Chris Thornhill has worked in Project Management for over 20 years and spent the last 4 years solving problems around space utilisation, with a particular focus on room booking and timetabling. He presents the following insights into management strategy.
I first became interested in strategy when I was introduced to KPIs around 2011 working in a global project management office, where I found myself focussing on outcomes, and trying to understand whether we had been successful or not. I was tasked to define actionable KPIs to provide early indicators or business insights as to the predicted outcome on projects and programmes. Interestingly, I found that these same techniques could scale up and measure strategic success too, by understanding the mission and vision of the company, and the desired goals.
Test your own Strategy
Since those days I have been wondering “how do you come up with a good strategy?” and I have come up with a simple explanation in the form of a diagram which you can ponder your own organisation’s strategic intent.
A company working in the “Mystic Meg” zone is a business which probably has an autocratic leadership style of management, and even if the company strategy is shared with the employees, there is very little understanding on why or how the direction had been set. Furthermore, employees often feel that strategy is “something that leadership does” and rarely hears about whether the strategy has been successful or not.
Steve Jobs is quoted to have said “I don't employ intelligent people and then tell them what to do. I employ intelligent people to tell me what to do”. In this zone employees are encouraged, and given the opportunity, to generate improvement ideas and innovation, and hence feel that they are part of the solution and can take real pride when the outcome is successful.
The other two zones indicate an averseness to risk, whereby there is an acceptance that leading the market is too challenging.
Good vs Bad Strategy
The crucial difference between good and bad strategy, is that some will see a good strategy to be the market leader, and this can be achieved through innovation, whether that is technological or taking a novel approach to deliver services better than the competition. Bad strategy, (and one that is more than demonstrated in the move to online retail, versus the persistence of high street shops, as with Debenhams or House of Fraser's recent demise, among others) may follow the trends, and be looking at the competition to see what they are doing. In other words, they are playing catch-up, and hence never get ahead, and could in fact go out of business. Being a market leader means that whilst the competition is catching you up, you in turn, are coming up with new ideas and keeping the competition on their back foot.
Hence, Steve Jobs was right, innovation is a creative force that cannot be achieved by one person at the top. Engaging with all your workforce (sometimes with your customers too) can spark ideas which could create the next big paradigm shift. Valuing your staff this way is empowering, and drives company success, but it also provides a lot of individual satisfaction, and encourages a loyalty and pride.
In which zone would you like your company to work? Where are they now?
Perhaps the first step is to be innovative, and optimise all the resources you have in the organisation now. Whether it be the fixed estate, people, or technology, as a springboard to that innovative strategy that will keep you ahead of the competition?
EventMAP are in the business of optimising resources through leading edge software products and services. Why not see how a good strategy can be achieved by going to our website and viewing some of the case studies held there.