Here is an interesting idea: If we go to a night club and we go to a church, do we behave the same way? The answer is obvious, no we do not.
Then why do we behave differently if we are exactly the same person? If we apply the same logic to the workplace, then why would people behave differently if the workplace structure stays the same? Clearly they probably would not. The explanation informs why strategy so often fails to be effectively implemented. As much as we can focus on the individuals and teams attitude and skills, that alone is not nearly enough. So Jeff Lomey Associates has developed the seven levers model to help C Suite executives to maximise profits by quickly executing their chosen strategy. One lever that executives can “pull” is the customer value chain.
The chain of work steps (processes) that starts with suppliers and ends with customers getting their goods. If the strategy is to be customer centric, does the organisation design align with that or is it functional or matrix based? Are the value chain processes aligned with that desired strategic outcome? What measurements and competencies need to be developed to reinforce the strategy? These are some of the levers one can pull. Which ones are you pulling? Some years ago I was exceedingly fortunate to be asked to be part of a leadership team that went on a five year journey to radically transform a business.
The technical and financial results achieved were nothing short of spectacular. This three thousand strong workforce was reworked to focus on customers served by multi-skilled teams rather than functional departments. The ten or so management levels were flattened to half. The teams were managed largely by themselves with a measurement system that monitored performance. Communication across the old silo structure was enhanced by many cross function and cross regional forums. Managers were coached to become facilitators of customer facing work processes rather than just technical experts. A great story right? Well it was for a while. Soon after the top executive and some of his core team moved on to another turnaround, a new leader took over with his own style and team. Within six months the organisation reverted to the traditional work structures and processes and culture. What can we learn from this? It’s the top leadership that have most impact on strategy execution. If the execution is left to operational levels, the chance of failure is extremely high. Future articles will focus on strategic leader behaviour that drives strategy execution and why top companies get better financial results from executing their strategies effectively.
By Jeff Lomey [B.Sc. Elec. Eng. (Wits); MA. Applied Behavioral Sc. (City U; USA)]. Executive Director of Jeff Lomey Associates, specialists in strategy execution.