Blog Archives

Counting Down the Top 10 Viewed Posts of 2013 – 10 Thru 6

2014 is now in full swing.  Before 2013 is too far in the rear view mirror, I thought I would recap the Top 10 most viewed posts on Beyond Lean for 2013.

New followers of the blog can use this as an opportunity to read posts they might have not seen in the past.  While, long time followers can use this as an opportunity to re-read some of the top viewed posts.

This post will count down the 10th thru 6th most viewed posts of 2013.  Enjoy!

10.  Comparing Lean Principles to the 14 Toyota Principles (July 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #6 – The first part of a three part series where I compared the lean principles I learned from the Lean Learning Center to the Toyota Principles.  This post covers the first five Toyota Principles.

9.  True Mentoring (May 2012) – Previous Year Ranked #7 – This is my take on true mentoring versus fake mentoring that goes on in business today.

8. Strategy A3 Downloadable Template (April 2012) – A quick description of a strategy A3 with a link to a template that can be downloaded.

7. Guest Post: Selling Lean to People That Don’t Want It (July 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #10 – This is a post from Joe Wilson before he became a full-time author at Beyond Lean.  Joe talks about ways to sell lean to people who are not bought into the benefits of lean.

6.  Why Are Lean People Seen As Lean People? (February 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #1 – Exploring the question as to why lean people are not seen as more than just lean experts.  Looking at a process from end-to-end seems like a good business practice no matter what the role.

My next post will count down the Top 5 viewed posts of 2013.

Best of Beyond Lean in 2013

Today I am highlighting the five most popular posts written in 2013.  Then in January I will post the Top 10 posts for the year.

Enjoy and have a Happy New Year!!!!

5.  Visual Management at Home (February 2013) – A great example of a visual board used at home of a friend of mine.

4. Hoshin Planning – Catch Ball (April 2013) – A great video explaining the process of catch ball during the strategy development process.

3.  My Continuous Improvemnt: Personal Kanban 3rd Revision (January 2013) – The latest update to my evolving personal kanban for work.

2.  Guest Post: Moneyball – Hoshin Kanri (March 2013) – Chad Walters does a great job explaining strategy deployment using the movie Moneyball

1.  When Standards are in Place, Everything is an Experiment (May 2013) – Talks about the importance of setting standards and using them to understand your processes.

Have a Happy New Year!!!!

Lean Concepts are Intertwined

When working with an area, department or organization to implement lean people like to focus on implementing a specific tool or concept, but it’s not that easy.  The concepts and tools are so intertwined that focusing on one is really difficult to do.

An example would be implementing SMED (or quick changeover) across a facility.  A vast majority of the time a large opportunity for improvement is through organization, having the tools you need where you need them and knowing when and where to be for the changeover.  Immediately, other concepts that come to mind are visual management to understand when and where to be without having to ask.  Also, 5S which can help with organization and having the right tools at the right spot.  5S is also a component of visual management.

A second example is implementing strategy deployment.  There is standard work to how to cascade catchball down through the organization and it should be documented to be repeatable.  Then the strategy is usually documented on an A3 to help communicate the message and most companies use visual management to show progress to the entire organization as time progresses.

As a person working to help others implement lean, it is OK to let them believe they are only focusing on one concept to start.  Sometimes thinking about the intertwined concepts can become overwhelming.  Let the customer focus on the one concept and introduce the other concepts through the backdoor.  There is no need to call out the lean concept.  Just discuss what a way to help them solve their problem in further implementing the concept the are focusing on.

At a later date, you can show them how they have actually implemented other lean concepts successfully.  This helps build their confidence, shows further progress then what they believed and builds momentum to continue moving forward and taking more on.

Don’t get hung up on explaining all the intertwined concepts.  Delivery on the needs of the customer and it will all work out.

Hoshin Planning – Catch Ball

Last week, Beyond Lean focused on strategy deployment or hoshin kanri.  A great concept to help align the priorities for the organization during the year.  A term that appeared was “catch ball”.  This is a term to capture the essence of gaining input through discussion with the next level down in the organization.  It is a great way to get engagement at all levels of the organization and build the buy-in to what the work is for the year.

I found this great video describing what “catch ball” is.  I thought it would do a better job than I could.

