The Organizational Strategist

October 29, 2014

Leading and Influencing Change Across Organizations


-Introduction-

Companies have many different alignment and operating models. Some are small, dynamic, and nimble, often sharing major activities with multiple parties, using a flatter organizational structure. Others are large, structured, and consistent, often centrally controlled and structured, and using a clear upward and downward hierarchy. Beyond that, there are companies that blend the two extremes. Networks, partnerships, franchises, and other types allow for specialization by product, cause, service, customer type, geography, or other focus area.

There is no one best approach. With increased central control, it becomes easier and simpler to act on top strategic priorities as all areas need to snap to it. Yet, it becomes much more difficult to adapt. With more distributed authority, many more activities can be done in an adaptive, emerging manner. Yet, having a systemic method of operating or repeatability is challenging. How can a company balance the benefits and style of being nimble and adaptable with repeatability and consistency? Let’s dive in!

-Taking the plunge-

Let’s take the example of franchises since they are a well-known blend of central elements, yet customize their approach by region. They are often independently owned and operated with support and shared benefits from the parent organization. The franchises localize their approach to their established region, which can make them very competitive and compelling to customers. This gives the franchise leadership the ability to innovate and find the best manner to meet market needs. At the same time, the franchise can leverage the parent company’s support, branding, marketing, operating models, standard products and services, and potentially other benefits. This helps the franchise organization to focus its efforts on its market (customer segments, product and service selection or refinement, adaptation to suit customer needs and wants, and so forth).

Often franchise businesses have some discretion to pick and choose what they use and how they operate. This then puts the parent company in more of an enablement position, instead of a directly leading role. That then means that if the parent company wants to change how something is done in the child organizations, it needs to be a blend of both exerting formal power and, likely more importantly, influencing that change.

That blend of formal power and informal influence is where the art of designing and implementing change comes into play, as opposed to a disciplined scientific method to change. It is less of a scientific effort because each region that a franchise operates in may have unique needs and approaches to success. That means that the central change to be rolled out, perhaps changing how to interact with customers, would need to have its core principles articulated and allow for region-specific adaptations for fit and market interest. Putting together assets such as vision materials, operating principles, guidelines, recommended best practices, and templates all provide lift while allowing for the innovative adaptation to the local region.

To pull together the overall change throughout the organization, it can help to break down the components of change. I’ll use the Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement (ADKAR®) model here:

Awareness – How aware are the franchises of the upcoming change?

The franchises would need to be clearly told what the upcoming change is, how it is going to happen, when it will be in place, and other details to simply understand the planned change.

Desire – How much desire or motivation do the franchises have for the upcoming change?

The franchises should be bought into this change. They should understand why it is important and helpful for both them as well as the parent company. The importance could be in any number of avenues (improve customer satisfaction, promote new market products that have sold really well elsewhere, and so forth).

Knowledge – How much knowledge do the franchises have around the upcoming change?

The franchises should be able to articulate the change in their own words and how it applies to them. As an example, if they are to sell a new product, they would need to understand the product details.

Ability – How able are the franchises to handle and adapt to the upcoming change?

The franchises must have the right skills, proficiency, time, resources, and so forth to enact this change.

Reinforcement – How well reinforced is the upcoming change to ensure it will last over time?

In order to ensure the change will persist and not revert back to the previous approach, the change would need to be rolled out in such a way that the new approach is adopted, tracked, and sustained.

-Summary-

Every organizational model has its own strengths and best fit uses. Along with that, each type has its own best fit approaches for evolving and leading change in and across the organization. Understanding where and how to strategically and tactically make changes in an organization is crucial for a transformative leader. For those would-be leaders, strive to find that right blend of art and science to lead and manage change. Good luck!

 

Please note that the ADKAR Model® and the Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement phrase are copyrights of Prosci, all rights reserved.

