Friday, 18 October 2013

Strategy alignment and implementation

A recent post on this blog looked at how lessons analysis can help organisations identify some of the high-impact issues affecting their performance. 

I have helped clients identify, analyse and manage thousands of lessons from a wide range of sectors.  Client confidentiality prevents the sharing of any details but, in general, the following areas come up time and again:
·         Strategy alignment and implementation
·         Scope definition/shared understanding of requirements
·         Interface management and communications
·         Contracts and incentive mechanisms
·         Supply chain management
·         Cultural friction
·         Progress reporting
·         Quality
·         Knowledge gaps
·         Discipline and leadership

Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at each of these areas, using the following questions:
·         What is the problem?
·         How does it manifest itself?
·         What is its impact?
·         What recommendations are made to address it?

These issues apply to all sorts of organisation, including companies, charities and government departments.  Where the concerns of one type of organisation are relevant, we shall use the term most appropriate at the time.  Otherwise, we shall use the word ‘business’ throughout.
Strategy alignment and implementation

What is the problem?
Organisations either lack a strategy or, where they have one, have failed to align all parts of business to follow it together.  Some departments’ activities are supporting the overall strategy whilst others have not implemented it well and are even working against it.  Often this is due to organic (as opposed to planned) growth and an inability to measure performance in all business areas.

How does it manifest itself?
Where a business seeks ambitious expansion (i.e. in market share, number of service or product lines, global presence etc.) it may over-resource the areas that enable that expansion (i.e. the ‘revenue-generators’) at the expense of those that ensure such growth is achieved safely, responsibly and in a controlled manner to ensure quality is maintained (i.e. those that ‘cost’ revenue).

Recent examples from the news might include:
·         The inability of the security firm, G4S, to fulfil its obligations during the London 2012 Olympic Games
·         The inability of many of the world’s banks to measure and manage their risk prior to and during the ‘credit crunch’

What is its impact?
Functions that provide necessary oversight, assurance and quality control find that the increased volume of work can be managed either by reducing quality or creating a backlog, thereby introducing delays. Furthermore, an overall absence of unity of effort and purpose may prevail, thereby increasing staff turnover, with associated cost increases and problems of knowledge retention.

What recommendations are made to address it?
Organisations realising that they have not implemented their strategy well or consistently throughout the business often decide to conduct a strategy review to ensure it remains valid.

Where a strategy remains valid, a business might conduct a systems analysis to understand the feedback loops in play and identify the different business areas that are effectively in competition with one another, as opposed to collaboration.
A KM assessment and strategy review can enable organisations to identify any blockages within their business and remedial actions can ensure that knowledge and data flow freely in support of the overall strategy.  For further information about these services, please visit the Knoco website.

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