Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Secrets to a Successful Strategy Execution: Team

Team Work from the Diamond to the Board Room

The article I choose to review for my last blog is The Secrets to a Successful Strategy Execution.  The article does a nice job of applying three simple principles to the flow of information.  The first being everyone has a good idea of the actions or decisions of which he or she is responsible.  The second being important information about the competitive environment gets to headquarters quickly.  The final is once made, decisions are rarely second guessed.  These are the first three, but the most important when evaluating the seventeen traits.  Most notable these three translate from my experience of playing baseball to working in the political/governmental sector.

First to have a successful baseball team you have to know what you are responsible for on the team.  From little league to college baseball we were always taught to ask ourselves the question, "what am I going to do if the ball is hit to me?"  On offense we were always taught to be aware of the situation of each inning, of each game.  Did we have to get a runner over to second base with no outs.  Would we have to hit the ball to the right side of the field to ensure we could achieve the purpose of the team.  Comparable speaking this is not a different principle working for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.  Every week we have a senior staff meeting.  Our boss is going to grill us on our responsibilities for different projects that are going on.  Instead of hitting the ball to the right side, or knowing what to do when the ball comes our way, we need to know what were are going to do on a specific relay project.  The question has to be prepared for that meeting how do we fit into the teams objective.     

Second to have a successful baseball team you have to know what the other teams tendencies are to compete against them.  In the baseball world we call this having an effective scout.  Information that would be helpful to the managers and the leaders of the team would be information such as, does the pitcher we are facing throw a curve ball when he is ahead in the count.  Furthermore does the team we are facing like to bunt, do they like to steal bases, do they pitch inside.  There is so much information in baseball, and every game and day is different.  The same holds true in my current position.  You want to know about competing water companies, are they looking to expand, do they enough money invested in their capital, are they looking to fold, etc.  This information whether on the baseball diamond or at PWSA is vital to the successful implementation strategy by management.

Finally, once decisions are made, they are rarely second guessed.  If you are in a game that is tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the ninth, and you have your clean up hitter to bat.  You give them signal by the third base coach to bunt the runner to third to ensure victory, and he decides to swing away.  This is an example of second guessing the decisions of management.  The same could happen at PWSA.  If a direction is made my our Executive Director on a interconnection project, and he directs senior staff what our walk away point for negotiations.  Say our senior staff doesn't "bunt" but decides to swing away.  That is a lack of discipline that could hurt the effective strategy that was put in place.      

In close, you can have an effective strategy, but without buy-in on these three critical points you will not have successful implementation.  My experience from baseball, to politics, to government administration has put me on winning and loosing teams.  The good ones share, help each other, and are disciplined to their role on the team.  You have to take these things one pitch, one inning, and one game at a time.  Most notable it can be a baseball game, a project at PWSA, or something in a different organization; but without these three elements your "team" will not be moving forward together for a common purpose and goal.         

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