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August 13, 2012

An approach to maintaining strategic course over time – strategic divestment


-Introduction-

Businesses grow, markets mature, corporate directions change, product/service portfolio evolves, or other broad ranging factors change rapidly or over time.  Encompassing changes like these can have cascading effects and influences in how a business should approach, compete, and operate in their surrounding market environments.  During times like that, it is vitally important to keep up with the market space updates by adding new products, services, partnerships, or other offerings to stay relevant.  What is sometimes overlooked is that as a business moves forward, there can be products, services, customers, operational processes and other ways of doing business may be obsolete or no longer as helpful.

Updating your corporate strategy to streamline operations, profitability, effectiveness, strategic return on investment, product/service mix, and other factors in your approach can make your organization thrive.  The results of these updates can mean altering course, adding new pursuits, or even removing previously undertaken initiatives.  The removal of previous initiatives whether they are projects, services lines, products, acquired companies, etc. is called strategic divestment.

-Optimizing Current and Future Strategy-

Taking on these practices emerges from analysis of your planned future strategy and current strategy to how the resources and capabilities are performing.  It may be that certain customers, even if they are sizeable in nature, require far more attention and input for their size, than other customers.  Having a smaller set of higher quality (increased return/profitability, brand recognition, long term potential, etc.) customers can be the best bet.  It is not always the case that simply having high volume means high profitability.  By having fewer customers that bring increased profitability with less customer attention, which can free up the time needed to work on strategic projects or finding new customers that are also highly profitable.

It can be difficult to move forward with strategic divestment initiatives.  The previous investment of money, time, resources, and energy can make one reticent to move on. It is important to think rationally and to know when the efforts of the past are truly sunk costs.  However, the long term thinking and understanding of the costs (not just money) versus the revenue potential can make those choices clearer and easier to make.

The act of divesting can take many formats as well.  It may be a simple discontinuation of an ongoing program.  It could be selling off a product or set of patents.  Another example might be spinning off a division as a new company.  In this last case, severing or loosening the ties to the organization can make it more effective in the long run.  As was written in earlier articles, innovative new ideas need room to take shape.  A company may want to set up a particular division as a separate entity entirely to allow it to decide on the unique approach, organize, and implement with an approach which would be inhibited (oppressive culture, not moving fast enough, hesitant to take risks, etc.) by being a part of the greater company.

-Moving Forward-

The decision to take on a strategic divestment, as already mentioned, can be tough to work through.  It can also be very challenging to enact.  If you were to tell a long term customer that you’ve opted to longer work with them, which will probably be a shock.  It is important to foresee these challenges and plan your tactics.  Think about the most graceful way to deliver these actions.  It can be important to honor the arrangement (say to the close of a contract), remember and celebrate the progress made, and work to find the best time to move along and help support the transition.  Supporting the transition may mean sending a customer to one or your partner organizations, setting up the child organization (in the case of having the parent company intentionally separate the organizational boundaries), or aligning other helpful services to coordinate the transition.  That type of support can go a long way to continuing the goodwill derived from a company’s engagement and style.  Know that the tough short term decisions may be the right ones for the long term health of a company.

March 14, 2012

Strategy eats culture for breakfast, lunch, and dinner


-Introduction-

I have often heard the saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  I flat out disagree with that statement as it assumes strategy has a very limited view and definition.  When I hear that I immediately think that whoever says that has strategy poorly defined.

-Strategy and Culture-

Strategy, as I described it in an earlier article, is the alignment of resources and capabilities to win in the market.  The more important and bigger the strategy in a company means that this encompasses more and more of the resources and capabilities.  Strategy, by its very nature, is meant to encompass as much as possible about the company and particularly all of the factors that influence, empower, and enact it.

Culture is a much discussed organizational topic.  As I see it, all other facets of organization design speak to the intended structure (people alignment, reporting, function), workflow (horizontal, vertical, lateral connections), reinforcement (valuation/benefits, metrics/tracking), and people/policy (who actually fits into the structure, talent management, rules).  Culture is the glue that binds the organizational makeup together because it consists of the behavior, demeanor, and style that the individuals and groups exhibit.  Culture is all about the people and how they work together to enable or disable the organization’s intents.  That then means strategy should include culture in its definition because that speaks to the org’s resources (the people themselves as the most important piece) and capability (how effectively the intentions are carried out).

