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9 Key Principles to Successful Organizational Strategy
9 Key Principles to Successful Organizational Strategy A Point of View By Tom Tiede
Purpose of this PresentationThe purpose of this presentation is to review key principles that form thefoundation of successful organizational strategy.• The principles outlined are based on years of experience leading transformational initiatives and an array of published research from Harvard Business Review and McKinsey Quarterly• Individually, they play a critical role in defining our success• Collectively, they form a powerful toolkit to aid us in sustaining and growing our business• If we ignore these principles, we run the high risk of diminishing our return on investment across the pool of strategic decisions we have made and, ultimately, the sustainability of our organization Readers are encouraged to review the referenced materials at the back of the presentation for further detail and insight. 2
Unreliable StrategiesPopular but unreliable components of organizational strategy:• Hope – As we know, hope is not a strategy. Yet, too often, we rely on chance to define our success• Status Quo – Ultimately, status quo thinking leads to deteriorating performance versus our competition• Matching our Competitors – To play in the game you need “me too” capabilities, but winners don’t follow the herd. To win the game or to develop your own game you need to be distinctive• Implementing Best Practices – Operational excellence is important, but efficient, effective processes are not enough to drive growth at a rate needed to beat the competition• Following the Latest Craze – Even for first entrants, advantages are lost when not scalable, bundled with complementary services, or aided by a structural market barrier to competition• All or Nothing – Whether bold or desperate, this approach is highly risky and not sustainable• All Things to All Customers – Not only is this unrealistic, it leads to blandly blending into the fabric among our competition Instead, we should leverage sound principles and proven approaches to sustainable competitive advantage. 3
9 Key Principles to Successful Organizational StrategyTakeaways from this presentation:1. Be Different2. Target Growth at a Granular Level3. Be Insightful4. Hedge our Bets5. Minimize Bias6. Recognize that Tradeoffs must be Made7. Create an Agile Organization8. Lead with Conviction9. Motivate Change 4
1. Be Different Our first principle of a winning strategy is to be different. • Famed Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter termed this as Strategic Positioning, which means: o Performing different activities from our competitors, or o Performing similar activities but in different ways. • This requires us to define our competitive strengths and then bundle those strengths into product and service offerings that are unique while also creating a barrier to replication by competitors • Market advantages are derived from a position of strength. • Competitive strengths are distinguished by having a: o Structural advantage (with a high barrier to market entry), or o Special capability (such as a product patent or unique skillset). The more strengths that can be combined or bundled into distinct service offerings the more difficult it is to replicate in the marketplace.Reference: Michael Porter, “What is Strategy,” Harvard Business Review, November 1996, Volume 74, Number 6, pp. 61–78.b 5
Positioning Strategies There are three positioning strategies commonly used to create differentiation: Positioning Strategies* • Variety Based – offering unique value for a subset of products or services within an industry • Needs Based – tailoring and Value Based satisfying the majority of needs to a target customer segment within an industry • Access Based – providing access Access Needs limited products or services to Based Based customers based on geographic position, self-defined customer segments, etc. The key in any of these positioning approaches is to define a strategy that offers compelling value to customers in a way that is different from our competition.*Source: Michael Porter, “What is Strategy,” Harvard Business Review, November 1996, Volume 74, Number 6, pp. 61–78. 6
2. Target Growth at a Granular Level Our second principle is to target growth at granular level. 3 Forms of Growth* 1. Mergers and acquisitions, 2. Market share gains, and Mergers & 3. Overall industry gains (by riding Acquisitions the wave of momentum) Market share gains and overall Overall Market industry gains are two forms of Industry Share organic growth that are more Gains Gains easily exploited when opportunities are defined at a granular level The more granular the definition, the greater the focus, the more precise the allocation of resources, and the greater the likelihood of success.*Source: Mehrdad Baghai, Sven Smit, and Patrick Viguerie, “Is your growth strategy flying blind?” Harvard Business Review, May 2009 7Reference: Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smith, “Have you tested your strategy lately?,” mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2011
3. Be InsightfulOur third principle is to be insightful.• Being insightful is far less about “gut-feel” than it is about leveraging information in a meaningful way• Of particular importance is leveraging privileged information such as: o Sales data (in search of “white spots” of opportunity) o Field observations o Customer feedback• Another critical component to an insightful strategy is to take a dynamic approach to market trends 8
White Spots of Opportunity White spots are niches within the market or geographic landscape where our bundled service capabilities offer compelling value to largely untapped sources of demand. White Spots of Opportunity Data rich (but information poor) organizations have the opportunity to mine valuable insight Products into the white spots within the market by exploring the activity taking place at the intersection of: • Products, Channels Services White Spots • Services, of Opportunity • Customers, • Geographies, and • Channels Geographies Customers By shining a light at these intersections, we can expose high momentum areas of growth in which to target products, services, and promotions.Reference: Mehrdad Baghai, Sven Smit, and Patrick Viguerie, “Is your growth strategy flying blind?” Harvard Business Review, May 2009 9Reference: Philipp M. Natterman, “Best practice does not equal best strategy,” mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2000.
