Wednesday, April 15, 2015

You don’t need an expensive CEO to have a strategic plan!

A disruptive market can be an opportunity to create something new. As discussed in the Discovering New and Emerging Markets readings regarding "disruptive technologies," managers need to plan to learn from their plans rather than expect their plans to play out as an accurate forecast.   Applying principles of sustaining markets to disruptive markets will cause a business to fail - precisely at a time when there is so much potential to succeed. This plays along with last week's theme of not 'staying the course,' sometimes a leader needs to be far enough removed from daily details so that they can notice large-scale strategy changes such as these. If a person is too stuck in a routine or tradition, they won't be able to see the bigger picture. They may not even notice that they're suddenly in a Red Ocean.

But how does a manager also keep the perspective of a strategic-thinking leader? This topic has brought an issue to the surface which had been troubling to me, but I hadn't fully articulated before now. Many small nonprofit leaders must be both fully involved in the daily operations of the business including not only programmatic activities but also managing business and personnel. Whereas a large corporation may have the capability of hiring a President or CEO who can hire a COO to manage business while they are coming up with strategic plans, or even a large nonprofit can hire an Executive Director who might be separate from an Operations Manager. The story of Honda could be a great learning piece for a small nonprofit, because it actually demonstrates how close they came to bankruptcy, yet still managed to absolutely dominate opportunity by seizing a disruptive market. Although a manager of a small nonprofit may be overworked and bogged down by administrative details, as a leader it is their duty to make the time for strategic planning for the organization.

As stated in the article, most managers don’t have the “luxury” of endless trial and error attempts toward and exciting new path. And although there may not be data available for an unknown or new market, there is going to be some information to be used and some internal strengths or weaknesses to be assessed. For a small nonprofit with limited resources, this could be tasked to a strategic development subcommittee on the board of directors. This can usually consist of experienced business individuals from across the community who will actually be removed enough from daily operations of the nonprofit to see the bigger picture and help guide the organization to a blue ocean future. 

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