I sometimes wonder whether the world of business has or is becoming like the world of politics. Politics has become devoid of vision and so people feel as though there is no leadership. There’s nothing to hang on to, so why vote?
Why do I say this you may ask and what does it have to do with business?
I say this because it’s very hard to implement anything without a vision or clear articulated goal. And you can’t implement correctly without understanding your current circumstances.
Current circumstances which are related to the vision, this is something a business analyst can help you with. Vision must always come from you the leader. Once you are clear on your vision and the current situation you can then start to implement. There are dozens of ways to implement and I favour using some key principles. Some of these may be old ideas but because they are old it does not mean they are worthless. In fact I would say from a leadership standpoint, they are timeless and will always work irrespective of your industry or niche.
Business strategy and strategy implementation are of course key considerations. As are customer experience, systems, processes, your teams and other stakeholders. Depending on the size and therefore complexity of your organisation you may find departmental challenges which you hadn’t initially considered.
Larger businesses may have separate departmental targets and budgets which end up forming silos. If your planned goal or project crosses multiple departments then prepare for some significant challenges. Sometimes departmental targets can really get in the way of common sense. I’ll cover this question in another article but you have I hope been warned.
W Edwards Deming came up with some useful principles which we can apply to our implementation development. Plan – Do – Study – Act
Assuming you have a clear vision and goal which is shared and understood by the whole organisation you can make a start on your plan.
Your vision/goal has the effect of pulling people towards it which is a far better approach than trying to shove people towards it with sticks and carrots.
Plans and therefore planning can usually be chunked down into smaller easier to handle pieces.
Ultimately, unless you work in a very small business you will need to find ways to engage with people who will execute your plan. How will you do that? I’m sure you will have your own ideas on how you wish to do that but for my pennies worth here is one approach.
Formulate the principles for the project, I favour using; Plan – Do – Study – Act (I’ll discuss this more a little later)
Before embarking on your strategic implementation you need to do the following;
This is a systematic series of steps which W. Edwards Deming used as part of a continual improvement process. I think it can be applied to most if not all strategy and development projects.
The initial step (Plan) seeks to identify a goal and defines success measurements and metrics. The (Do) step is where the plan is implemented. (Study) assesses the outcome of the goal, it tests the validity of the plan, it looks at what worked and didn’t work, any problems and areas for improvement. The final step (Act) integrates what was learned, adjusts the goal and if necessary changes the initial idea.
In my view this system can only really work within an open organisation who will embrace any failures and see them as steps to learning. Businesses which tend towards command and control may find it difficult to execute because of the organisational culture.
You may have any number of implementation projects on the go at any one time. And you may have any number of discrete departments initiating projects. One crucial element to consider especially if one is driving to build a self sustaining business is to think very hard about optimising the business as a whole.
As organisations develop and grow, they are often built around departmental silos. Each department having it’s own management structure, budgets, targets and so on.
What do I mean when I say, “optimising the business as a whole?”
You as the leader will need to steer departments in such a way that they will seek out what’s best for the business and not what’s best for the individual department. This may need a degree of flexibility when looking at budgets and targets.
From time to time you may find that one department could deliver a way to save overall costs but it would cost them some of their budget and wouldn’t benefit them directly. This potential sticking point needs to be addressed so everyone wins.
Occasionally what’s best for the department is what’s best for the whole business but this will be extremely rare.
In terms of implementation I want to introduce you to a person called Robert Fritz, he formulated some interesting ideas which are going to be helpful to you.
The underlying structure will drive behaviour, I see this as part and parcel of Deming and his way of seeing business. The system of a business will have a disproportionate effect on the behaviour of the people inside the system.
The tension between the vision/goal and your current circumstances will seek a resolution.
You’ll get an idea from the graphic below here of what I mean;
The point I want to make is that your business and your systems which form your business will affect the way any project is implemented. Now, I don’t know who may be reading this and can’t at this stage offer more detail but I hope you will have a good hard think about the systems and processes in your business.
The tension between your vision and your current situation will seek resolution and pull people towards the outcome you the leader wants.
The image above has been simplified because any project will tend to be iterative. You and your team will learn from the various steps towards the outcome.This feedback loop naturally changes the actions as learning takes place from each mini implementation towards the final outcome.
If you would like some ideas and an initial discussion please use the contact form. There’s no charge and I’m pretty relaxed about sharing insights.