3, Strategy Bridge
Short Description - A recommended pre-workshop reading.
The following information is provided to familiarize Strategy Bridge workshop participants with the terms used and the rationale for dialog around each of the five (or sometimes six) core elements. A handout will be provided to participants during the workshop to expand on these short descriptions. Sometimes a sixth element, Goals, is discussed during the Strategy Bridge workshop.
A rich description of the near current situation, sufficient enough that systemic implications can be deduced with reasonable accuracy.
The scenario is difficult to describe unless the organization's shared vision has been articulated well. The scenario, as it is used in this technology, normally describes each vision component (elements of the UHS - environment/culture, leadership/management, people/skills, information/technology, organizations/alignment) with respect to current status. It enables people in the organization to agree on "how things are now" systemically. Often, dysfunction between people and departments result in conflict because people see things differently. Seeing the scenario (written or unwritten) differently is a major cause of dysfunction and conflict. When the "boss" sees things through a rose colored lens, for example, and others see things to be rather bleak, the alignment element "scenario" is aligned to a VERY LOW DEGREE indeed.
People of goodwill may often see things differently with little difficulty. To prevent unwarranted dysfunction, alignment procedures demand that a forum enable an open dialog of those differences. Aligned scenarios enable people to begin a change process from the same platform rather than varied launch points. This is a very significant concept. If change is a journey, beginning from the same platform will enable the journey to be taken together, and is essential for supportive relationships along the way. If people begin at different places, convinced they are correct and others are wrong, they will not be supportive of each other as the journey unfolds.
The strategy section of the alignment structure is designed to answer the question "how" will we make this journey from here to there together. Scenario is an essential platform for strategic development because it adds definition to the status of the "here and now."
A potential danger in scenario development is that if everyone sees things the same, unseen threats may not be identified. Smart scenario development then, is not a matter of everyone seeing everything the same, but rather in agreeing that the "window" has specific upper and lower limits. Everything within view is possible. Parts of the window may, and usually are, more likely to be true than others.
By using this "window" approach, people in an organization can offer their best opinions without having them discarded. Their contribution to the planning and decision-making process is valuable, and remains a viable alternative in establishing limits.
New courses of action.
An initiative is simply a new course of action. It may be a new product, a new service, a new tactic, a new standard, or anything else that is new. By their very nature, initiatives may be short lived, or they may become long-term. Initiatives are one element in the strategy weave that addresses the "how we get from here to there" question.
Some initiatives stop or discontinue a program or process that may have been in existence for years but has outlived its value. Stopping something that is part of the fabric of an institutions culture is an initiative because it is "new."
Advantages or Benefits (Sometimes also referred to as Tactics).
Ideas or plans that, if successfully implemented, will likely provide a competitive advantage in a defined situation.
The dialog surrounding this element may include both current advantages we have as an organization, and advantages we will create by pursuing a specifically designed course of action. The later case links the described advantages and benefits to those potential courses of action.
Advantages and the benefits linked to them may be difficult to determine as discrete from other alignment elements. Advantages may be short-lived, or long-term. Advantages define "how" the strategy will get an organization to its destination - its Vision. Often, this element is best defined by meeting external (and internal) customer needs.
The features defined as part of the Products and Services element are often a gateway to understanding potential advantages. If a feature, for example, is stated as "100% IBM compatible," then the advantage to be achieved is that IBM compatibility will provide a competitive advantage. In this sense a feature, advantage, and benefit are clearly linked.
Often advantages become such a part of the fabric of an organization culture that they are no longer recognized as such. The "promote from within" policy, for example, is designed to create an advantage. It often provides the competitive advantage in attracting people to an organization initially, and it creates an automatic competitive advantage externally for the organization as well. People that ascend to the top position will be recognized as successful by the time they arrive there. This is not to suggest that a "promote from within" policy is good or bad. It has both advantages and disadvantages just like any other policy.
Often this element evolves to an organization's Standards ( an element discussed later). Potential Advantages that have reached long-term stability have become standards. It is difficult to determine in some cases one from the other. The importance in determining one from the other is simple, however. In a major change effort, an examination and change of tactics (for example) will likely meet with less resistance than an examination and change of organization Standards.
It is also appropriate to try new and different tactics when trying to modify old organizational Standards, or create new Standards. Because tactics are temporary or transitional in nature, people can forgive trial and error failure in the tactical arena long before they can forgive the breech of an organizational Standard. As part of the strategy weave, the alignment category that deals with "how we get from here to there," tactics may be one-time attempts to get desired results.
The only acceptable manner or criteria by which something will be judged as successful.
Standards enable the measurement of successful compliance. If the standard is met, the item can be judged successful; if the standard is not met, the item can be judged unsuccessful. Standards can and do exist for products and services provided to external customers. This is a popular Total Quality Management target for improvement. Standards are also appropriate for throughput in an organization and generally enhance efficiency. Typical throughput standards include acceptable software applications, furniture purchases for specific job classifications, space requirements for specific job categories, and eligibility criteria for stock ownership.
Standards may be set in the form of performance metrics. Certainly, 100% client satisfaction is an appropriate standard to set and achieve. If there is an effective method for determining client satisfaction through a performance metric, the Standard can be set and achieved -- it then becomes a tangible.
Products and Services.
The result of effort in the form of something tangible for a product, and intangible for a service. (The two are normally indivisible in a delivery mix.)
As stated earlier, external missions are determined by what the external customer is willing to pay to receive. This payment is manifest in exchange for products and services. A service without a connected product is akin to a favor. Repeatedly performed, a service without a product becomes part of the organization's culture. Typically, in the absence of a clear and needed product for which the external (or internal) customer is willing to pay, the service is placed in jeopardy of loss.
In most bureaucratic situations, unconnected products and services are the target of "trim" initiatives. Budget cuts prevent retaining products and services that may be essential because they are not well connected and clearly tied to a viable customer willing to pay to have those services rendered. A service rendered ought to have a tangible associated with it, even if the product is an after action report.
Copyright 1992 Leadagement Technologies, Inc. -- All rights reserved.
92/12/31 - Revised 1997