The Fast Company article of Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch left me wanting to read more as it did not speak to the conflict or overlap that strategy and culture can have.   The article speaks about many of the benefits of culture, but falls short on the linkage of culture to strategy.  When strategy does not take into account the enabling or perhaps disabling elements of culture, then the strategy either does not build on a key strength (where culture enables) or mitigate a primary challenge (where culture disables).   Strategy should always account for culture to help ensure the strategy’s success.  The bigger the change the strategy aims to create, the more impactful culture can be in regards to the adoption of the change, the impact the strategy has on the intangibles (brand, communication, values, etc.), and the overall success because most everything about strategy hinges on people.

-Summary-

Strategy in its definition, planning, and implementation is meant to be encompassing to create a holistic approach.  This means culture should always be a consideration.  When you cook your meals, you want to have all the right ingredients in place.  Without the proper ingredients, your whole meal can be less than desirable if not cause havoc in the kitchen. If you forget an ingredient, disaster can strike in all sorts of ways.  If my own culinary adventures are any indication, Strategy needs to include and address culture whenever culture is an ingredient in the mix.  Where and how have you seen an organizational culture enable strategy’s success?

-Links-

My early strategy article: http://blog.seattlepi.com/organizationalstrategist/2009/10/17/market-leadership-requires-enduring-strategy/

Fast Company article: http://www.fastcompany.com/1810674/culture-eats-strategy-for-lunch

January 30, 2012

Gauging Strategic Need and Action


-Introduction-

There are many challenges that managers and leaders face when devising and implementing their strategies.  There can be a vast array of information present that overwhelms the senses or close to no information at all which can cause hesitation.  Knowing what is the right information to act on and then finding it is an ongoing challenge.  This is due to the myriad of factors that go into creating a strategic vision, rolling it out to the organization(s) involved, and the intricate process of managing the change as it is enacted.

-Utilizing Cynefin Model for Strategic Approach-

With all of these challenges that strategists face, it is hard to understand and know where and how to best proceed.  Along with that, leaders may not always know what they even need because of how the situation might evolve.  A while back I was fortunate enough to be invited to a seminar with Dave Snowden.  He presented his Cynefin model during the seminar.  I found it to be an interesting way of conceptualizing the types of situations that strategists face and recommended activities to pursue.

What the Cynefin model does is to breakdown the various types of situations, problems, and challenges into helpful and manageable segments.  The model has multiple situational domains to fit the kind(s) of information that may be present.  It also describes the level of difficulty to best act upon the domain. Below is a picture of Snowden’s that shows the domains, activities, and kind of practice that can be derived.

Cynefin Framework by Dave Snowden

Thinking about and classifying your current situation can only get you so far.  Knowing how to respond to your situation and what activities to engage in is the crucial juncture to show how effective a strategic implementation can be for a leader.   I’ve built upon Snowden’s work with my interpretations and experiences below to help guide those actions:

Domain

Description

Recommendations

Simple

As the name says, this is the easiest to understand.  The responses here can be laid down into concrete rules to optimize operations and articulate the fine-tuned best practices involved. In this domain, documenting and observing what works well, what works poorly, and the overall impact from activity.  This should be tracked in detail to then fuel continuous improvement initiatives to evolve and optimize an organization’s activities.

Complicated

In this domain, the amount and various types of information make it more challenging to act upon.  Here the breakdown of information into relevant groups and types leads to easier analysis and helping lead the information patterns into the simple domain. A big drive for this domain is to find the right tools to move groups or types of information into the simple domain.  To do this, seek out patterns and analyze the information for any or all of the following aspects:

  • Easiest to act on
  • Highest impact to enable the strategic intent
  • Short term applicability
  • Long term applicability
  • Buy-in from stakeholders
  • Stakeholder input (pain-points, brand recognition, value for stakeholders, etc.)
  • Return on investment
  • Leverage for future opportunities

This is a foundational element of business intelligence and so pulling together the right stakeholder alignment, formal engagement and action process, and communications to enable others to act and scale this approach out en masse. In this and following domains, it can help out tremendously to bring in consultants and experts to help navigate the difficulties of the domain.

