From Strategy to Action
Every business today needs a dynamic strategy and business plain with a built-in performance management system to allow successful execution.
The essence of business is to be clear on they why, who, what and where you are in relation to your customers in your environment, to be clear on what you want to achieve, to develop the most appropriate strategy, processes, technology and plans and then to execute these plans through effective leadership and management, best utilising available human, structural and relationship capital.
Herewith is a simple business model illustrated. (Figure 1)
Any business needs a strategy and business plan. Why? Because strategy answers two very important questions:
A well prepared and widely accepted strategy and business plan can be a powerful document. Because it addresses the heart and core of the business, it addresses fundamental issues of extreme importance for the whole organisation and its environment.
It defines its vision in say five years time and details the building blocks or value dividers to get there. It integrates objectives, aligns, focuses, motivates, unifies and guides decision making. It links projects and budges with strategy and guides resource utilisation.
Your strategy document shows your stakeholders that you know where you are going, that you have a plan to get there and that you have a mechanism to determine your progress.
Without a plan (with the agreed destination and road map), you would not know what contributes to success, how to integrate the multitude of issues and objectives, where your focus should be and how to align and motivate your team. No business can exist and prosper, succeed and sustain without a plan specifying the goals, objective, the way of getting there and the measures to determine whether you are getting there or not.
Any financial institution wants to see the following before lending money:
The Figure 1 model can be related to the balanced scorecard development. A balanced set of perspectives should be used for mapping your strategy e.g: capacity and direction, internal processes, customer and financial.
The balanced scorecard is widely regarded as a leading model for strategy planning and execution (and performance management). As seen in Figure 2, cost performance is often the lagging indicator, depending on the other building blocks. The number of perspective could also be more or less than the proposed six.
With reference to Figures 1 & 2, it is recommended to start the strategy planning process by analysing the environment (with the customer as the most important stakeholder). The business purpose is to satisfy specific unmet and under-serviced needs of the target market by offering specific products or services.
In value proposition the target customers and their needs are identified, explaining the current inadequacy or gap. Based on these needs, the business offerings are developed in terms of the specific benefits it has to create for the customers through products, services and or information to satisfy their needs.
With this foundation established, the business mission should be clear. In the learning and growth perspective, the business capacity and direction are established. The vision (indicated as the guiding sun), should be clearly defined together with the broad business goals.
The resources required (staff, skills and assets – human, relational and structural) to create the required economic value are determined. The direction in the develo9pment and leveraging of resources is achieved through strategy and business planning.
Through the unique strategy, required resources are aligned towards achieving the set goals. It allows the business to distinguish it with a view to achieving sustainable competitive advantage.
The internal processes are where the internal action or operations are found – where the products, services or information are produced by means of transforming certain inputs (internal and/or external) to the desired outputs.
These transformations are described by policies and procedures and implemented through processes. The organisation id designed or structured (with roles and responsibilities) to best support these processes.
Technology is facilitating these processes and binding the structure through appropriate information systems for transformation, co-ordination and communication.
Processes include new offering realisation, business development, operations, financial management and marketing as well as their integration.
Good processes and service should lead to customer satisfaction. And the more funds, the better the business is able to service its customers.
In the public sector, this normally precedes the financial perspective because the ultimate goal is not profit or growth but customer or community service. Customers remain the beginning and end of a business.
Good service delivery and customer car will lead to good financial performance. This perspective has two main elements namely productivity improvement and revenue growth.
A strategy focused business is only possible by clearly linking strategic objectives (in each perspective) should each be linked to measures, targets and eventually projects and initiative.
These objectives or value drivers are identified and linked to each other with a cause and effect relationship. Measures and targets are identified for each objective to be able to assess performance – to determine whether objectives are being achieved. Projects or initiatives are then identified to achieve those measures.
It should be noted that a balanced scorecard normally generates numerous objectives. On the one hand this is valuable as it shows the big picture – all the required building blocks of the house you are building or all the pieces of the puzzle you are putting together.
But, on the other hand you may easily lose focus. You have to determine with objectives or value drivers are the most critical – in terms of importance and the long term effect on the business.
Focus on them, but do not forget about the others. Prioritisation is not only required for objectives, but also for all your initiatives, according to your annual budgets.
So what is the route of action?
Your strategic objectives are achieved by people working on initiatives and projects. This link has to be clearly and regularly communicated to maintain motivation and the binding force of the shared vision.
This process could be automated for easier performance Management. As monthly measurement takes place, more appropriate measures and targets could be determined.
Actual versus planned figures can be plotted to see trends.
After this strategic and business plan has been developed, it has to be executed successfully!
Only with a built-in performance management system, everybody can know what is expected from them over the period of the business plan – to reach the agreed upon objectives and eventually the vision.
The importance of strategy execution to realise the organisational vision is increasingly being recognised. Execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business world today. The execution of a strategy is more important and more valuable, than the formulation of a strategy. Unfortunately the vast majority of organisations fail miserably when attempting to execute their strategies.
Strategy is a dynamic and continuous process and not a once a year exercise. As in an attempt to conquer a mountain peak according to a details plan, you have to continually monitor you internal environment such as logistics and team health and your external environment like the weather, mountain conditions and competing teams as you progress to take appropriate corrective action when needed.
Critical success factors for strategy development and implementation include:
The importance of stakeholders buy-in and participation cannot be overemphasised. Strategy and business plans should be developed in a spirit of participation and collaboration. The CEO is responsible for the strategy and business plan and their execution, but will only succeed with the full participation of all stakeholders.