Competing Through People  | October 2013 Edition
Michael Couch & Associates header
MAC 2011 Living Your Mission, Vision and Values:  Strategy Deployment for the 21st Century

I am working with an organization that is struggling to execute their strategic plan.  Effective change, follow-through and accountability were lacking.  This is not the first time I've run into this and my clients are not alone.   In a recent survey, senior executives at 197 global companies said their firms achieved only 63% of their strategy's potential. The executives agreed that strategy execution is more important than strategy development but 66% said they were worse at execution than development.its


How can an organization achieve its strategic potential, build the strategy into the DNA of the organization and effectively live the mission, vision and values?  I've come up with Six Questions that organization's can use to improve strategy execution.   Here are three of them.


What are your organizations mission-critical processes and roles?

Strategic Planning should include the hard work and research that defines value - how the organization will compete and create value in the markets in which it decides to play. These value streams can then be translated into value-delivering processes and the key roles in the processes. Understanding, creating and sustaining the capability of mission-critical processes and talent is an important component of strategy execution.



How is the strategy translated into annual, concrete goals for employees?


Research by SuccessFactors and the Workforce Intelligence Institute showed companies that closely aligned goals across their organization exhibit higher levels of financial success. In the Toyota Production System, this is called the "Catch Ball" process. Other companies refer to it as "socializing the strategy" or 'strategy realization". Almost every company has a performance appraisal process (which no one likes and which adds little value) which should be the tool used to cascade the strategy to every person in the organization. Software is making this task easier but I've seen it done effectively with just spreadsheets. It's actually more about having rich goal setting discussions and reviews than it is the form.



How does your strategy translate into competencies that are critical to achieving the strategy?


Competencies are the knowledge, skills and abilities reflected in behaviors that are related to success in the organization. Different strategies require organizations with different capabilities. To deploy a given strategy, the behaviors critical to success must be defined at every level of the company. They can also be linked directly to the Values. The Performance Management process helps people understand "what" they should do. The competencies describe "how" it should be accomplished to create greatest impact on the success of the firm.


Want to Learn More?

If you are in the area, I will be doing a presentation on this topic on September 12 for the Tri-State HR Association in Mount Laurel, NJ. 

Go here for details.


Or . . .


Find a white paper on the Resources Page on my website covering all Six Deployment Questions . . . along with lots of other free stuff.

Avoiding the Groundhog Day Syndrome:

Getting Improvement Projects to Make a Difference


I was recently contacted by a  company that had fallen into a "Groundhog Day" scenario (Great 1993 movie starring Bill Murray).  They tried over and over to solve a significant business problem that was affecting revenue growth but each new day brought the same result - nothing.    They held multiple meetings to clarify roles,  hired new people, changed leaders and restructured departments.  Nothing made a long term difference and now things had reached a crisis level.  Once I had a chance to learn more about the situation, the reasons for this Ground Hog Day Scenario were clear.
First and foremost, an improvement project must have clearly defined goals and objectives for which a small project team is held mutually accountable.  The business case needs to be outlined and supported by specific improvement targets.  The goals and objectives need to be confirmed with a top leader (or leaders) to whom the results of the project results will be delivered.  The top leader(s)/project owners must assure that the project team has the resources and accountability to be successful.  The leader(s) work with the team to confirm the "what" and "why" at the start and then must let the team figure out the "how".
Improvement projects often fail because people jump to conclusions on improvements that they "think" will work.  Leaders also sometimes have their pet peeves that are foisted on the improvement team.  Random problem solving seldom works on complex business issues.  Problem solving needs to be systematic and based in solid measurement, rigorous logic, and honest analysis.  Only that will allow the team to identify and implement the most likely, high impact improvements.
Another common failure mode in improvement projects is insufficient consultation or participation in the project by key stakeholders - those that will be impacted by the changes or will need to change their behavior for the improvements to stick.  Projects are doomed if they do not include a thorough stakeholder analysis and plan.  Its the only way to get buy-in to the change that will prevent backsliding.  The most frequently missed and most critical stakeholder: customers. 
A success improvement project requires following a solid disciplined approach.  Otherwise, companies are going to continue to star in their own version of the Ground Hog Day.
What Are You Up To?


Here is a quick summary of a few of our recent projects.


Challenge:  A North American services division of a global company had struggled to execute on past strategic plans.  The leadership team also had new members following an acquisition and was just forming as a team.
What We Did: Designed and facilitated a multi-day strategy workshop to identify and commit to initiatives needed to double revenues in two years.   We then linked a Team Development process to the strategy to help assure its success.
Challenge:  An international non-profit was experiencing a shift in its revenue streams causing tension within the business
What We Did:  Designed and facilitated a stepwise improvement project which started with clearly defining and agreeing upon the business case then will identify key success measures, analyze the go-to-market processes, identify and implement improvement opportunities and then lock in the results.
In This Edition
LIving Your Mission Vision and Values
Avoiding the Ground Hog Day Syndrome
What Are You Up To?
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