It Takes a Team….Strategy Deployment


Strategy, leadership engagementHow well is your organization positioned to achieve intended strategic objectives?

To answer this question, leaders look both at internal factors and external factors. Operational leaders are mostly focused on internal factors but do they look deep enough?

The McKinsey 7-S framework, an organizational effectiveness model, was developed in the early 1980s by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. It is a valuable checklist to identify where an organization must change to align to a new or even existing strategy. The basic principle of the model is that all seven elements are interconnected, aligned, and a change in one area requires change in the rest for an organization to effectively achieve their strategic objectives

 The 7 Elements

 Strategy Deployment 

·        Strategy – The purpose of the business and plans for improvement

·        Structure – The organization structure, who reports to who, and how activities are divided up

·        System – Daily activities, procedures, how the jobs are completed

·        Shared Values – The norms and standards that guide employee behavior, guided by values developed mainly from their customer values

·        Skills – Core Competencies, employee competencies at all levels, and capabilities

·        Style – Leadership styles like Transformational, Servant, Autocratic. It is also the style of other groups like Engineering, Financial, Quality, Value Stream Workers, etc.

·        Staff – Employee demographics, how many employees, engagement, how they will be trained, motivated, rewarded, and supported with capabilities like Human Resources and leaders. 

To go deeper into the organization and to check the required alignment of both Hard and Soft Elements will require engagement throughout the organizational hierarchy, it takes a team. The achievement of Soft Element alignment are much more difficult than Hard Elements because of this required employee engagement and leaders alike.

In going deeper many organizations, no matter the strategy (Cost, Quality, Service, Growth), will find most of the Soft Elements are not aligned or alignment is with a previous business strategy.

Leaders will also overlook that a change in one element, especially Strategy, will require change in other elements. When an element change occurs, leaders must learn the questions to ask deeper in the organization. You can find a 7-S model check list here at Whittblog.

Executive leaders will be mainly focused on the Hard Elements in determining the purpose – the why for the business, how it will be structured, and how it will operate. They will also want to be involved in shaping the Shared Values as these are crucial in influencing all of the internal elements.

In my experience the Soft Element of Style is a good place to start as non-aligned leadership styles will prevent the other Soft Elements from being aligned. Leadership skills, at the department level, can vary significantly causing frustration for the levels these leaders are responsible for. Developing Style alignment can start with training and development in Leadership Engagement.

A recent Gallup report, State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, reveals that the two most frequent reasons U.S. workers are named manager are tenure with their company and success in a non-managerial role. But neither necessarily indicates that a person has the right talent to succeed as a manager

Going to the next level of the organization we find a key leadership position who make daily decisions about the business’s value-add products and services. Supervisors, who are mostly self taught, but also ill-equipped in making required flow and quality decisions, within a fast paced environment, because of inadequate support and development. These are key people but they are usually not engaged with improvement actions taking place within their four walls of responsibility. When their Skills are not aligned, do the tactical actions survive as intended? Is action rework causing wasted time? Align the Skills of these key positions with training and development in, how to improve outputs, Value Stream Mapping, Gemba Walks, Process Cells, and Standard Work. Supervisor behaviors will change to being more engaged and results will happen faster.

It takes a Team.

Deeper in the organization are the value stream workers. We find they are mostly relegated to the needed but menial tasks of the value stream. When leaders do not go deep enough in aligning Skills with the strategy it is because they fail to notice the talents these workers walk through the door with everyday. One of the key steps in Strategy Deployment is implementing improvement solutions. The amount of resources and time required to determine solutions, executing solutions, making some adjustments, and finally continuously improving can be overwhelming for the small numbers of people who have been trained in improvement Skills. What if these Skills were developed within the talented value stream workers? This would increase improvement resources and less mistakes would be made during execution. Skills like problem solving, 5s for Strategy, SMED (Setup reduction), Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) will enable employees to become part of and contribute to strategy deployment. Enabling provides the link to engagement which results in needed momentum towards achievement.

Part of the Hard Elements is Structure. A value stream worker structure of Autonomous Team is conducive to an increase in Strategy Deployment contribution. An organizational structure of Autonomous Teams will provide the needed engagement and additional resources for effective tactical actions implementation. Leaders at the department level, including Supervisors, and the Value Stream Workers are the key positions in supporting and developing this type of structure. Training in Autonomous Teams will be required before implementation of this proven structure.

It takes a Team.

Strategy Development and Deployment is a key process for any organization. Do it poorly and the organization suffers. All of the organizational internal elements must be aligned and only investing time and resources to the Hard Elements limits the organization in their ability to effectively meet their objectives. It takes a team for successful strategy deployment.

Lean Teams USA

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