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Friday, June 05, 2009

Strategy Execution During Challenging Times

According to The Forum Corp., a consulting company that helps companies with strategy execution, organizations and the managers who run them are at increasing risk of being unable to execute their strategies due in part to economy-related jobs cuts and the uncertainty they create in the workplace.

Recent research by Forum into growing companies and high-performing managers shows that there are eight areas in which top managers out-perform their on-par peers.

According to the research, top leaders:

  1. Successfully manage organizational dilemmas as well as their personal energy to maintain focus on clear goals at times of upheaval. By contrast, their on-par managerial colleagues struggle with competing and changing priorities, and burn out in environments of uncertainty and ambiguity.
  2. Assign clear roles and accountability, enabling employees to understand their jobs and giving them the power to get them done. On-par managers speak without specificity, providing vague mandates with little decision-making authority.
  3. Challenge the current state of affairs when necessary in order to ensure the organization stays on track and achieves its goals. On-par managers accept the status quo, even if policies and processes get in the way of growth.
  4. Establish a climate in which employees are confident to act on ideas, and feel like they are important to the organization's success. On-par managers fail to provide recognition and connection, discouraging employee loyalty and 'above and beyond' behavior.
  5. Make the organization more responsive and agile by incorporating non-traditional, non-hierarchical, networked, and flexible management processes and structures. On-par managers, by contrast, overplay the authority card, relying solely on a traditional command-and-control approach that limits the organization's responsiveness to critical new opportunities in uncertain times.
  6. Manage the dilemmas presented by fluid situations by adjusting plans in response to changes while staying focused on overall strategic intent. On-par managers forget to flex, staying set in their plans and ignoring changing market conditions.
  7. Actively encourage experimentation to drive learning -- even in a down economy -- and recognize that experimentation and innovation will include failures. On-par managers inhibit innovation, failing to distinguish between poor performance and appropriate risk-taking and innovation.
  8. Have a profound curiosity about their customers and the markets in which they compete, not only understanding their customers' needs but also realizing which are being met and which are not. On-par managers fail to cultivate customers, neither understanding, nor seeking to understand, their customers' needs.

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