Strategy /

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Authors: Dr. Awele Ohaegbu and John Eni-Edom

A retreat is a meeting unrestricted by traditional approaches and routines to create an atmosphere that addresses overarching concerns, discussions, strategic planning and creative thinking. In other words, it is used to handle issues otherwise limited during regular business meetings.
Retreats enable a shared understanding of organisational needs, opportunities, and issues. It promotes a sense of unity, effective teamwork and mutual respect. Proper planning is necessary to achieve productive retreats. It is noteworthy that one single retreat is most unlikely to solve, recognise or determine opportunities. However, it is strongly recommended that the main issue to be addressed at every retreat be clearly identified. Once an issue has been identified, a theme is chosen, with at least one and not more than two topics within the theme for concentration.

Rationale

There are different types of retreats, which include succession planning retreat, strategic planning retreat, organising retreat, board evaluation retreat, and orientation retreat. In the real sense, employees look forward to retreats either with excitement or disdain. At best, it is an opportunity for renewal, refocus, and team building. At worst, it is just another “dull” few days of many talks or extended meetings.
To make your retreats more effective, there is a need to work with a strategic planning group on the outcome from the beginning. The goal is not to achieve a specific outcome, but to develop a focus that will guide you toward achieving the retreat’s objective(s).

At H. Pierson, we deploy visual thinking tools to aid organisations reach a shared picture of the future quickly. Click on the button below to download strategic retreat brochure

NAVIGATION

Before the retreat, endeavor to provide participants with the necessary data and insights required to make informed decisions during the sessions. These can include financial performance and forecasts; market performance; external market data; information on your competition; and customer analysis.

Depending on the type of retreat, it may be imperative to do a strategic analysis of what it is now, where you want to get to, and how to get there effectively. Also, it could be to foster a collective vision, create a common framework, develop goals and objectives, deal with conflict sources, resolve entrenched challenges, and orient new staff.

DOS AND DON’TS

Draw positive energy from physical and psychological distance from the office. Relax the rules, suspend formal boundaries! Have some fun. Informality and humour are tools for creating engagement. Involve professional firms in planning your retreat. These firms will help plan, develop, and set realistic goals with expectations from a neutral point of view. If there is a need to get an expert facilitator within the identified theme, be sure that with a professional firm, the sole interest is in achieving a successful retreat.

Do not presume the retreat as a reward or make an individual’s problem a group issue. A retreat is neither meant to fulfill a clandestine agenda nor expressly improve morale. If the retreat organiser does not intend to act on the suggestions of participants, then it may turn out to be a poorly executed one, achieving little results in the long run.

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These are the top 5 strategic initiatives HR leaders are prioritizing heading into 2023. To help HR leaders better manage and lead during these times,


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According to research published by Harvard Professors Robert Kaplan and David Norton (2008), the rate of strategy execution failure in businesses ranges from as high as 60% to 90%. Many organisations will fall short of their goals, especially when there are disruptions in the business environment within which they operate.

However, there are opportunities to set self apart and lead organisations to success, through execution acceleration and moving from a reactive to a proactive approach. The following pillars should be in place to successfully implement your plans; a clear strategic vision, the right people and culture, accountability and enterprise performance reporting.

A Clear Strategic Vision

“If you do not know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.” —Yogi Berra

Properly articulating a vision is vital for any business, particularly in a fast-paced and rapidly evolving sector. A poorly crafted and unclear vision statement will most likely lead to poor execution. Hence, a vivid vision is critical to successfully executing the strategic plan. The vision statement should clearly define unique values, success definition, and destination. It must achieve strong human connections within the organisation in order to be assured of its successful execution.

One way of getting your employees on board with the vision is to deploy The Visualisation Approach. This process entails the use of stories and visual comprehension modes to achieve a deeper connection to the vision. This approach increases group internalisation and follow-through by explicitly connecting the strategic intent to the desired execution outcomes.