Complex

This domain is where having clarity of thought becomes outright difficult.  There are many tougher aspects to tackle and analysis can only go so far.  The probing activity is the start or piloting of ideas, concepts, and efforts to gauge effectiveness and then expand.  As pilots progress, they can create enough clarity to progress a situation into being a complicated one. Using experience, observation, knowledge, resource and any other means to come up with pilot initiatives to see where and how the environment responds.  The rationale for piloting is that it gives clarity into what does and does not work while minimizing the risks involved.  Once an understanding of what works well is known, scaling out that and similar initiatives can be done more effectively and with lower risk overall.  When prioritizing pilot initiatives to undertake consider the following factors to help grasp which option is most promising:

  • Likelihood of user/environment adoption
  • Ease of implementation and experimentation
  • Predicted ROI over short and long duration
  • Influence an impact of stakeholders
  • Effectiveness of stakeholder engagement in a given pilot activity
  • Ability to create a ripple effect or chain reaction of positive inertia
  • Implications for branding purposes (for both the potential positive and negative aspects)
  • Alignment with other strategies and key objectives
  • Transparency into the most important variables
  • Ability to prevent others from entering/competing (blue ocean strategy)

Chaotic

This domain is beyond complex by being without clear order or understanding.  Knowing what is happening is difficult because the influences and moving parts are not clear in themselves.  This area must go on more abstract heuristics of what has worked in the past, like leadership principles, that give clarity into a kind of action but are not prescriptive.  As these are employed, given best judgment, it can help move a situation into a complex one. Here visionary ideas come into question as they may be utilized in full or discrete circumstances.  A leader may have values that are central to her or his teachings and actions.  By imparting those values and how they influence strategy, that can create leadership principles or operating heuristics. In this domain a best guess or try is called upon because there is no clear or definitive approach that can be ascertained.  As with the complex domain, minimizing the risk is an important factor and the risks are even larger here with so many unknowns. 

Perhaps here more than others, it is important to very closely observe, track progress and activity, and learn what happens to then derive patterns and preferred approaches.

-Summary-

As a strategist is immersed in different domains and circumstances, the needs for more thoughtful and thorough organizational development and effectiveness activities grows significantly.  Particularly in complex and chaotic domains, devoting significant time and resources to maximizing the brain power, dedication, and diligence around the strategic activity and implementation becomes chiefly important.  The more challenging a domain may be the bigger the potential risks and the rewards.  Will you be one to take on the biggest challenges or simply watch others? 

-References-

The Wikipedia article and image were both taken from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin site.

October 24, 2011

McKinsey 7S Model – Progressive Change


-Introduction-

In an earlier article, I introduced the strategic and alignment 7S model from McKinsey.  Assessments, like the 7S or the well-known SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), help establish a snapshot of the status and progress of an organization, product, or service.  These assessments alone do not give lasting value and information as market forces change quickly and often with little notice. As such, an assessment is best utilized as a change catalyst to move the organization forward.

-Applying McKinsey 7S Model Assessments-

With planned change, the destination or future state should be understood first.  This knowledge gives perspective.  Having a future state vision allows one to gauge progress, set targets, and milestones to achieve.  Once the future state is known, the current state can be documented to show a comparison.  This makes it clear what can be leveraged, where the current strengths are, and where there are areas to build or holes to fill.  The gap analysis leads to steps to build upon.

 As covered in the previous article, the McKinsey 7S Model covers multiple facets of an organization.  In order to most effectively change an organization, the foundational characteristics (Shared Values) and broad ranging direction (Strategy) should be addressed first.  Following that, the internal coordination (Structure) and setup (System) should be determined to align to the direction.  Lastly, the more people-centric areas fulfill an organization’s goals and objectives.  That is done via updates to its capability (Skills), individual placement (Staff) and the manners that people interact and work (Style).

 

-Conclusion-

The McKinsey 7S Model is helpful in delivering a comprehensive organizational analysis.  Using that information can lead to a new vision, through internal operation updates, and down to individual abilities and placement.  Mapping out change in its entirety is very helpful in its planning.  The successful execution and management of that change then requires a comprehensive, dedicated, business impact-focused, and sustained effort.

