Saturday, 24 November 2012

Why do Great Strategies Fail?

Many great strategies get conceived but fail to take off or get completed. They somewhere miss to tag along the value that was originally intended. CEO’s are constantly battling the need for innovation and strategizing on one hand and trying to balance the execution and completion on the other.

The divine principle of creation, preservation and annihilation is the basis of all strategies or innovation. If I create something then that something needs execution. What does it take to complete the conception? The leaders today walled with people who come in with strong values and experiences but are simply the souls from the other side of heaven.  Constantly there has been a barrage between the vision and execution, and the stakeholders are not inspired enough to feel the need to execute.

A certain CEO was in a mismangled mess when had to revise his projections three times in a row. He had a perfect vision which was spot on, had an excellent direction but had a serious flaw in execution. His down the line didn’t quite see what’s in it for them. His story was not clear on what the results can bring onto the table. Another problem he had was, that he inherited his top people as those who have been promoted to the level of incompetency (typical of a structured hierarchy org). Motivation is the key driver in execution, apart from set methodology, policies and procedures etc.  Susan Abbott a well known researcher  writes “nobody wants to wash a rented car”. Its as simple as that, yes we never  did it or never heard of any one washing a rented car. She says that while motivating your team see that there is a chain that ties up directly to their results. The more visible the chain is the more ownership you have from your team. She sums it up as give people the discretionary effort so that they make that particular donation that you are looking for.

The idea is one big system and the subsystems need to be aligned seamlessly within the main system.  I would see that my innovation has empowerment at its core, succeeded by execution in that order. Then I would top this up with need based policies and procedures in order repeat the cycle till the objective is achieved. If I break this down a bit, all that the CEO needs to ensure is that he provides the right environment for his ideas to take form. He has to mother the conception and the independent systems would find their powers and function within the framework of his vision.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Technovating Into Existence

Leaders with the strong discipleship of "that which worked before would work now" have contributed immensely to the tech bred niche of companies. They breathed in technology and arrived with products that were meant for one and all. The market had mixed responses but had a derisory effect in the grand scheme of things. The second best thing that happened after the light bulb could be the internet and then hordes of other inventions and then the need for patents. Patents did offer some recluse to this breed of companies but more often than not could not invoke the viral behavior that was desired. The failed manifestation of people centric sensitivity remains at the core of the problem still. 

The tech led companies make believe themselves into the thinking that a good product is set up for a success provided all conditions are constant. The management works the R&D, Marketing and HR teams to roll this out and sometimes globalize what they feel is the mother's milk for the baby. They can be spot on strategy and execution yet have negative results with the investor and market confidences. The reality  is that market does decide your share of pie and treading along the garden path to oblivion would prove fatal in the long run.

Starbucks had to close down 75% of its outlets in Australia while trying to bring in coffee into a pub sensitive segment. It had other reasons as well, later on their RCA showed lack of proper training and soft skills led the debacle. It had a good product success written all over but lacked information of  circumstances. In cricket or any game for that matter, a good player is the one that succeeds on any ground. Some prominent tennis players would say grass is good for the cows, and hard courts are not meant for them. We have but one grand champ ranked at the end of it all, the one who won on different courts.

HCL though a tech company did well in actualizing and strategizing their vision of 'Employee comes first and customer second'. They realized the importance of soft management vis-a-vis the structured old fashioned strategy and execution based technique. This company grew from a garage two decades ago to 6.5billion dollars, from scientific calculators to a multispecialty service and consulting industry. It outfoxed the recession, went ahead and bought Axon, won over the tussle with Infosys and now all set for the next one. Another example is E-bay where the HR played against policies and brought in flexible timings to their employees. They focused on issues around the employee having to run their families and on work balance so on so forth and then introduced empowerment to them. The whole company looked  good, increased productivity, operational efficiency and sent the share holders whistling back home.

Whether it is a Volcker effect for Obama's team or a Warren Buffet salivating on a good deal, the industry pundits predict the great economic depression is yet to come. They are associating pattern recognition with smartness and strategizing execution as guts. Fundamentals can be strong but it is becoming increasingly important for the recognition of patterns and sensitizing the cultural beliefs to that affect.Seemingly a renegade management practice and actioning interstitial knowledge is the de rigueur for Indian companies in the years to come.