Succeeding in today’s competitive business environment requires that your organisation be agile enough to respond quickly to internal and external change. To stay ahead, you have to explore new ways to grow your business – for example, by launching a new product or service or targeting a different marketplace. Speed and focus could become your biggest competitive advantages.
For this to succeed, you will need to rapidly align resources and people so as to drive speed, efficiency, and profitability. But how do you achieve this level of organisational agility – and ensure focused execution across your business?
The key is driving organisational alignment – an elusive goal for many companies. This requires strong executive alignment, an organisational mind-set that values performance management, and the ability to perform effectively. Once these elements are in place, you need baseline information to devise the right strategies, a clear understanding of interdependencies, and insight into where to deploy personnel and budgets. To drive adoption, you must communicate strategies to employees in ways that they understand and embrace and that are within the context of their roles. You must provide the right tools and incentives to help them execute on a daily basis and in alignment with corporate strategies.
However, if your organisation is like most, there is a significant gap between strategy and execution because of breakdowns in one or more of these areas.
You need to consider how to implement:
PACE in your organisation: Planning, Alignment, Communication and Execution
This first post, in a 4 part series, will focus on:
Why is planning so important and why must it be done in parallel with strategy? From a macro perspective, business today gets done in a global marketplace. Change is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Time and distance continue to become less and less relevant thanks in great part to the explosive growth and convergence of technology and the internet.
There was a time when strategic planning was done by only the biggest companies, and those who lead change. Now it is a requirement just to survive. Leaders of business must be looking ahead, anticipating change, and developing a strategy to proactively and successfully navigate through the turbulence created by change.
a) Clarity of Strategic Goals and Markets
How are you going to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going? Everyone in an organisation needs to know what you sell or do, who your target customers are, how you compete and in which markets you operate. A good strategy will balance revenue and margin generation with productivity initiatives. Without strategic planning, businesses simply drift, and are always reacting to the pressure of the day. Companies that don’t plan have exponentially higher rates of failure than those that plan and implement well.
For many business owners and leaders, creating a vision, company values, and a strategic plan can be a daunting task for reasons like time, energy, commitment and lack of experience. It requires business leaders to accept that yesterday’s success does not ensure success in the future. It requires challenging the status quo, potentially changing behaviours, implementing new procedures, hiring different people, and putting new systems in place in order to deliver on the strategy.
Make no mistake; the best plans and ideas without great execution are just plans or ideas, they don’t result in much of anything. Regardless of the size of a company, a strategic plan is the foundation on which all business activities can be connected and “aligned”.
b) OMG! – One Magnificent Goal!
The idea for One Magnificent Goal is derived from the fantastic book by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras; Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies – They termed it ‘BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal’
OMG is THE goal that really stretches you to think differently about how you do business. It’s THE goal that is going to help you transform your business, rather than being satisfied with incremental change. It’s THE goal that’s going to inspire you to do your best work and outshine your competition.
What is THE ONE BIG aspirational idea that your people can really get behind; that will really make them deliver +1%?
- It could be Target Driven – JFK’s – ‘this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”
- It could be Competitor Driven – Crush Adidas! (Nike, 1960s)
- It could be Role-model Driven – Audi’s OMG in 2005: To match the exclusive image of mighty Benz and BMW
- It could be a Business Transformation – Amazon.com: Every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds
When you consider OMGs for your organisation here are some key points to keep in mind:
- It should be so clear and compelling that it requires little or no explanation
- It should fall well outside your comfort zone
- It should be so bold and exciting in its own right that it will stimulate progress even if the leaders disappear
- It should be consistent with the company’s core ideology
If your OMG doesn’t meet these criteria you should really think again!
c) The Plan Itself
If you are serious about reaching your OMG, you have to develop a plan that clearly takes you through milestones or even better, ‘Inch Pebbles’ to meet that OMG. If you don’t, you can’t even expect to get close. You have to do more than you have ever done. You also have to look for new and creative ways, to get to the result.
I’m not, in this post, going to be prescriptive about how you build a plan, but I would ask you to consider the following questions:
How do I bridge the gap? – How can you most effectively get from where you are now to where you want to go? And in what time-frame? What strategic initiatives are needed to bridge the gap?
What are the controls I need to put in place? What monitoring, project management, reporting, and performance management do I need to put in place to achieve these initiatives?
What people do I need to ensure I reach my OMG? Will the team you have today be enough to deliver your OMG? Do you need more people or different people? Do you need to change the people (training & development) or change the people (restructure & recruit)?
Can I afford to do this? What costs will be incurred in delivering the initiatives that will help you reach your OMG? Over what time frame? What would be the cost of not doing them? What contingencies do you need to put in place along the way if some of your initiatives fail?
Answering these questions will help you formulate your plan.
So, you understand the market place and your strategic ambition within it, your OMG. You have a plan to achieve it. Have you got the right people, organisational structure and culture to deliver it? In Part 2 of The Need for Speed – Driving Pace in Your Organisation, I will be look at the second element of PACE, Alignment.