July 31, 2011

Strategic Wisdom: An informed action is the impactful one


Wisdom is defined by dictionary.com as the following:

1. the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

2. scholarly knowledge or learning: the wisdom of the schools.

3. wise sayings or teachings; precepts.

There are many things I appreciate or learn from others that I find to be wisdom.  What may be wisdom to me may not be the same to others.  That is because what is insightful varies based on perspective and experience.  If I were to receive the same advice as I heard recently during a radically different phase of my life, I may not find it interesting or valuable.  In recollection though, I have found that old wisdom still rings true when I place myself back in the mindset and position I was in. 

I’ve compiled a short list of phrases or sayings that I have found to be astute and helpful that applies to the context of the Organizational Strategist.  These may be from famous sources, but they are currently unknown to me.  I hope you find them to be valuable in your own way. 

 

Words create worlds – I heard this saying in regards to appreciative inquiry designs and dialogues.  The words that are chosen to create inquiry, start and intervention, or bring about new thought signal what is to come.  The core design of a question is the harbinger of what will come from the response.  Choose your words with care and thought to bring about new ideas and actions.

Distinction in strategy is powerful – Strategy is the alignment of capabilities and resources to win in a market.  If the mix of capabilities and resources create a unique approach, it becomes more difficult to duplicate or substitute.  This makes them more appealing, interesting, and sustainable over time.  This differentiation is often a core element of many of the most influential strategies.

Health comes before strategy – While devising and implementing strategy are vitally important to the success of an organization, health can be more important.  If an organization is very unhealthy, it will not matter if the strategy is magnificently planned because people are what make strategy effective.  Having a healthy and productive organization is the foundation that long term strategy needs to build on.

Strategy wins over culture – Strategy is mean to be the alignment of ALL the applicable capabilities and resources in an organization to win in its market. That would include the behavior and activity that happens among the people within the organization.  The culture of an organization is often an important element in victory or defeat.  Due to that, successful strategies should pay heed to the importance of culture and how it enables or disables the effectiveness of strategy.

Culture change starts via stories and examples – The culture of an organization is grown and cultivated over time.  It is not a simple level to switch or dial to spin.  What initiates culture change is vision, storytelling, leadership, and guiding principles for others to take ahold of and build upon.

People act on what is measured and tracked – Aspirational statements and visions do not have direct impact to people unless it falls within their power and ability to act upon.  People may be well intentioned and give extra effort, but if they are not contributing to the core metrics of an organization, they will not be as effective.  As a result of that, key performance indicators (KPIs) and tracking form the basis of what is most important in an organization.  If it is measured and tracked where people are held accountable to those qualitative or quantitative results, it will be more important for those people to act upon.

Innovation should be protected and incubated – Innovation by its core nature involves ideas and trying something new or different.  The more a company has a drive for delivery, the further detached the innovation should become.  That enables more freedom in thinking and the ability to experiment.

Do not try to apply lean principles to innovation – Like the above point, innovation involves creativity. Lean, Six Sigma, CMMI and other mechanisms for process improvement do very well for maturing processes.  However, they should not be imposed on new processes and ideas as they can stifle the possibilities that can emerge.

Every change is an opportunity – Whether change is occurring because something good or bad is expected to happen, treat the approach as a new opportunity.  By thinking openly, the solutions to challenges, problems, or goals can lead to far better results than the anticipated return to a status quo.

People do not inherently resist change, but they do resist being changed – Much like taxes, change is a constant force in everyone’s lives.  It may be slower or faster, dramatic or gradual, positive or negative or other elements.  Change is something we all exposed to and happens whether or not we are ready for it.  Yet, when we plan, understand, and welcome change it can be embraced and boosting.  If we fight it, then it becomes a battle or a war.  The important point is that inspiring others to buy-in to change makes it so they accept it.

If you have thoughts to share on these sayings or other ones that have been valuable to you, share them here!  I am sure to not be the only one who would enjoy the conversation and learning.