Do you need to activate your vision or strategy? You can book a free consultation with us.

The Right People and Culture

“44% rank aligning the implementation of strategy to company culture as the toughest challenge.” – Cascade (2020)

Better execution starts with successfully activating strategy into the culture, yet most organisations do not usually see the line between culture and strategy execution. Even where they do, they are unable to achieve the desired impact on execution.  In truth, the successful execution of a strategy ultimately depends on individual members, especially key managers. Therefore, aligning strategy with learning and internalization, managing, measuring, and rewarding people is critical to effective strategy execution. Today’s management must put strategy activation, a strong company culture, employee competence, and experience as a priority. Otherwise, the consequences will be reflected in the strategy’s execution.

H. Pierson provides a powerful tool for aligning the culture, energies, and talent of your employees towards achieving your organization’s strategic objectives. Our Strategy Activation and Cascading Solutions close the gap in strategy development. Download our brochure.

“The ability to make good decisions regarding people represents one of the last reliable sources of competitive advantage since very few organizations are very good at it.”—Peter Drucker

Accountability and Enterprise Performance Reporting

Who in the organisation is responsible for tracking the progress of specific strategic initiatives?
How do you ensure updates are on time and accurate?
Frequently, strategic initiatives fail because no one is held accountable for their progress. When a team or multiple individuals are the “owners” of an initiative, there is no one clear-cut accountable party.

The accountability and reporting process can be broken into data collection, data analysis and reports. Data collection is the process of collating information from disparate places into one system, to enable your analysis and decision-making with as much information as possible. Data analysis entails the examination of data to learn more about the story, with the use of data visualisation to increase comprehension through charts, grids, colour-coded icons, heat maps, dashboards etc. It helps to identify what is on and off-target, as well as what is needed to adapt into existing plans based on emerging observations. Reports help to distribute findings so that team(s) can review and discuss them for decision-making purposes.

Enterprise Performance Reporting is essentially about organising performance data, so that grey areas can be quickly identified within the execution process, track improvements, and ultimately foster accountability and execution success.

Through our 30+ years of experience working with clients across multiple sectors, we know what it takes to overcome challenges in the execution of your corporate strategies. This is achieved by fully deploying our proprietary tools and techniques that drive firm-wide strategy execution.

 

Author: H.Pierson’s Strategy Team

References

Kaplan, R.S., & Norton, D.P. (2008). The Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage. Massachusetts: Harvard Business Press

Team, C. (2020, March 13). 51 Strategy Statistics and 3 Key Lessons to Help You Succeed. Retrieved from Cascade: https://www.cascade.app/blog/51-strategy-statistics

Thiru, T. (2020, February 19). How to Bridge the Gap between Vision and Execution. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/02/19/how-to-bridge-the-gap-between-vision-and-execution/?sh=24f6e5e63548


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Collectively, we have spent over 40 years researching this question. Our research on innovation styles identifies and examines the different preferences and roles people take on when pursuing innovation. By understanding this concept, organizations can better identify where specific people are needed and who should work together to generate new breakthrough ideas.

Our latest study relies on data collected between October 2006 and January 2021, across as many people in as many organizations as possible. Over 100,000 people — 112,497 to be precise, with nearly equal parts men and women — responded to the call, and we continue to collect data every day. Respondents came from 84 countries and work in a wide variety of companies and industries, including Microsoft, ArcelorMittal, Boston Symphony Orchestra, NASA, United Way, and Harvard University (and Harvard Business Review!).

Each respondent told us about what they like to do and what they do well when they solve problems (and what they do not like or do not do well). These answers revealed an individual’s preference for one of four unique innovation styles, each of which maps onto a distinct phase of a four-stage innovation process. Each style has a role to play in your organization, starting with finding new problems (generators), thoroughly defining problems (conceptualizers), evaluating ideas and selecting solutions (optimizers), and implementing selected solutions (implementers).

