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Bruce Holland

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Bruce.Holland@virtual.co.nz



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The Case For Including Tops, Middles and Bottoms In Your Strategy Development

In my last Strategic Snippet I suggested that Directors and Top Managers should be involved together to develop strategy. In my view this is a minimum requirement.

Far deeper quality, ownership and understanding is available to those organisations that also involve Middles and Bottoms because these are the people who will implement the strategies.

Quality

When I suggest Middles and Bottoms be involved most Directors and Tops don’t believe these people can add value to the process; however, in my experience the ability to think strategically is widely distributed across the organisation and has little to do with where people sit on the organisation chart. Also, they don’t see how it could be achieved. Their image of the strategy process is of a small group of senior people struggling through loads of finances and analysis to try to determine the vision; they don’t see how 50 or even 100 people could be involved in such a process. However, my solution is to run a very different strategy process with lots of energy and creativity where everyone can be involved and contribute. The different perspectives are shown in the following chart.

Perspective Mainly internal Mainly External
Mainly strategic CEO & Tops Board
Mainly operational Middles & Bottoms Advisors

Ownership.

Far deeper ownership is available to those organisations that also involve Middles and Bottoms. I would prefer to have an 80% strategy that was 100% owned than a 100% strategy with low ownership. Sometimes, in their desire to achieve a 100% strategy, organisations bring in a ‘learned teacher’ or Guru to help them. They create loads of analysis and wads of spreadsheets that no one understands or feels any ownership of. As shown in the chart below, they end up in the ‘Learned Teacher’ quadrant, where people have low ownership of highly sophisticated strategies. When this happens there is no alternative other than to go back to the beginning and build ownership of simple processes (until people become Missionaries), then, when they are ready, they will build the sophistication themselves, ending up in the Leaders quadrant. I have found that one of the unexpected benefit of involving the Bottoms is that it forces simplicity on the Strategy Process and everyone benefits.

Understanding.

Far deeper understanding is available to those organisations that also involve Middles and Bottoms. This deeper understanding is achieved more quickly because, although the time taken to decide on the strategies is larger, the time taken in communicating the strategy (everyone has been involved so there is no need for extensive communication) is less and the implementation time is shorter (because those who are involved own the decision). The following chart shows the difference between the amount of effort taken traditionally (see the top part of the chart) compared with the effort required when everyone is involved (see the bottom part of the chart).

Involving people is the only way to achieve sufficient understanding at the level of hearts and minds. Most strategy reaches only the head. As the chart below shows, 85% is about the heart.

Regards Bruce.
Bruce Holland
Virtual Group Business Consultants
Hutt City, Wellington, New Zealand.
free phone: 0800 4 virtual or +644 570 0727 or Skype Bruce.Holland
www.virtual.co.nz
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Key words: Leadership, leadership development, leadership management, leadership training, leadership program, leadership skills.

 
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