May 24, 2011

The Evergreen Model: The gateway strategy model as an assessment


-Introduction-

In my previous blog article, I introduced the Evergreen Model, which is also known as the 4 + 2 Model.  This article will dive into how to use the model as an assessment for internal or external consulting purposes.   There are sets of questions should be expanded upon during an assessment’s data gathering. 

-Assessing the Core Elements-

Strategy Questions-

  1. What is the organization’s strategy aiming to achieve?
  2. Describe how it is organized, aligned, and implemented.
  3. How does the organization grow?  What is the track record?  What are the future plans?
  4. What is the value proposition to customers?

 

Execution Questions-

  1. Rate and describe the organization’s product and/or service delivery.
  2. What is done to continually improve delivery? How does that compare to the industry?
  3. How does the organization respond to changing market conditions?
  4. How satisfied are customers?

 

Culture Questions-

  1. Describe the organizational culture.  What is valued and sought after?
  2. How are the desired behaviors reinforced (reward/punishment)?
  3. What were the founding principles of the organization?
  4. Where and how do the founding principles show through?

 

Structure Questions-

  1. How are employees organized? What are the accountability relationships?
  2. What is the information flow like? 
  3. How are decisions made and carried out?
  4. Does the structure enable work to be done at higher quality, faster, and/or with fewer resources?

 

-Assessing the Auxiliary Elements-

Talent Questions-

  1. What is done to develop and cultivate the employees?
  2. How happy are the employees?  What is the attrition and retention like?
  3. How engaged are the employees?  Do they enjoy the work, find it interesting and thrive in the challenges?
  4. What are the selection and promotion processes?  What is leadership’s involvement there?

 

Innovation Questions-

  1. How are new ideas incorporated into new and existing products, services, and operations?
  2. How does the organization stay on top of industry developments?
  3. What does the organization do to innovate?  How successful is the organization at innovating?

 

Leadership Questions-

  1. How does leadership interact with employees?  How is the leadership committed to execution?
  2. What is the vision and mission that employees hear from leadership?
  3. What is the relationship between employees and leadership like (trusting, inspirational, proud, etc.)?
  4. How invested is leadership to the success of the organization?

 

Mergers & Partnerships Questions-

  1. How does the organization work with other organizations?  Are there M&As or partnerships?
  2. What is the size and scope of these deals and partnerships?
  3. How effectively do the M&A deals go through (before and after)?
  4. How effectively do the organizations and partners work together?

 

With the Auxiliary Elements, it may be necessary to first determine which the two selections are or what should be the two selections.  Each element can lead to substantial organizational efforts, so finding where to focus efforts can help ensure an organization is not spreading itself too thin.  The Auxiliary Elements can form sustainable competitive advantages as well. 

-Analyzing Results and Next Steps-

The analysis should look for themes and patterns in the following aspects:

  • Consistency
  • Alignment
  • Conflicts
  • Gaps
  • Support

 

A traditional SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis could be done as well.  Other questions that should be examined include:

  • What is the core like in relation to the auxiliary areas?
  • What are the best and worst auxiliary areas?
  • What are the chosen two auxiliary areas, if it’s not already known?
    • What should they be?
    • What needs to change?

 

The exact next steps would be dependent on the question results.  Each element, both in the core and the auxiliary sets, could result in further investigation and targeted initiatives.  Here are some general guidelines to act upon:

  • The core 4 are absolutely vital.  These form the basis of a successful organization so those would have prioritized action.
  • Choose the 2 auxiliary options, if it is not already clear.  Then focus and refine those to make them core competencies of the organization. 
  • The SWOT analysis should lend itself to combinations of Strengths (S), Strengths and Opportunities (SO) and Strengths and Threats (ST) to overcome the Weakness (W) areas.

 

These questions and analysis points can give you a great start into determining how effective the 4 core and 2 selected elements are in an organization.  Share how your assessments go and what other tools and techniques are useful complements!

May 21, 2011

The Evergreen Model: The gateway strategy model


-Introduction-

Like other strategic models, the Evergreen Model has its best case uses and poor fits.  The Evergreen Model, also known as the 4 + 2 Model, is a good for a general organizational framework.  The Evergreen Model looks into core organizational aspects that need to be well aligned to lead toward marketplace success.

