There are three states organizations can be in and out of based on what’s happening in and around them. Often all states are happening at once in various proportions.
This state is where the change winds are light. it is often the calm in the periods between significant changes or when complex change settles back to a more normal pace. It is where typical dashboards, management reports, and balanced scorecards can be designed and implemented with management keeping an eye on early change indicators.
This state is typically in an active change period like we are going through with COVID, war, and supply chain challenges. Here, there is dynamic and real-time observance looking for events, signals, and note patterns. Once detected and oriented, decisions can be made for actions throughout the organization and the contexts it operates at the moment. Often these are imposed changes.
Planned Change State
It is where management with a clear mind can plan programs and projects from the evolution of operations incrementally to total transformations. It is often where new markets are targeted, new products/services are introduced, and mergers/acquisitions are planned for future execution involving programs and projects.
Figure 1 Strategy Links
Linking Strategy to Operations on the Easy Curve
Listed below are the categories of activities that have your operations linked to strength. They are listed in order of ease to attempt. Organizations can go way over the edge to make any of these more complicated than they need to be, so this order is advisory. It could be different for your industry, type of organization, or your culture. Keep in mind that the closer to the core of Figure 1 (operational views) and stable strategies, the easier it is to link strategy to operations. As organizations approach the outer rings of figure one, especially in the adaptive state, the more difficult linking moving strategies to operations becomes. It is essential to understand that methods, tools, and techniques help with the outer edge and handle the whole "link to strategy" continuum depicted in Figure 1.
Performance management starts with human visibility and automated notifications. It could be as simple as a standalone dashboard or as complex as a functionally integrated management cockpit looking for patterns and events in real-time.
Processes must constantly get better as customers demand a better experience, and exceptions are noted, analyzed, and dealt with within manual and automated processes. The optimization process often includes mining, visualization, and analysis. In extreme cases, advanced formulas and AI play a role. Scopes can expand to whole B2B chains.
The processes, production lines, and supply chains need to be optimized, but these results must also be dealt with in terms of quality and customer delight. It is crucial to devise ways of inspecting and getting feedback on quality. It can be manual or automated. When automating and training technology from data and experts, the complexity can get edgy.
While compliance is essential to stay active in markets and geographies, the methods are often emergent. While the rules may be evolving, the processes and constraints are continually developing as target dates loom.
As every organization has a specific risk culture, it is difficult to assess risk. While it is often easier to determine the frequency of a chance happening, the threshold for particular actions is often a challenge. The skill level of the decision-makers has to be high, steeped with deep knowledge, and often experienced with projections.
Managing a goal-led approach to delivering improvements or necessary changes is often a big challenge. Keeping everyone up to date with changes and getting all skills to collaborate equally is a big deal. Tracking change effectiveness leveraging before and after deltas is always a chore.
Knowing the right strategy for current or emerging conditions is very difficult. Often it requires deep planning to recognize patterns of opportunity or threat. Then, once detected, a bevy of analytical/simulation models usually has to test responses in uncertain situations.
Is it easy to link strategy to operations and tune tactics? I would submit that it depends on the situation and the emerging strategy. One thing is for sure. There are methods, tactics, tools, and techniques that can make it easier, faster, and more effective. Some of the blog posts listed in additional reading might help the reader. In addition, there are a couple of vendors who can help with this approach. Wizsm & Tibco.