ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: So Whats Your Strategy
Just as you would develop a vision to support a mission, so too, it is necessary to generate a strategy for accomplishing the mission and the implementation of a vision. Strategy is the unique formula or nucleus around which plans can be formed which leads to organizational success. Developing strategy is not that complicated yet it is an underused activity in many organizations. Figuring out strategy can be as basic as where is the organization today? Where does it want to be in the future? Where is our competition today? What is our cost position to beat them in the future? Strategy simply defines the logic and tactics that ensure the mission and vision will be achieved.
Quite often when the subject of “strategy” is discussed, it is assumed that we are talking about decisions and plans that will be made out there, somewhere in the future. The challenge for many individuals and organizations is to understand that you have to make decisions in the present that will help you shape your future. We need to fully come to the understanding that the best possible choices you can make today will in fact determine much of how your future will play out. Your strategic choices today are not about future decisions, but about the future impact of the decisions you or your organization make today and plan to make tomorrow. Simply stated, what must I do today and tomorrow that will help me arrive at my desired future?
Because of the rate of change organizations face today, the older notion of a five-year strategic plan has changed. Agile, fast moving, and “evolving strategies” that ensure the success of the core business have become the norm in high-performance organizations. Evolving strategies that are continually calibrated against results, provide the clarity required in organizations, and help set more relevant direction for all to follow. Without a clearly defined and closely followed evolving strategy, organizations of all types tend to lose sight of their direction. Energy is wasted on doing things that are non-value added.
An organization without a strategy is like a ship without a rudder – it moves, but without direction. If you are in a for-profit business you should constantly be asking and answering the questions; how do I make money today? How will I make money tomorrow? What are my strategies today? What will be my strategies tomorrow? If you are a member of a non-profit and government organization you should be focusing on what are my strategies for providing services today? What will be my strategies for providing services tomorrow? What is my strategy if revenues decline? How can our organization serve the greatest good with the right amount of expenditures? All organizations should be making sure that whatever strategies they use… they are clearly understood by all stakeholders.
Under the umbrella of an overall “business” strategy, many other supporting strategies can reside. Several examples of supporting strategies are: sales, marketing, innovation, technology, service, global, quality, acquisition, partnership, human resource, learning and growth, succession planning, retention, and leadership development.
As we move into the 21st Century, intellectual capital, information capital, and human capital will require strategic thinking and planning as never before. These areas will determine the success of many if not most organizations as we move from the “information age” to the “knowledge age.” Alignment of these areas must be put in place and used to fulfill organizational objectives. For the greatest organizational success, intellectual, information, and human talent capital should be directly linked with the traditional measures of strategic success, such as revenues, gross margins, profitability, return on investment and market share. As an organization you should be asking the question are we putting in place strategies that are aligned at all levels throughout the organization.
Quite honestly, through the writing of this newsletter I am marketing the need for using internal and external leadership development coaching, and taking advantage of what I believe to be an innovative leading-edge approach to developing a results-driven integrated leadership development process. I am in essence applying two basic strategies of growing a business – marketing and innovation. I am also focusing on the strategy of developing an organizations greatest combined asset – it’s human and intellectual capital. As you read this section on strategy, think about how your organization can best integrate a leadership development strategy into your over-all business strategy. Think through how a leadership development coach can add value in the context of helping achieve individual, business and organizational results.
Solid leadership combined with intellectual capital and great human talent allows a key strategy to emerge – innovation. Quoting Peter Drucker, “Business has only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results. All the rest are costs.” Innovation is “the” basis of all competitive advantage and the means by which the organization anticipates and satisfies the customer’s needs.
Innovation is the way the organization uses knowledge and technologies to create wealth, beat the competition, and pursue growth. To quote Jack Welch, “Growth is what it’s all about. Growth is the great elixir…both personally and in business.” At all times an organization should be in the process of transforming itself through an innovative and evolving strategy, so it can more effectively position itself to occupy a new strategic space in its industry. Without enlightened leadership organizations rarely stay innovative and achieve growth.
A final step with regard to strategy is implementation. When a new or radically different strategy is formulated, it most likely will involve structural changes to the organization along with policy and procedural changes. Change always will call upon leaders to handle the tangible as well as the intangible variables, including the motivation and commitment of people, possible restatement of values, the modeling and monitoring of behaviors, and the establishing and networking of relationships.
When a serious attempt is made to transform any organization, the return on investment in the building and linking of strategies to accomplish the mission and vision of the organization will be substantial. Strategic thinking and planning will allow the organization to both sustain itself and grow. Strategy is where the rubber meets the road. Great strategies begin with solid leadership!
Some of the benefits of strategic thinking and planning are:
• Provides a game plan to address relevant issues and keep focused
• Focuses the future direction of the organization
• Allows for faster decision making
• Helps allocate resources more effectively
• Improves the organizations competitive position
• Can make the organization financially stronger
Initial Strategy Assessment
• Do you and your organizations leadership team truly understand your business strategy and how it relates to your industry?
• Do you and your organizations leadership team truly know your market niche and its market potential so effective growth strategies can be put in place?
• Does your mission statement “clearly” describe the purpose of your organization?
• Have you developed a “compelling vision” which pictures your desired future?
• Have you put in place the strategies that will ensure both the mission and vision can be achieved?
• Do you know your organizations strategic strengths?
• Do you know your organizations weaknesses?
• Have you set measurable, specific and time bound tactics and objectives to help ensure the organizations strategies can be attained?
• In addition to your primary strategies, have you determined alternative plans and selected the appropriate alternative strategies?
• Have you translated these strategies into action plans?
• Do you and organizational members know what major strategic achievement/s your organization will cite as a significant accomplishment in its annual report?
• Are organizational strategies clearly communicated to all members of the organization so all stakeholders can align their work activities accordingly?
On a personal note: Have you developed strategies that will get you to a better tomorrow? Do you have a strategy in place that will improve your employment potential or other personal success objectives within six months to a year? Is that strategy or those strategies written down and have you documented specific steps to make your personal strategy/s a reality? If not, begin to think and act strategic and your life will become both interesting and more productive.
You MAY reprint the information contained in this article as long as no portion of the contents are modified and it used “exclusively” within your organization and credit is given to Ingbretsen Consulting. Please contact for republication.
About Ingbretsen Consulting LLC:
Coach and author Roger Ingbretsen is a certified executive coach and organizational developer, providing organizational and career guidance to professionals, managers, supervisors and all individuals looking for "real world" career development and business information. His entrepreneurial approach will help you learn how to plan, lead and succeed in your career. Roger is the creator of the “Leadership Development Coaching Experience©” and author of the personal development reference eBooks, “Plan Your Career Now: The Survival Guide for the American Workplace” and “Master Your Career: Proven Strategies for Career Success©.” To know more and claim dozens of Rogers free articles go to www.ingbretsen.com or call 509 999 7008.