-The 4+2 Elements-

This model comes from a comprehensive 10 year study of 160 companies, across 40 industries, which were all performing at an equal level.  The study was named “The Evergreen Project.”  Over time, there were clear companies that excelled while others floundered.  The results of tracking and examining these companies can be boiled down to a set of 4 core pursuits common to the successful companies and a selection of 2 auxiliary pursuits. This is why it is sometimes known as the 4 + 2 Model instead of the Evergreen Model.  The authors of the study and model are:

  • Nithin Nora, Dean of the Harvard Business School
  • William Joyce, Strategy and Organizational Theory from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business
  • Bruce Roberson, Executive Vice President of marketing and sales at Safety-Kleen

 

The model can be used as an organizational assessment that covers common organizational elements.  I will later get into the assessment or consulting take on the model.  That will include question sets to examine the health and orientation of the 4 core pursuits as well as the 2 selected auxiliary pursuits.  Each of the examined pursuits could lead to many initiatives, which is why it is a more general framework.

The distilled essence of the core four elements are as follows:

Strategy

  • Focus and stay the course
  • Continually grow

Execution

  • Strive for excellence
  • Prioritize operational changes to ensure solid delivery

Culture

  • Drive performance and behavior
  • Reinforce and reward good performance

Structure

  • Create a simple, flat, and non-bureaucratic organization
  • Instill collaboration and empowerment

 

All 4 core elements are crucial for success.  These drive the organization forward and sustain it over time.  It is also nice to have visuals.  Here are the 4 core elements and the selection of the 2 auxiliary elements on the right. 

 

The selection of the 2 auxiliary strategic pursuits should be determined by a combination of what would be most appealing or helpful to the organization and what the organization has already been striving towards. 

For example, not all market spaces would require innovation if the organization delivers products or services that do not need to be new to the industry or environment.  Another example might be that talent is not crucial for the organization if the primary execution does not require advanced experience or knowledge.

It is likely that most organizations have been working toward one or more of these pursuits, but may not have clearly focused on just two.

-Next Steps-

I call the Evergreen Model the gateway model as it sets up high level of organizational guidance.  Once it is employed, it can lead to many other avenues of inquiry and effort.  Other strategic models might complement the approach an organization takes.  Try it out and see how it can take your organization to its next level.

-Resources-

This Harvard Business School article formed the basis of this article.  My education, research, and experience supplemented and shaped the content in this blog post.

April 24, 2011

McKinsey 7S Model: A strategic assessment and alignment model


-Introduction-

The 7S model is a strategic model that can be used for any of the following purposes:

  • Organizational alignment or performance improvement
  • Understanding the core and most influential factors in an organization’s strategy
  • Determining how best to realign an organization to a new strategy or other organization design
  • Examining the current workings and relations an organization exhibits

 

The model, made famous by the McKinsey consulting company, is good for a thorough discussion around an organizations activities, infrastructure, and interactions.

-The model and its usage-

Here is the 7S model that portrays seven elements of an organization.

 

I define the elements as follows:

Strategy – This is the organization’s alignment of resources and capabilities to “win” in its market.

Structure – This describes how the organization is organized.  This includes roles, responsibilities and accountability relationships.

Systems – This is the business and technical infrastructure that employees use on a day to day basis to accomplish their aims and goals.

Shared Values – This is a set of traits, behaviors, and characteristics that the organization believes in.  This would include the organization’s mission and vision.

Style – This is the behavioral elements the organizational leadership uses and culture of interaction.

Staff – This is the employee base, staffing plans and talent management.

Skills – This is the ability to do the organization’s work.  It reflects in the performance of the organization.

 

To assess each of these elements, here are some questions to ask:

Strategy –

  • What is the organization’s strategy seeking to accomplish?
  • How does the organization plan to use its resources and capabilities to deliver that?
  • What is distinct about this organization?
  • How does the organization compete?
  • How does the organization adapt to changing market conditions?

