October 10, 2012

Strategic Simplicity for Unstoppable Growth

Complexity is the silent killer of businesses and equally of the human spirit. Choices! Decisions! We have to make them all the time. You, your customers and your staff have to make them. The ideal situation would be if we all could make those decisions easier, if we knew instantly that each decision we are making is the right one. Hey, imagine if your customers could always choose your product or service as a ‘no brainer’.

Imagine! The satisfaction, the time saved, the pride of achievement, the profitability to the organisation, the released energy and capacity for doing what we are best at and enjoy most! All this is possible when an organisation has a clear and shared strategic focus through Non-Negotiable Principles.

The power of a company’s Vision and Mission is realized when Leaders translate it into a handful of Non-Negotiable Principles [NNPs] with a robust learning systems built around them, which drive focus and constant improvement into daily operations, in every job.

Non-Negotiable Principles [NNPs] translate the company’s Competitive Advantage (Core Competency), in the context of the Vision, into a few actionable statements all employees can understand, relate to, and apply when making daily decisions.

Remember: if it doesn’t help employees make decisions, it’s not a Non-Negotiable Principle!

Non-Negotiable Principles Help Organizations Achieve 4 Things:

  1. Give people freedom and creativity to make right decisions within a clear framework
  2. Increase the speed of improvement and adaptation
  3. Shorten the distance between the CEO and the front-line – building an agile organisation with self-directed people
  4. Transform the culture – empower people, foster ownership and co-creation, provide focus for improvement and operational excellence; build innovation capacity.

 “If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you there”
Alice in Wonderland

Many successful organisations focus on one key measure which may imply a whole set of supporting rules, which can all be tested with a single question: “Will this action support our Competitive Advantage?” The purpose of knowing your competitive advantage is to constantly improve and adapt, so it remains relevant.

Designed to Achieve Bigger Purpose

Gordon Bethune, taking over a troubled Continental Airlines, made his team focus on ‘on-time arrivals’. This simple rule allows everyone test their every action daily, by asking: ‘Will this choice/decision help us be known and deliver our promise as an ‘on-time arrivals’ airline?

Paul O’Neill, taking charge of Alcoa’s aluminium giant, made his top priority: ‘No worker accidents’. For a commodity business, it was ultimately about cost leadership. But he saw that to prevent accidents, all employees would have to understand their operations so well that operational efficiencies would result.

In the 1980s, a new director of New York City’s troubled subway system declared: ‘No graffiti’. He knew that eliminating graffiti would provide an important victory and would, in turn, lead to other improvements.

Strategically Focused Organization

Too often organisations seem to confuse strategy with a sales plan. Strategy is about the compelling purpose, which tells everyone where a company will play, how it will play, and what it will accomplish. Without a compelling purpose, employees, customers, and investors alike remain confused about a company’s mission, and work off of assumptions.

Did you know that country of Bhutan measures the Gross Domestic Happiness?

Regardless of their size or nature, all organizations need a great strategy that reinforces and builds on their unique “difference that matters.” Business strategy is an evolution of an organization’s vision and mission which provide people with directions to a shared destination.

Therefore, strategy must be driven from the very top. It cannot be left to strategic planning departments or consultants. It is the fundamental job of the CEO to develop and implement strategy, i.e. to put together an agenda and put in place the organization to carry it out.

Strategy is about collaboration to mobilize the system of resources and activities that work together into mutually reinforcing parts – coordinated, internally consistent, and interlocking.

Finally, and most importantly, Strategy is about communication and reiteration. It not only needs to be implemented. It needs to be communicated and belong to everybody. This is done by translating a company’s ‘purpose’ into a set of 1-3 Non-Negotiable Principles that form the basis of a mental dialogue for everyone: “Will this decision help us be this? Will this choice help us maintain and reinforce our differentiation?”

3 Steps to Create a Strategically Focused Organization

  1. Develop a set of 3-5 NNPs around your Vision and your Competitive Advantage, i.e. your key strengths.
  2. Communicate, train, coach, repeat – until you own the space.
  3. Build purposeful employee networks to open the channels of communication internally and externally.

Benefits of a Strategically Focused Organization

  • Increased differentiation making it easier for customers to buy and rave about your services.
  • Increased productivity from faster decision cycle and improved quality of decisions.
  • Increased profitability from shorter sales cycles and customer pull.
  • Increased business stability from continuous improvement and high market relevance.
  • Increased capacity to innovate and extend business offerings to existing and new markets.
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InnoFuture helps Leaders develop Non-Negotiable Principles and can assist CEOs, HR, Learning and Marketing Managers in implementing communication systems to create Strategically Focused Organizations.

Contact Chief Inspirator: (61) 0407 66 11 30