Customer FeedbackWhat can we learn from our customers?Sample questions to ask:• How well do we know our customers?• How well are we satisfying their needs?• What are they telling us?• Are they behaving differently than in the past? Organizations that seek to experience the world from a customer’s perspective are likely to develop a more insightful strategy. 10
Market Trends A critical component to an insightful strategy is to take a dynamic approach to market trends. • An effective strategy should direct our organization toward where the trends are taking us not where we have been • How do we identify and incorporate trends into our strategy? o First, we should look to broader societal trends that are impacting our organization o Second, we should look to the edges of our current markets. What new requirements are emerging from our customers? What are our smaller, nimble competitors offering? What technologies could change the game? o Third, we should look to more specific trends that impact our span of control such as new service or product offerings, changing sources of demand, or rising costs o And as we identify trends, we need to ask ourselves if they significantly impact our ability to grow revenue, our responsiveness to customer demand, or our profitability o Each trend answered with a “yes” should be followed with a corresponding strategy or tactic, at minimum, to maintain or enhance our competitive position Strategies slow to react to emerging changes in the market are strategies doomed for sub-par results.Reference: Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smith, “Have you tested your strategy lately?,” mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2011 11
4. Hedge Our Bets Our fourth principle is to hedge our bets. • Change and risk are inevitable parts of life and business • Try as we might to accurately predict the future, it cannot be done with certainty • The key is to manage change and associated risks in a way that maximizes the return on the investments we make to sustain and grow our business • In practice, this means pursuing a portfolio of initiatives to manage the tradeoffs between costs, risks, and rewards • Hallmarks of this approach include: o Disciplined research into the opportunities, o Explorative investment and experimentation in previously unfamiliar territories, o Bold investments made on true insight rather than leaps of faith, o Continual monitoring of results, and o Natural paring of initiatives that fail to meet expectations Think of it as this principle as the convoy approach whereby we deploy a convoy of strategic initiatives into battle in order to improve our overall odds of success.Reference: Lowell L. Bryan, “Just-in-time strategy for a turbulent world,” mckinseyquarterly.com, June 2002. 12
5. Minimize Bias Our fifth principle is to minimize bias. • Bias is a natural part of human and organizational behavior, but it can also be an impediment when developing our strategy • The following are a few of the more pervasive biases Bias Definition When we believe too strongly in our own abilities and forecasts. Seldom are optimism and a bias to action seen as a potential weakness within the Over-Optimism strategy. But, over-confidence can mask the facts or potential risks, especially when the message is communicated by a high ranking authority. When we place too much emphasis on avoiding loss. This often results in Risk Aversion strategies based on status quo. It also makes it difficult to jettison bad investments with sunk costs. When we place more emphasis on self-serving outcomes rather than the Personal Interest overall interest of our company. Groupthink When we too easily conform to the dominate view of the crowd. A strong (or Herding) and persuasive personality can often sway a room in the wrong direction. When we have an incorrect perception or understanding of the facts or Misinformation priorities. This commonly occurs when we overvalue information consistent with our belief while ignoring contrary evidence.Reference: Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smith, “Have you tested your strategy lately?,” mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2011Reference: Charles Roxburgh, “Hidden flaws in strategy,” mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2003.Reference: Sydney Finkelstein, Jo Whitehead, and Andrew Campbell, “Why good leaders make bad decisions and how to keep it from happening to you,” Boston: 13Harvard Business Press, 2008
Approaches to Minimize Bias A few potential approaches to minimize the bias in our strategic decisions are as follows: • Populate the decision making group with people with divergent opinions and interests • Encourage an open discussion of potential biases, and ask questions such as - Are we being too optimistic? Are we being too risk averse? How will personal and department incentives be impacted (positively or negatively)? Are we being too broad or too narrow in our viewpoint? What do we know to be true and what are our priorities? • To quell over-optimism, ask for dissenting facts and opinions • To overcome risk aversion, develop stretch goals or develop a clean sheet budget (unbiased by sunk investments) • To overcome personal interests – surface them, acknowledge them, and seek common ground across a group with divergent interests • To counter groupthink – develop objective decision criteria or invite outside opinions • To minimize misinformation – be very clear of the baseline facts, key assumptions, and the priorities for the business.Reference: Dan Lovallo and Olivier Sibony, “The case for behavioral strategy,” mckinseyquarterly.com, March 2010.. 14