All four styles are necessary for innovation. Understanding which employees fall into which style enables an organization to manage their innovation efforts more effectively. However, in our experience, most organizations are lacking in some innovation styles — particularly generators — and we will be providing steps to help overcome this deficiency.

The Four Innovation Styles Defined

Generators 

Find new problems and ideate based on their own direct experience. For them, physical contact with, and involvement in, the real-world alerts them to unresolved gaps and inconsistencies — problems that might be worth addressing as opportunities and possibilities. However, generators only find these problems at a high level; they do not necessarily gravitate towards articulating a clear understanding of a problem’s specifics or its potential solutions.

Across all organizational levels, generators are rare. Overall, just 17% of our sample were generators: 19% of executive managers, 18% of middle managers, 15% of supervisors, and 16% of non-managers. This means that, unless leaders are deliberate about including generators on teams, they may not be represented at all. Generators are perceptive of the world around them, and initiate and proliferate opportunities. So, a lack of generators makes it more likely that an organization will miss opportunities for valuable change. Given the importance of cognitive diversity in groups, this is a potential detriment to innovation performance.

Conceptualizers

Define the problem and prefer to understand it through abstract analysis rather than through direct experience. Like generators, they like to ideate; but in contrast they prefer to model the problem clearly — integrating the various parts, relationships, and insights together — which can then be used as the basis for one or more solutions.

Conceptualizers are the second rarest innovation style, making up only 19% of the sample. They are relatively evenly represented across most occupational levels, with 17%, 18%, and 17% of non-managers, supervisors, and middle managers as conceptualizers, respectively. But more

executives — 25% percent — are conceptualizers. This likely reflects the specific cognitive demands for that role: executive managers must strategically plan for more distant goals, rather than execute more tactical tasks.

Optimizers 

Evaluate ideas and suggest solutions. They prefer to systematically examine all possible alternatives in order to implement the best solution among the known options.

Optimizers are most common among lower occupational levels (27% of non-managers) and decrease with a rise in occupational levels (23% of supervisors, 22% of middle managers, and 20% of executives). Because most solutions are implemented at lower levels of hierarchy, it makes sense that occupations at these levels are more likely to engage in optimization.

Implementers

-Put solutions to work. They enthusiastically (and sometimes impatiently) take action, experimenting with new solutions before mentally testing them and then make adjustments based on the outcome of these experiments.

Implementers are the most common innovation style, representing 41% of our survey respondents. Thirty six percent of executive managers are implementers, but are about as common among non-managers (41%), supervisors (44%), and middle managers (43%).

Challenges for Organizations

Two findings should stand out to managers. First, innovation styles are, generally, not evenly distributed. It is striking that only about 17% of individuals in our study were found to be generators while 41% were implementers. Second, people tend to sort into different occupational roles and levels of management based on their innovation style. For instance, generators are predominantly found in non-industrial occupations and conceptualizers are most common in strategic planning and organizational development.

These two findings contribute to the same problem: the organizations and teams you are working with are likely to lack the right balance of styles and be insufficiently cognitively diverse. If cognitive differences are unevenly distributed (e.g., there are more implementers and fewer generators) — and if people will choose roles and organizations based on their innovative style preference (e.g., generators are more likely to become artists and teachers, not executives and engineers) — we would expect most organizations and teams to lack the ideal cognitive diversity for innovation.

References:

Culled from https://hbr.org/2022/10/4-types-of-innovators-every-organization-need

 


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In times of uncertain economics, organisations are forced into making or considering changes. Some opt for simple radical surgery and cut out unnecessary or redundant resources. Others try a more complex solution and restructure their operations. Both approaches are fraught with difficulty – and as we know from history, the majority of organisation changes fail to reach their objectives. Professor John Kotter at Harvard Business school identifies eight key causes, most of which pointed to a dis-connect between the leaders and employees in an organisation – the leaders had good ideas but failed to get them across effectively.

