I joined two groups on LinkedIn – one for general business opportunities and one for executives. Since most of the entries in both groups are advertisements for services I decided to use it to spread the word about the value design plays in the success of any company. I did receive two responses from one thoughtful gentleman and have decided to publish our dialogue. My comments are in black and his are in blue.
This Post will be used to share questions that are posed to me and my responses to them.
Beyond Strategy! The closest thing to a Silver Bullet in improving performance is Business Blueprints.
Strategy alone can not take you where you need to go. The design of each business must factor in the goals it has set and the strategies it wishes to execute. Goals that can not be reached and strategies that can not be executed are harmful to the entire organization.
Design is the key to success, not strategy. 80% of performance problems can be tied directly back to a poor design. This is true with businesses, processes and products. Go to my website at http://www.stankirkwood.com and see the top 10 common Business Pain Points that can be addressed with a set of Business Blueprints™. You can also request a presentation of the system we created to address business design issues at http://www.businessdesignconcepts.com.
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Plan you work and work your plan!
Business Design is much more than creating a plan and then executing that plan. Probably every large business that has failed had annual (business) plans as well as strategic plans.
The progression is: establish goals and identify desired strategies; design markets to support those goals; design processes to support the markets; design an organization to execute the processes, and design systems to support all of the above. The overall design must be able to execute the desired strategies. Then you create the implementation plan and execute the implementation plan. After the design is implemented it must be executed. An execution plan must be created and executed.
In theory I agree, however I’ve been associated with too many businesses that can’t get out of their own way due to the weight of the planning process. And that process allows too many to forge their own agendas, diluting the resources to simply move from “A to B”.
I sat in too many senior management planning sessions just mumbling on how we were able to make the simple overly complicated. And generally, once a process document was crafted, the senior most managers went on their way, comfortable in knowing their job was done! Never did it occur to them that outside of making sure their board meetings notes were put in lock step with the plan, did they ever think they actually had to work that plan themselves! That’s why most major companies fail miserably when it comes to a plan.
I was cleaning up some emails and reread your message to me. You hit on several problems in your response: 1) the weight of a planning process; 2) covert agendas; 3) making the simple complex, and 4) lack of commitment or understanding on the part of senior management on their role in the implementation of a plan.
Each one of those issues does cause problems in many companies today. If a company were to go through the Business Blueprinting™ process the first three issues would be immediately addressed. The process itself is intentionally designed to deliver maximum impact with minimal effort required by the senior management team. The entire process of documenting the design of a company, analyzing that design to determine whether the company’s goals can be achieved and strategies executed and then redesigning the business to ensure success only takes eight days of our clients’ time. It takes us 8 – 10 weeks, but only eight days for our clients.
During the gathering of company and competitive environment information agendas become apparent. Why? Because our goal is “Total Business Performance”. We are looking for what is necessary for the business as a whole to be successful. As Dr. Farson suggested: “Leaders have to become designers and designers need to become leaders”. In actually we do the design with the input from the leaders. Our design is actually a recommendation which the leaders need to agree upon. It is exactly the same role an architect has in designing a house. S/he would gather important information from the prospective home builder and then design a house to meet those requirements.
We do the same in business – which leads to your third point about complexity. Businesses are complex. The challenge is to simplify them as much as possible and we are able to do that. Basically all businesses are the same. Certainly their products and services vary and how they do their work varies but the foundation is the same. For instance every business must create demand for its products and services (unless you enjoy being a monopoly or government agency). And every business must fulfill the demand for its products and services. We have created a common framework, common structure, common DNA, and common metrics for all businesses. We simplify the complex.
Another way we help address complexity is by documenting the design of the business. Five people can use the same word and have a different understanding of its meaning. By putting a picture in front of executives it brings them together and they share a common understanding. Those meeting rooms you spoke about are often like the Tower of Babel and they don’t even know it. We give them the common language of pictures.
Lastly, we do our best to involve the senior management team by delivering not only an updated business design but also a strategic plan, master project plan and a governance model to keep the design current (Strategic Management). The master project plan is a very strong reminder that their responsibility is not over when the meeting ends. If the CEO will take ownership of the master project plan (does not need to manage it but does need to own it) then the issue you surfaced is greatly diminished.