How can we use business strategy to meet the need for profound organizational change? Are the traditional tools for formulating and implementing business strategies still valid? Yes, they are, although we must also use complementary approaches if we wish to achieve true strategic management. Rather than discussing a strategic plan in great detail and undertaking an in-depth preliminary study, we must focus on major lines of action based on up-to-date business models. Management responsibilities should be assigned with a degree of flexibility and plans should be revised and improved periodically. We must chart an appropriate strategic course based on a current business model that makes it possible to stay competitive in today’s context.
A strategic management model
In order to set an appropriate strategic course, management teams must work on four management maps corresponding, respectively, to vision, deployment, execution, and energy.
The first map, which defines our vision for the future, involves six key steps:
- Identify the critical variables of the strategic environment and detect opportunities.
- Evaluate the company’s current situation, as well as its business model and capacities, in order to detect potential adjustments that would enable the organization to take advantage of opportunities.
- Identify the areas of value required by stakeholders and use them to guide sustainable value generation and corporate social responsibility.
- Review and adjust the strategic framework.
- Outline the necessary adjustments in the company’s business model and positioning.
- Plan the transformation of the business model in order to put change initiatives into action in accordance with the established lines of strategy.
For each line of strategy, we must establish objectives, initiatives that set a new course (abandoning “business as usual”), and a strategic budget on the basis of three key areas: income, expenses, and the investments required for the strategic initiatives.
The second map focuses on deployment. It begins with a roadmap based on goal-setting, management indicators, and target values (in the areas of finance, strategic resources, customers and critical service processes), as well as action plans to make the strategic initiatives viable and put them into practice. The deployment of this roadmap involves the following steps:
- Design a strategy map based on a roadmap that makes it possible to align and coordinate everyone who has responsibilities as well as appropriate metrics based on whatever viable information is available.
- Following the roadmap, deploy a strategy that facilitates the implementation and monitoring process.
For each line of strategy, we must establish objectives, initiatives that set a new course, and a strategic budget.
The third map—execution—includes implementation and the measurement of the progress of the established strategy. The key processes on this map are as follows:
- Review the organizational model to confirm that each initiative has a supervisor empowered to move it forward.
- Coordinate transversal projects with the responsibilities set out in the organizational chart.
- Measure the value contribution of the various centers of responsibility and projects.
- Align supervisors and their teams with the strategic vision.
- Align and coordinate the operating budget, which is usually drawn up on a monthly basis, with the first-year strategic budget approved in the plan.
- Monitor and control the strategy using metrics having to do with objectives, budgets, and the completion of initiatives and plans.
- Hold effective meetings to determine the causes of deviations and take corrective measures as necessary.
The fourth map, focused on energizing the organization and its people, is also essential. In this phase, the following steps must be carried out:
- Develop the necessary talent to carry out the functions described in the plan.
- Implement work processes that energize people and improve their occupational sustainability.
- Encourage commitment by adapting management systems (including compensation and incentive systems) to align people with the plan.
- Embed the values of the new culture in the behavior of the leaders as well as everyone else in the organization.
- Improve effective leadership competencies and governance processes in the organization.
We must manage the future not with a plan, but with a management process based on a decision-making framework.
Towards value creation
By integrating and aligning the content of the four maps, we can guarantee the implementation of this decision-making framework, which is essential to ensuring sustainable value creation in any organization.
Three key issues must be taken into account. First, strategic management is a must. Today’s organizations face rapidly evolving environments. We must therefore manage the future not with a plan, but with a management process based on a decision-making framework and guided by principles that allow a flexible, agile response to changes.
Second, this framework is based on the coordination of a series of tools and methodologies for envisioning, deploying, executing, and energizing, all with the aim of creating an agile decision-making process.
Finally, we mustn’t forget the pillars of strategic management. The management team must distribute its work hours among the seven pillars that support this process:
- Reflection and rigorous analysis of the environment and the company’s situation.
- Creativity to envision the necessary changes in the business model.
- Capacity to plan and deploy objectives and initiatives.
- Organizational flexibility to align and empower people.
- Decision-making capacity to make corrections and adjustments.
- Mental and executive flexibility to enable a diverse range of cultural profiles to coexist in a single decision-making and execution environment.
- Framework of values to guarantee the sustainability of the project.
The management team plays a fundamental role in integrating the four maps and boosting results in the short and long run, while at the same time generating a virtuous cycle based on improvement momentum.
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