This research, along with other studies, confirms that organisations are not like machines, which can be

‘re-engineered’, but are complex social processes. Some of which are determined by structures and formal systems of the organisation, but most of which are ‘informal.

So with either approach, there are likely to be difficulties. Radical surgery leaves people feeling ‘survivor sickness’ and exhibiting lower productivity. People are displaced and disgruntled, worrying about their own future rather than focusing on the development of the new organisation. In more complex changes, people take time – often too long – to come to terms with the new realities and relationships and the main opportunity is lost.

We know from other studies that people are affected personally by change in different ways. To be successful, a change programme needs to take account of these effects and work to minimise the negative impact.

The key to success therefore lies in engaging with the informal processes, the interactions between everyone in the organisation which constitute the way the organisation actually works.


The questions

Strategies that will yield success are those that motivate and stimulate employees. We also know that the knowledge of what to do is not confined to the executive suite. More often than not, the solutions are already known, but lack the commitment to be implemented (as the GE WorkOut™ process has proven over many years). How can you involve employees in the creation of these change strategies?

Involvement of all stakeholders interests in the organisation, not just the financial shareholders’, is critical in creating a viable strategy. Pursuing an inclusive agenda that focuses on the needs of its customers, employees, suppliers and the wider community is one that has the greater chance of success. How do you create real dialogue with the stakeholders and reconcile differences that will generate that inclusive, successful strategy?

In times of difficulty we often forget that a lot of what we do actually does work. There is a danger of throwing the good out with the bad, especially when involved in surgical change. Again, research identifies that working with strengths and enhancing what works has greater success than trying to fix weaknesses and what doesn’t work. How can you identify the root of success rather than the root causes of failure?

There is always the difficult problem of engaging people and getting them committed to the future. How do you translate negative fear and apprehension into positive energy working to succeed through the troubled times?

And there is the problem of time and money – or lack of it! Many re-organisation and change processes are known to take months, if not years of concentrated effort, and a lot of resources. So, how do you manage to engage people, develop strategies and get commitment to implementation in a fast and cost effective manner?


The answers

The answers to these questions lie in engaging in whole system participation events.

The events – Appreciative Inquiry Summits, Future Search Conferences, Real Time Strategic Change, Open Space Conferences, World Café, etc – utilise systems thinking and allow everyone associated with the problem or organisation to be involved, employees and stakeholders alike. Simultaneous involvement of hundreds of people allows for exchange of ideas, gathering of strategic information, decision making and planning in a single event – or linked series – of events typically lasting 2-3 days.

By focusing on positive outcomes and best practice, participants in these events experience enjoyable ways of working that release creativity and breakthrough results. They replace the passive ‘tell and sell’ model with high levels of participation and co-creating, so generating commitment – there is no need to get ‘buy in’, the participants are the joint architects of the strategy, so they are highly committed and motivated to it. Implementation starts immediately.

For example, in one company, Appreciative Inquiry was used to conduct analysis of the total system which was completed in less than two weeks by the employees themselves. In another, a summit meeting brought together all 750 employees, the company’s leadership, and 100 customers to create a new business model – a year on, profits were up over 200 percent and absenteeism down 300 percent. In another application, IKEA simultaneously doubled sales, improved quality and cut the price 30% without cutting profit of it Ektorp range whilst making sofa shopping easier for customers, and cutting delivery times – all in a concentrated three day event involving 52 stakeholders including suppliers, executives and workers from Sweden, Canada, the U.S. and other countries, and several customers.

Fast – and cost effective – solutions. These events utilise internal experience and expertise with consultants providing the expert design and facilitation of the events themselves. Thus the consultancy cost is vastly less than traditional change consultancy where the consultants become integrated in the organisation to advise expert solutions. And the outcomes are achieved more quickly – and are more acceptable to the workforce.

Culled from hr.com


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