Strategy is designed at the top. It trickles down. Top leaders appoint floor leaders. Tasks get assigned. Managers keep an eye.
This is how virtually every large organization formulate and implement strategies. The model is further reinforced in all sub-functions of the business – HR, Finance, Risk Management, and others.
This echoes the system of business ‘as is’. Successful management in the changing times goes beyond using your head, being smart and coming up with a brilliant plan. It is about putting into effect an ‘efficient’ strategy that not only is brilliant and smart but one that also ‘works’.
A lot of companies are augmenting their hiring of MBA and strategic management professionals, to find professionals who can drive change and instrumentalize the strategies down to every business function and operation.
Strategic management – Double-edged sword
Strategies fail, often due to top-down approach to management. Having said that, strategies, which aren’t supported by the top management also fail to see the light of the day.
To lead any real results, much less transformation of the structural (process, facilitates, technology, addition of new skills, etc.) and other elements, business strategists must bear in mind some basic principles of strategic business management.
Strategic management is about incorporating planning into management, not only at top level, but to the bottommost layer.
The role of strategic management experts is to:
- Carefully observe and assess the impacts of decisions on every business function;
- Identify trigger points in the flow of an action plan (from planning to implementation);
- Keep pulse of all stakeholders – consumers’ opinions, employees’ contribution, what’s in it for each of them, Industry’s Best Practices.
They essentially evaluate business goals, vision, and objectives; understand the mechanics of the working of an organization, and design future plans for successful strategy implementation (in all business functions).
Implications for CEOs and Business Strategists: 3 Secrets
Leading a successful transformation is not easy. It has to be customized for every company, every situation, and every proposed strategy. You can’t expect to replicate with exactness the strategy of P&G in a mid-sized consumer goods company.
Getting these three groups onboard can help strategy management professionals realize transformation in the company.
- CEO Onboard
If you have a big initiative planned that impacts the company as a whole, and the top leader hasn’t given her assent yet, the project is bound to run into headwinds. In all businesses, there would naturally be a competition for the limited resources – that often oscillate between new ventures and pre-existing frontiers.
Any major initiative must have a strong support of the CEO and other pivotal C-suite. Business strategists, from their industry experience, can skillfully navigate cultural and political challenges that may potentially kill a new plan and strike a bargain between costs and benefits.
- People Onboard
Strategies that fail to take into account feelings and thinking of people at the core of the proposed transformation slow down and run the risk of dying. People affected by the transformation must be involved in the implementation (as well as planning) process and encouraged to discover problems.
Strategists can play a huge role in this. Since teams may not have an honest conversation with the management thinking they may be latter criticized for being harsh on the leadership. Strategists can be the buffer.
- Powerbrokers Onboard
What now that you have the top leaders as well as the executing team onboard? Getting influencers in the organization in line with your plans is also vital for successful transformational strategy. It is a crude fact, but without input from its influential employees, a strategy may lose its biggest saviors (lest it runs into the problem). However, the process of gaining their support doesn’t mean going haywire from the goal. They need to be first given a crystal view of where the management is planning to head.
Getting bellwethers onboard requires strategists to advocate (the goals of the proposed strategy), inquire (their view), and then repeat the process (as necessary) till they are convinced.
Capitalizing on change is more than about concocting a plan. It is as much about covering your basis and preparing the ground for change, directed by strategic management.