Aligning Corporate Mentality With Strategy

How can corporate mentality be honed to embrace strategy?


So you've got the perfect strategy. You've taken into account everything: consumers, shareholders, business growth and more. You know that, according to McKinsey, up to 70% of business strategies fail. But you're going to avoid it this time right?

Don't be so sure. Even if you've taken into account all the external factors, there are always issues coming from within the business that could trip you up. If your workforce are not on board with your strategy, no matter how perfect it is, it's still likely to fail. Corporate mentality is instrumental to successful business growth. So how can you encourage a corporate mentality that embraces new strategies, innovation and general change? We asked the experts:

Robert Cochanski Rodriguez, Director of Strategy for Cummins’ Components Business Unit

I think most organizations need more managers that constantly ask themselves and their teams: Is what we are doing here really advancing our strategy? What should we do more of, and what should we stop doing? I think that this simple filter would help.

Bob Kermanshahi, Head of Strategy at Siemens Real Estate Americas

Creating and fostering a 'Speak-up Culture' is instrumental to embracing new strategies and innovation. Any person within the corporation should feel at ease to share their ideas and thoughts without the fear of repercussion. Instead, openly sharing and crossing org. boundaries should be the norm. The best ideas come from cross – functional teams sharing and collaborating. A successful corporation in this space will have programs to train their leaders to encourage their team members to speak-up and acknowledge them for doing so. I firmly believe - The worst idea is one that is never shared.

David Wittenberg, Director of Financial Strategy at World Vision US

It generally has to start with leadership's desire to find better strategies when their current approaches and practices are wholly insufficient in meeting the demands of today's competition.

Nick Halla, Impossible Foods’ Chief Strategy Officer

There's always the challenge of looking at a sunk cost as a sunk cost and really thinking 'what is the best way forward from here?' When there's a lot of momentum building, it's hard to change direction, and I think this is where a lot of large company’s stumble. When you have a successful business and then the market starts changing, but all the momentum you built is in the direction you're already going, it can hard to change trajectory. Companies need to really look at what the reality is today, where it is going tomorrow, and what the best strategy going forward is, which is much more challenging to do.

Jo Clancy, Senior Strategy Analyst & Innovation Lead at the Transport Accident Commission

1. Leaving behind the focus on a 'business case' with fully assumed 'benefits' articulated for every initiative or a new idea. Instead, have other more flexible ways for your people to obtain seed funding to experiment and try new things. There should still be a focus on objective measurement, but different measures to those traditionally sought in business cases like ROI, revenue and or cost indicators etc. Instead, focus more on customer engagement and uptake measures in the early phases.

2. Build in a focus on organizational learning in these seed initiatives so that if they don't hit these customer measures. Ask yourself 'why not?', as it can be really valuable as you seek the next seed initiative that could ultimately be successful.

3) Embrace risk management in these seed initiatives - use early experimentation to test risk in small scale and work out which risk mitigation treatment works the best. This is invaluable if you then want to scale the initiative being fully informed (and being able to communicate this to others) about the risk and reward you are anticipating at scale.

Follow the debate and see Robert, David and Nick at our Chief Strategy Officer summit in San Francisco, May 7 & 8. 

Happy workforce

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