A great read on how to execute your strategy.
If you are looking for a book on how to develop your company’s strategy – this isn’t it. Yes, it is important for a company to spend time and effort to formulate their strategy, but the execution of the strategy is often given less thought and planning. The seven questions in this book get you thinking about execution, which is the reason you have a strategy in the first place. The questions are presented as chapters and include the following topics; Customers, Core Values, Performance Measures, Boundaries, Tension, Commitment, and Uncertainty. While all the chapters of the book are well presented, I found the two related to performance variables and core values to be the most interesting.
“Without strategic performance variables that guide all levels of management a company runs the risk of measurement simply for the sake of measurement…
Performance measures are often assumed to be appropriate for an organization, but can quickly become outdated if they are not continually analyzed for impact and adjusted to support of the company’s overall strategy. Managers may measure certain variables because that is the norm or expectation within a company, without a clear understanding of which variables are the most important and how they are linked to the company’s overall strategy and performance. The chapter presented great examples from large organizations like Citibank, Marriott, and Home Depot, but I think a basic example of this type of assumed measurement is sales management reporting. Sales managers have all sorts of variables to measure; dollars, customer interaction, pipeline growth, deal closure time, and so forth, and will often jump from activity based reporting to performance reporting without clearly understanding what measures relate to the strategy of the company. Their intentions are good (“we want better results”) but their performance measures may not compliment and support the overall strategy. Without strategic performance variables that guide all levels of management a company runs the risk of measurement simply for the sake of measurement or worse, contradictory execution. The questions related to the performance variables and how to build accountability for these can guide your thinking and help align the strategy and the measures for your company.
“The core values of a company should flow in and around the organization like the weekend sports scores, last night’s reality TV, or a major client win by the home office.
The core values of a company should flow in and around the organization like the weekend sports scores, last night’s reality TV, or a major client win by the home office. In other words, they should be openly discussed and evident in daily activities. The values should also translate directly back to the prioritization of the company, the employees, customers or shareholders. If the core values and the focus of the company are not aligned, it will be difficult to make hard decisions and gain organization-wide commitment. The book’s pharmaceutical examples are vivid on this subject and make you think about how values and priorities need to be understood.
While people normally jump to the conclusion that the priority of a company is always the customer, they are often wrong and will argue the point that their position (the customer is the priority) is the only true priority. How do I know this? I was reading the chapter on the question of core values supporting a company’s focus (shareholders, employees or customers) while I was traveling. I had several people give me their unsolicited opinions about why a company should focus on one versus the other (for example, customer rather than an employee) just by seeing the chapter title. I guess they were reading over my shoulder and couldn’t resist the chance to weigh in on the subject. You know you are reading a good book when strangers strike up conversations just based on chapter titles.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in strategy and how to resolve the strategy into execution.
Want to know how strategy execution can impact your business? Start with our Business Strategy workshop.