Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Personal Experience - Strategic Planning and Strategic Execution

As per Kaplan and Beinhocker, Strategic Planning as a process should be directed more towards ensuring that information is shared among all the top level management in a firm. This common understanding of the way industry is moving, the way competition is performing and the way the firm is operating will help managers be better prepared to take difficult decisions.

In this article, I would like to present my experience as an employee during a change in the strategy of the company.

I worked in a large MNC which operated in the software products space. This was the first job after I completed my undergraduate degree and in my initial years, I took time to understand how a company operated. I confess that in my initial 2 years, I never really bothered to get to know the strategy of our company. It was also true that our strategy wasn't really driven into every employee and discussed around coffee corners. In retrospect, I wouldn't have been surprised if it was information held by key individuals and not everyone or, it could also be the case that it was available for everyone but no one was interested to know it. Our daily activities was something of a nucleus and things involving strategy was almost peripheral and distant.
Every firm has been affected by the new wave of internet technologies and our firm is no exception. We had a change in the C-suite and I assume there must've been a Strategic Planning meeting underway. It was after this change that a new strategic change was announced.
This is the key part that I wish to explain to my readers. Strategy of the firm, which until then was a haze to everyone, suddenly became the buzz word in the entire organization of around 50,000 people. This sudden change can be attributed to the new and somewhat oversimplified strategy that the executives came up with, that everyone suddenly felt charged up to the task.
The new strategy was
Our firm will have a billion users in 4 years
This oversimplification, in my view somewhat drove innovation from the grass roots level. Everyone had the buzz word - 'Billion users' around them. They remembered this in each and every one of their daily activities, the key question being - 'Will the task done by me generate more users?', followed by the thought 'What can I do to increase the user base of our software?'. In my opinion, this dramatic change and impact of the key strategic intent has helped the firm. I am sure, now, every employee can relate their work to the direction where the company is headed. I am a strong believer in ensuring that strategy is not just the power of information of few but it should be the direction of movement of every single employee in the company.
I feel my company was able to achieve this and may well succeed.

A question to my readers is - Do you believe strategic planning and strategic execution at the executive level is enough OR do you also feel that every single employee should have a rubric of sorts that ties his / her work to the strategy of the firm?

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