon is chairing the vendor open panel discussion session at erpconnect – click here to find out more.