The Real Value of Strategic Planning
Creating an environment that doesn’t become “us versus them”
When implementing a strategy, it is really important to creating an environment that doesn’t become “us versus them.” However, that is often easier said than done, especially in large companies.
For several years, I worked in IT Procurement for a company that grew by acquisition. Prior to starting with the company, within a five-year period, it had moved their corporate headquarters from California to NY and completely replaced their executive staff. The original executive staff did little to interfere with the day-to-day operations of the acquired businesses. However, the new corporate staff actively sought to centralize operations and benefit from the economies of scale.
Unfortunately, the corporate strategy to centralize operations often fostered rather than avoided an “us versus them” environment. Executives made a decision and that was that, yet they couldn’t understand why so many offices resisted. For the recently acquired companies, they were experiencing several changes with new ownership and having to transfer their procurement and financial operations to the corporate office. For older companies, the changes in corporate staff and strategy seemed to happen rather quickly without any warning and completely changed the way they did business.
When implementing new strategies, a major complaint was that corporate only cared about the bottom-line. It is easy for the corporate office to see the benefits of centralized operations, but the field offices can often feel that the corporate office does not care about or understand their needs. The corporate office didn’t take into account that company culture takes a long time to change. It cannot just happen overnight. Corporate did little to work the members of each office to align them with the company’s vision so that each side could recognize the role each plays in mutually succeeding as a company. Corporate also often didn’t take the time to see things from the perspective of each of the offices. It is important to understand how they see things and what is important to them. Often, there is a disconnect between the corporate office and field offices. The field offices often saw corporate as the enemy. The desire to centralize operations made many employees in local offices fear losing their job. This caused many offices to resist the change and work against corporate strategy.
However, during implementations where there was an open line of communication and offices were encouraged to provide feedback, the process went smoothly and the field offices worked with corporate to ensure the implementations were completed successfully rather than resisting the change. When corporate approached the offices and solicited feedback, the offices and corporate worked together as a team rather than against each other. Employees are more responsive to change when there is a great company culture, open communication, and an understanding of the core values and vision.