6. Recognize that Tradeoff Decisions Must Be Made Our sixth principle is to recognize that tradeoff decisions must be made. • Our capabilities must be aligned with our strategy in order for it to succeed o We need to determine where to compete, how to compete, when to compete, and where to allocate our resources o In turn, we need to choose what not to do and where to divest o Often, this requires defunding projects, jettisoning past investments, lowering the priority of popular but underperforming investments, and cutting operational budgets and staffing in lower priority areas • Commitment to the strategy means difficult decisions must be made to rebalance our finite pool of resources to ensure alignment As leaders, we need to avoid the path of least resistance and allow logic and data to dictate the bold decisions necessary to sustain and grow our organization.Reference: Lowell L. Bryan, “Just-in-time strategy for a turbulent world,” mckinseyquarterly.com, June 2002 15Reference: Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smith, “Have you tested your strategy lately?,” mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2011
7. Create an Agile Organization Our seventh principle is to create an agile organization. Attributes of an Agile Organization: • Nimble and alert • Quickly recognize market opportunities and swiftly move to exploit them • Employ quick decision making capabilities, particularly when faced with game- changing opportunities • Quickly shift resources (cash, people) to areas with the greatest need or opportunity • Delegate key decision making responsibility and accountability to field leaders, who are better positioned to understand and react to the more granular opportunities that arise In empowering our field leaders, we are able to overcome the stereotypical bureaucracy of large company decision making, build a stronger sense of ownership at lower levels of our organization, and more effectively inspire and motivate our employees in a way necessary to successfully manage change.Reference: Donald Sull, “Competing through organizational agility,” mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2010. 16
8. Lead with Conviction Our eighth principle is to lead with conviction. • Teamwork at the top of the organization is critical to the success of our strategy: o We must be aligned, clear, and evangelical in the journey we leading o Any misalignment, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and mistrust among the leadership team leads to dysfunctional behavior that emanates like a virus • As leaders and catalysts for change, we must: o Enthusiastically articulate what strategic decisions have been made, why they have been made, how they will impact our organization, and what our action plan is for moving forward o Be certain our first step leads our organization in the right direction: − We need to be clear on our starting point and our baseline performance against which future levels of performance will be compared − And, for our action plan to succeed, it needs to pragmatically address the timelines, dependencies, and accountabilities for implementing the many changes required of our organization o Serve as positive role models and take personal responsibility for behaving consistently with the changes we are promotingReference: Erika Herb, Keith Leslie, and Colin Price, “Teamwork at the top,” mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2001.Reference: Josep Isern and Caroline Pung, “Driving radical change,” mckinseyquarterly.com, November 2007. 17Reference: Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smith, “Have you tested your strategy lately?,” mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2011
Attributes of Leadership Teamwork It is vitally important to proactively reinforce behaviors that encourage leadership teamwork. Leadership Team Attributes* Performance as a leadership team can be attributed to: • How closely we are aligned in Closeness of direction, Alignment • The quality of our interaction, and • The openness and frequency with which we interject new ideas and Renewal of perspectives into our Quality of Ideas & conversations Interaction Perspectives*Source: Erika Herb, Keith Leslie, and Colin Price, “Teamwork at the top,” mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2001. 18
9. Motivate Change Our ninth principle is to motivate change. Successful Transformational Change • Approximately, two of every three transformational change management Compelling Story programs fail at a Personal Level • To avoid similar results, we must: o Guide each organizational team member in writing a compelling story for change that is Reinforcing Successful Role Mechanisms Modeling appealing to their personal motivations Largely Non- Transformational Change Especially Monetary Leaders o Embody the strategic decisions we are promoting by serving as role models in how we change our own behaviors Capability o Address constraints that inhibit the development Building and use of new skills and capabilities across our & Constraint Blocking organization o Incentivize change through fair, creative reinforcing mechanismsReference: Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller, “The irrational side of change management,” mckinseyquarterly.com, April 2009 19Reference: Josep Isern and Caroline Pung, “Driving radical change,” mckinseyquarterly.com, November 2007.