Structure –

  • How is the organization organized?
  • What are the reporting and working relationships (hierarchical, flat, silos, etc.)?
  • How do the employees align themselves to the strategy?
  • How are decisions made? Is it based off of centralization, empowerment, decentralization or other approaches?
  • How is information shared (formal and informal channels) across the organization?

Systems –

  • What are the primary business and technical systems that drive the organization?
  • What and where are the system controls?
  • How is progress and evolution tracked?
  • What internal rules and processes does the team utilize to maintain course?

Shared Values –

  • What is the mission of the organization?
  • What is the vision to get there?  If so, what is it?
  • What are the ideal versus real values?
  • How do the values play out in daily life?
  • What are the founding values that the organization was built upon?

Style –

  • What is the management/leadership style like? How do they behave?
  • How do employees respond to management/leadership?
  • Do employees function competitively, collaboratively, or cooperatively?
  • Are there real teams functioning within the organization or are they just nominal groups?
  • What behaviors, tasks and deliverables does management/leadership reward?

Staff –

  • What is the size of the organization?
  • What are the staffing needs?
  • Are there gaps in required capabilities or resources?
  • What is the plan to address those needs?

Skills –

  • What skills are used to deliver the core products and/or services? Are these skills sufficiently present and available?
  • Are there any skill gaps?
  • What is the organization known for doing well?
  • Do the employees have the right capabilities to do their jobs?
  • How are skills monitored, assessed, and improved?

 

Once the questions are answered, the data should be examined.  The analysis should look for the following aspects:

  • Consistency
  • Alignment
  • Conflicts
  • Gaps
  • Support
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

The uses of the model can be as a static picture to determine how effectively the organization is implementing its strategy.  Also, it can be used two-fold with a current state and an intended future state.  By comparing the current and future states, gaps can be assessed, which lead to improvement and action plans.  That latter case makes enables the model to be used for large scale change.

-Summary-

Like any model, there are good fits and poor fits.  This is a handy model for taking a snapshot and comparing that to the desired state or improvement.  It visually shows how everything is linked and understanding the larger implications of change can be very revealing.  It is much like how a general doctor can help diagnose a patient’s situation, but the fine-tuned skill of a surgeon can be used to make the specific, desired changed. 

Update:

Read more about how to leverage a McKinsey 7S Model assessment on my follow up article McKinsey 7S Model: Progressive change.

Sources:

This article’s content was based on http://www.themanager.org/models/7S%20Model.htm, http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm, and my experience and opinions.

April 13, 2011

Change of pace and openings for opportunities


-Introduction-

Organizational development includes many activities that organize, align, and implement strategy.  When undertaking an organizational development initiative, like strategic planning or designing, it requires a shift from the busy activity and drive to push out services and products to customers.  This shift is a time where “out of the box thinking”, “game changers”, “paradigm shifts” and other achievements can be made.

-Take ahold of the time you have to reshape your outlook-

Organizational development activities often include taking the time to really think and work through the challenges at hand.  It is easy to get lost in the chaos and activity of day to day business.  Over time, focus and clarity of purpose can be lost or diminished.  Market environments change as do the nature of consumers, competitors and even internal operations. 

As products and services emerge, mature, and become obsolete the very nature of an organization’s purpose can change.  As these changes occur, it makes sense to pause the inertia to examine if the course should be changed with ongoing efforts, to scrap long term efforts, or begin new initiatives.  During these times of pause, the organization can be reconfigured, bolstered, or fine-tuned.  These occasional events are prime opportunity for change.  It’s in these events that existing and planned investments of time, money, and capability can all be put in check to revamp the organization’s strategy and choices. This is where revelations and innovations are sparked.  The outcomes can become fantastic if they are capitalized.

-Summary-

Basically, organizational development allows for a break in the charge forward to think where your organization is at, where it should be going, and how it should evolve to get there.   Continually charging forward can lead to errors in judgment, loss of opportunities, and moving in the wrong direction.  Take advantage of the time at hand to challenge and clarify the assumptions that have been made, understand how the market environment has evolved, and realign the organization’s resources and capabilities to maximize your strategic execution.

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