OPERATIONALIZING STRATEGY DEMANDS GREAT LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
The incorporation of the Ports of Jersey [from being a government department to a limited company] was a large-scale transformational change of people, process and technology with an emphasis on business-as-usual for airlines, shipping, boat owners and travelling public. It was a complex change which was as much about stability and continuity as it was about opportunity, growth and agility.
Communicating change is often as much about what isn’t going to change as it is about what will change, because all change needs solid foundations to build upon. Without this sense of foundation there is consternation and chaos.
These foundations are often about the fundamentals of the people, product and customers and answer the question “Why are we here?”. If consensus can be achieved on values, service and purpose then the necessary changes have meaning and resolution.
Kotter’s 8 steps provide a useful guide to operationalize strategy
1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency
2. Creating the Guiding Coalition
3. Developing a Vision and Strategy
4. Communicating the Change Vision
5. Empowering Employees for Broad-Based Action
6. Generating Short-Term Wins
7. Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change
8. Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture
Below are some practical examples of operationalizing strategy and, perhaps more useful, some examples of how to progress through Kotter’s 8 steps.
KEY ELEMENTS OF GREAT LEADERSHIP
Here are five simple ideas which can help Operationalizing Strategy
Be clear on what must change
A leader must understand and articulate the Factors Critical to Success (what must we do) and Key Performance Indicators (how will be measure and manage progress). This must be done in a way that everyone understand what this means for them.
Communicate and Engage
Build trust by being clear and consistent on key messages about things that are important to the audience. For Ports Incorporation the CEO repeated clear, consistent assurances (about job-security, pay and opportunity) throughout the 36 month programme.
Listen and Act
Engage all stakeholders to contribute to the change and shape what that change means for them. For Ports of Jersey staff were invited to contribute their ideas, as well as being empowered through HITs (High Impact Teams) to deliver quick-wins in support of the necessary changes. The Ports also undertook an annual staff survey and took the results seriously with clear action plans for any adverse feedback.
Educate and Empower
Provide the tools, techniques and training to allow people to improve themselves, the environment around them, and the products and services that result. Lane 4 said “We create the environment where success is inevitable”. For Ports of Jersey key staff were invited a “leadership group” (a series of workshops and forums which might best be described as a mini-MBA programme) and broader “Acceleration Programme” has been rolled out for all staff to learn LEAN and use that knowledge to make effective change.
Changes to organizational structure whether real (by recruitment or dismissals) or perceived (by changes in title and invitation to meetings) can send a clear signal of who’s hot and who’s not. What behaviors and opinions are valued and which are mute when it comes to making decisions. For Ports Incorporation there were two modest restructures: one before the project started with the merger of harbour and airport; and the second one year after Incorporation as the business gears-up to realize more of its commercial opportunities. What was more significant but less turbulent was who got invited to SMT meetings or the “Leadership Group” discussions.
KEY ELEMENTS OF GREAT MANAGEMENT
The ideas above are not the exclusive domain of leaders. Manages perhaps have greater day-to-day influence and impact by virtue of how they behave and what tasks they prioritize. The reality is that culture is nothing to do with written vision and values and everything to do with “the way things are done around here”.
Here are two powerful ideas by which managers can help Operationalize Strategy
Identify your customer and detail your service
Start thinking entrepreneurially about the input, process and output of your team or department. Work with your team to better understand your customer/consumer/user (which may be an internal-customer or external-customer) and the match (or mis-match) between what they want, need and value and what your provide. Many Ports of Jersey managers spent a lot of time reflecting on this, which was useful to becoming more efficient and effective and also helped embrace the broader objective of the organization becoming more commercially focused on delivering value to the customer.
Understand that as a manager your staff are your customers
There is an adage that “People join good businesses and leave bad bosses”. This makes clear that people have an expectation of their bosses and bosses who fail to recognize their obligations to staff will lose their support. The aforementioned annual staff survey identified the need for change and the leadership made clear that action was expected to address adverse feedback. In many cases this encouraged a dialogue, sometimes through meetings and workshops to negotiate change where previously issues or concerns were not addressed.
These are perhaps the most significant actions which will help Operationalize Strategy
If you aren’t sure where to start check yourself with these 6 questions. If your team cannot answer these positivity, then you have a task to do.
1. I know what is expected of me at work
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job right
3. I have the opportunity to do what I do best every-day
4. In the last 7 days I have had recognition for doing good work
5. Someone at work encourages my development
6. At work, my opinions count
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Rogers is an AMPG Qualified Change Practitioner, a PRINCE2 Project Manager, with an MBA in Management Consultancy. Past projects have included the incorporation of Ports of Jersey and Operations Change and Sales Support for RBSI and NatWest. He is a tutor/lecturer for the Chartered Management Institute and a past curator for TEDx (TEDTalks)
Web: http://www. AdaptConsultingCompany.com