The inability to communicate an organisation’s strategy and vision for the future continues to challenge many Australian CEOs and is driving home the reality for shareholders and owners that in scores of companies the senior people charged with executing strategy do not have a ‘clear line of sight’ in terms of understanding how to do their jobs and deliver the corporate plan said Converge Consulting’s (Converge) Co Founders and Principals Wayne Condon and Ty Wiggins.
“If the CEO can’t succinctly articulate the business strategy in terms that are exciting and positive, then how can line managers and staff be expected to commit with enthusiasm and dedication to the realisation of the company’s long term goals and aspirations?” challenged Ty Wiggins.
Condon added, “In these challenging economic times the greatest test to their (CEOs) leadership and management skills is the ability bridge the gap between strategy, vision and results. Bridging this gap and then aligning the organisation to the strategic direction are ultimately the key factors that determine the CEO’s success or failure.”
Time is another critical factor that CEOs must contend with as the modern dynamic and competitive environment requires that that they rapidly build rapport and management confidence and expertise to deliver on the business vision and strategy
Vision and Mission are important, they need to be clear and relevant, but the true differentiation for a company is the strategy statement, what’s the plan! – This is what sets companies apart. Regrettably, too often executives assume that the fiscal business direction described in voluminous documentation . . . will ensure corporate and competitive success.
CEOs then go on to lament that ‘their’ vision and strategy should be clearly understood and that the problem lies with the business units failing to understand the direction and objectives.
Wiggins goes on to argue, “A well-understood statement of strategy aligns behaviour and creates a guiding light for performance; and when the plan is clear, then the decision-making by teams and areas within the company is so much easier and effective.
In their roles as consultants, main platform and workshop presenters, Wiggins and Condon describe an organisation as a collection of 10,000 iron filings sitting on a sheet of paper and each one represents a process, a system or an employee function or action. Scoop them up and drop them and the filings will inevitably be pointing in every direction.
The result grinding non productivity at best, chaos at worst: no different to 10,000 smart people working hard and making what they think are the right decisions for the company—but with the net result of confusion.
Engineers in the R&D department are creating a product with ‘must have’ features for which (as the marketing group could have told them) customers will not pay; the sales force is selling customers on quick turnaround times and customised offerings even though the manufacturing group has just invested in equipment designed for long production runs; and so on.
Back to the iron filings, Wiggins and Condon, then ask “If you pass a magnet under those filings, what happens? They line up!”
Similarly, a well prepared, relevant, clearly delivered and most importantly well-understood statement of strategy aligns behaviour within the business. It allows everyone in the organisation to make individual choices that reinforce one another, rendering those 10,000 employees exponentially more effective.
But therein is the problem says Wayne Condon as he summed up the dilemma for CEOs. “Far too many CEOs and senior managers in business are not achieving a fundamental goal of having their plans understood and yet most agree that it’s essential for the success of the business. Without clear understanding and articulation of the business strategy it is impossible to achieve the results the CEO and organisation are capable of delivering across financial and cultural measures.”
Since Converge Consulting commenced operations in January 2012, Wayne Condon and Ty Wiggins have worked with businesses large and small to help build their strategic statement and then to effectively communicate it to the key stakeholders so that there is successful execution.
Currently the Converge team are focussing their endeavours on crafting an intensive Strategic Planning Seminar specifically for CEOs to be conducted in Sydney before the start of the 2014-15 financial year. The purpose of the Seminar will be to assist CEOs to start the new fiscal year with a clearer vision, sharper focus, better strategy, tighter accountability and tools for comprehensive execution.
“One of the greatest management challenges of the 21st century is to increase productivity with existing resources, deliver on customer and shareholder expectations; this can’t be done without the iron fillings lining up. The best and most effective CEOs are the ones that understand and appreciate that their role is to get every employee to identify with and focus their efforts on the attainment of the individual and collective business goal” says Wiggins.