Nov 152012

Upon reading the article titled As Chocolate Is To Peanut Butter, Strategy Is To Tactics, by Nacie Carson, author of The Finch Effect, two questions came to mind.

  1. How does the team leader/manager identify which of their organization’s strategic outcomes they can impact, either directly or indirectly and how much  impact can they actually have?
  2. How can companies “crowd source” within their ranks to identify tactical initiatives that implement strategy in addition to, or perhaps even instead of, large business initiatives?

The answer to both questions involves the clear communication of strategic intent. I addressed how Business Architecture is an effective tool for communicating strategy and helping operational teams identify how they may impact the implementation of strategy in my previous post. Let’s now have a look at the second question.

First a quick recap. The core of the business architecture approach is as follows

  1. Identify measurable strategic outcomes for each strategy,
  2. Create a map of the business capabilities needed to achieve these outcomes,
  3. For each mapped capability, identify at a high level, what is needed to implement the capability, including business processes, people & organization structure, information, technology,  physical infrastructure, etc.

This strategic outcome, capability and enabler mapping provides an easily traceable path from each operational team and their work, to the relevant strategic outcome(s).  Notice at this point what is being communicated is (a) strategic outcome – what we want to achieve; and (b)what capabilities and enabling resources are needed for success.

The next step is for executive to identify the strategic value assess the strength of each mapped capability. At this point an in-depth assessment is not needed. Existing high level performance measures and executive knowledge are leveraged to make value and strength assessments using  three point scales. Those capabilities with high value and greatest weakness are the ones that need to receive the most focus.

Executive leadership can now use simple diagrams depicting these strategic capability maps with value and strength  color coding to gain feedback from their staff in several ways.

Firstly, senior management can:

  1. Validate the capability strength assessments
  2. Identify what enablers need strengthening for the weaker capabilities
  3. Identify missing enablers or areas of innovation

Then, management can interact with their staff via various mediums to gain additional insight and ideas for:

  • Areas of innovation;
  • How to effectively improve those enablers that need strengthening;
  • Potential barriers to implementing improvements.

Armed with this focused feedback, leadership can more effectively determine the scope of a signficant initiative, as well as identify a series of tactical initiatives that may even replace the need for a single large initiative.

Using this one simple approach the organization realizes a number of benefits

  1. Employees understand both the strategic direction and goals of the organization and how they can contribute.
  2. Innovation and improvement ideas are focused on achieving strategic outcomes.
  3. Ideas can effectively be crowd sourced across the organization.
  4. Potential barriers to strategy implementation will surface a lot sooner and can be handled more effectively with proactive rather than reactive response.

In summary, using the business architecture approach of mapping strategic outcomes, capabilities and enablers and a subsequent quick assessment of necessary enablers provides a simple and effective means of

  1. Improving communication of strategy across the organization
  2. Increasing staff ownership of stragegic solutions

Both of these together will improve the success of your organization in implementing strategy.

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