Developing a Compelling Story for Change A story that is rational and compelling to leaders for the need to change, often fails to resonate. • As leaders, we need to realize that team members at lower levels within our organization often have motivations different than our own • It is far more effective to guide team members to write their own story in way that is appealing to their personal motivations o When an individual rationalizes the need for change on their own terms they become far more committed to the outcome o Further, the persuasiveness of the story is enhanced when it is balanced with both positive and negative factors that require us to change o The reasoning is that a story based on changing what is wrong is fatiguing and hints at blame whereas an overly positive story easily leads to cynicism or watered down aspirations o The reality is that most of us are more emotionally motivated to change when faced with the prospect of losing what we already have than we are when faced with the opportunity to gain something more o Therefore, a little anxiety is useful to spur change, but we need to temper it with the upside opportunity in order to create positive rather than negative energyReference: Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller, “The irrational side of change management,” mckinseyquarterly.com, April 2009 20Reference: Josep Isern and Caroline Pung, “Driving radical change,” mckinseyquarterly.com, November 2007
Incentivizing Change Rewarding behavioral changes can be accomplished creatively and inexpensively. • Research indicates money is an expensive and often ineffective way to motivate people o For many organizations, it is difficult to link the result of change with the compensation system o It can also be difficult to measure and compensate individual performance in a way that is perceived to be fair by everyone • Fortunately, research also shows that for most of us: Satisfaction equals Perception minus Expectation • Hence, small, unexpected rewards can have a disproportionately favorable impactReference: Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller, “The irrational side of change management,” mckinseyquarterly.com, April 2009. 21
Summary of Principles to Organizational StrategyAs leaders, it is our responsibility to continually remind ourselves and ourorganization of the importance of each of the key principles to successfulorganizational strategy and to put them into action. 9 Strategy Principles Summary Bundle strengths to differentiate products and services and 1. Be Different increase the difficulty of replication by competitors 2. Target Growth at a Granular Target opportunities, focus, and resources at white spots in the Level market Leverage privileged information, customer feedback, and 3. Be Insightful trends to combat the pitfalls of status quo thinking Research and pursue a portfolio of initiatives to increase the 4. Hedge Our Bets likelihood of overall success Do not allow natural human and organizational biases to cloud 5. Minimize Bias sound judgment 6. Recognize that Tradeoff Rebalance our finite pool of financial and people resources to Decisions must be Made align our capabilities with the strategy Empower decision making in areas where we need to be swift, 7. Create an Agile Organization nimble, and alert to needs and opportunities Foster teamwork across the leadership team and remain 8. Lead with Conviction aligned, clear, and evangelical regarding the strategy Be a role model, and recognize change must appeal to the 9. Motivate Change unique, personal motivations of each team member Include these principles in your toolkit! 22
Reference MaterialsReaders are encouraged to review the following reference materials for furtherdetail and insight.• Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smith, “Have you tested • Hugh G. Courtney, Jane Kirkland, and S. Patrick Viguerie, your strategy lately?,” mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2011. “Strategy under uncertainty,” mckinseyquarterly.com, June• Philipp M. Natterman, “Best practice does not equal best 2000. strategy,” mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2000. • Charles Roxburgh, “The use and abuse of scenarios,”• Michael Porter, “What is strategy?” Harvard Business Review, mckinseyquarterly.com, November 2009. November 1996, Volume 74, Number 6, pp. 61–78. • Lowell L. Bryan, “Just-in-time strategy for a turbulent world,”• Michael J. Lanning and Edward G. Michaels, “Thinking mckinseyquarterly.com, June 2002. strategically,” mckinseyquarterly.com, June 2000. • Dan Lovallo and Olivier Sibony, “The case for behavioral• Michael Porter, “The five competitive forces that shape strategy,” mckinseyquarterly.com, March 2010. strategy,” Harvard Business Review, January 2008, Volume • Charles Roxburgh, “Hidden flaws in strategy,” 86, Number 1, pp. 78–93. mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2003.• Mehrdad Baghai, Sven Smit, and Patrick Viguerie, The • Derek Dean, “A CEO’s guide to reenergizing the senior team,” Granularity of Growth: How to Identify the Sources of Growth mckinseyquarterly.com, September 2009. and Drive Enduring Company Performance, Hoboken, NJ: • Erika Herb, Keith Leslie, and Colin Price, “Teamwork at the Wiley & Sons, 2008. top,” mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2001.• Mehrdad Baghai, Sven Smit, and Patrick Viguerie, “Is your • Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller, “The irrational side of change growth strategy flying blind?” Harvard Business Review, May management,” mckinseyquarterly.com, April 2009. 2009, Volume 87, Number 5, pp. 86–96. • Mahmut Akten, Massimo Giordano, and Mari A. Scheiffele,• William I. Huyett and S. Patrick Viguerie, “Extreme “Just-in-time budgeting for a volatile economy,” competition,” mckinseyquarterly.com, February 2005. mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2009.• John E. Forsyth, Nicolo’ Galante, and Todd Guild, “Capitalizing • Josep Isern and Caroline Pung, “Driving radical change,” on customer insights,” mckinseyquarterly.com, August 2006. mckinseyquarterly.com, November 2007. • Donald Sull, “Competing through organizational agility,” mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2010. 23