The purpose of this section is to share with you some thoughts on how you might improve the performance of your organisation in the area of determining its future direction and the subsequent deployment of the plans that would take you towards that future.
The first part is an introduction to the second criterion, Strategy, where are explain the steps you have to follow and the information you need to implement your Mission and Vision by developing a stakeholder focused strategy. At the bottom of this page, you will find the “Assessment sheet” to help you assessing how your organisation’s strategy is developed, deployed and communicated in terms of its effectiveness. Also, you will discover what are your strengths and what you have to improve in this area.
No organisation operates in vacuum. It interacts with other interested parties, some welcome, some perhaps less so!
This group of interested parties is often described as your set of Stakeholders. Each organisation is unique and there is no single, all encompassing list that would summarise everyone’s Stakeholders in great detail. However, there are some generic groupings that are applicable to all:
Any organisation as it plans its future, should have a strategy that, within the context of its Mission, is focused on its Stakeholders. So, Strategy is based on understanding the needs and expectations of both stakeholders and the external environment, also understanding internal performance and capabilities. It is responsibility of the organisation to ensure economic, societal and ecological sustainability.
Having identified who your Stakeholders are, the next challenge is to create mechanisms and processes that will allow you to identify their current and future needs and expectations.
At the simplest of levels, gathering this data will help inform you during your planning process on what to Start, to Stop and to Continue.
There is a range of tools and techniques that an organisation can use to help it identify the present and future needs of its Stakeholders, for example: Surveys, Focus Groups, Scenario Creations, Benchmarking and SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).
The excellent organisations set clear goals and objectives for innovation and refine their strategy in line with innovation achievements.
The EFQM Excellence Model, with its focus on taking a Stakeholder approach to management, can help an organisation concentrate on the vital few pieces of information it needs rather than risk drowning in data.
Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the clear linkage between how an organisation could take the results of its performance and planning its future direction. Knowing what your current performance level is, how it compares with past performance, how it compares in relation to your competition and best in class is a powerful input to any debate on your organisation’s future direction.
Whoever is involved in the development of your future plans (it depends on the size of your organisation) it is at this stage that the information gathered from your Stakeholders and other sources is converted into a tangible strategy for moving forward.
The strategic plan should include information on what is expected to be achieved, the resources necessary to deliver it, the timescales for completion, the key processes involved, clarity on the ownership of specific components within the strategy and the costs and benefits expected.
The Balanced Scorecard is a useful tool for helping to develop the strategy further, helping the decision maker(s) ensure a holistic view of the business and take into account all Stakeholders' needs.
How do you deploy your plans for the future throughout the organisation?
Having identified the future direction and desired end state, an organisation needs to have a way to deliver this end state. Excellent organisations achieve this by taking a Process Management view of the world rather than one based on a traditional functional approach. Firstly they establish their key processes. Typically these are the ones that deliver value to the external customer and other identified Stakeholders. They will reach agreement on the vital ingredients required to help ensure the success of each of these key processes. These vital ingredients are often called Critical Success Factors.
Excellent organisations establish frameworks for managing these key processes. The framework will need to be reviewed regularly to make sure that it is still "fit for purpose". Allowing for sector specific issues, one might reasonably expect the framework to be reviewed at least annually through a process involving senior executives, process owners and others with knowledge about the various processes.
Having determined the future direction based on a Stakeholder focused approach, and identified the key processes and Critical Success Factors, the next challenge is to make sure everyone in the organisation understands the direction, the reasons why, plus their own roles in the future.
Communication of the plans for the future is an important factor in being successful and Excellent organisations recognise that it is not enough simply to send, for instance, e-mails to everyone, or post a letter to employees’ homes.
In Excellent organisations, communication of the plans for the future is recognised as a three way process: top down, bottom up and sideways.
Excellent organisations use a number of tools and techniques to help them communicate the plans for the future. At the same time they make them relevant and meaningful to their people by converting them to specific objectives linked to the tasks that individuals and teams perform. It is important to align people in order to maximise their contribution. The strategy has to be communicated with Stakeholders too.
Probably the three most widely used tools and techniques at the moment for converting plans into cascaded objectives in a linked and integrated manner are:
So, the strategy is deployed in a systematic manner to achieve the desired set of results, balancing short and long term objectives.
Click here to access the Strategy Assessment Sheet. This Assessment Sheet is in PDF format, you can fill it in as a form, save it or print it.