Do you use catch ball in your organization or do you have a straight line drill down with objectives?

Guest Post: NBA and Jon Spoelstra

This week is Lean series week at Beyond Lean.  The blog posts will center around strategy deployment (or Hoshin Kanri).  Justin Tomac, Chad Walters, Karen Wilhelm and Tony Ferraro will be guest blogging.  This will give you different perspectives from on strategy deployment all right here at Beyond Lean.

Chad_WaltersToday’s post is from Chad Walters.  Chad is a Lean consultant and owner of Lean Blitz Consulting in Augusta, Georgia, a firm focused on continuous improvement for small businesses and sports organizations. He has run projects for the Atlanta Braves, the Salvation Army, Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Eaton Corporation, The Dannon Company, and the South Bend Silver Hawks among other companies. He has been practicing Lean and continuous improvement for over eight years, is a Six Sigma Black Belt certified by the American Society for Quality, and received his MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, where he was a member of the Kelley MBA Sports & Entertainment Academy.  You can follow Chad on Twitter @LeanBlitz.

One of the great features of genuine hoshin thinking is focusing on the future and big picture goals while moving away from some of the negative focus on resource constraints. With hoshin kanri, we set a destination, and based on our current location determine the proper path to follow to achieve our destination. Worrying about what we’re not allowed to do is what keeps us from reaching for what is genuinely possible to achieve.

While I have been labeled a “devotee of lean management” in a recent article by a baseball writer (and I most definitely am) I absolutely love creative marketing. One of my favorite and most influential books I’ve read is Marketing Outrageously by Jon Spoelstra. He is the former President of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers among other influential positions, but he is a marketing savant when it comes to driving revenue growth through creative marketing.

The following is a passage from Marketing Outrageously that has stuck with me ever since I first read the pages. Spoelstra shows that a top-down hoshin-like “What’s it gonna take to do this?” approach can have an energizing effect on a team.

~~~~~

In the late 1980s I was general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers. Even though I didn’t have the authority to draft or trade players I could call meetings with those who did. I assembled the coaches and plaer personnel managers and asked the question, “What’s it gonna take to win the championship this year?”

Logically, it was a foolish question. This was the era when Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were leading the Los Angeles Lakers to regular championships. When the Lakers didn’t win, Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics did. Lining up to cut in on the Lakers and Celtics were Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. So how stupid was my question, “What’s it going to take to win the NBA championship this year?

On paper we didn’t have a chance; in our minds, less than no chance. We were, however, a pretty good team. We had won fifty-three games the year before. Considering all this, I wanted us to think beyond what we had.

The player personnel people took the question as an insult. I could hear them thinking, “Who does this marketing guy think he is?” They fumed and grumbled for a while.

I asked the question again. “What’s it going to take to win a championship this year?”

Silence. Finally, John Wetzel, an assistant coach, said, “One thing we need to do is really improve our outside shooting. We need some guy that can come off the bench and really fill it up.”

Two shooters,” said Rick Adelman, another assistant. “When we get to the playoffs, we can’t run our fast break as much, and the middle gets clogged up. We need two reliable shooters coming off the bench.”

We talked for two hours. Head coach Mike Shuler was enthusiastic, salivating over the thought of somehow acquiring two bona fide outside shooters. We made a list of players who might be available. We came away from the meeting with assignments for each of us to start making inquiries with other teams.

Later, Rick Adelman told me, “I’ve been in a lot of player personnel meetings over the years, and this was the best. We actually talked about winning a championship and what that would take.”

Did I think we had a chance to win the championship this year? Not really. But I knew we had no chance to improve unless we set the target higher than what was comfortable.

~~~~~

Sports teams that are a mish-mash of talented players that aren’t cohesive or working together generally don’t win championships. Companies don’t consistently “luck into success” – it takes an overarching end goal and a strategic plan to get there.

So why did this meeting change the mindset of the franchise? The leader set a high goal to achieve – win a championship – and instead of saying “now go do it” to his subordinates he asked what does the team need in order to achieve it? He didn’t talk about constraints or resources, he just wanted to know what was needed in order to create a championship team.

Now that the team’s genuine needs for winning a championship were identified, the load fell on everyone’s shoulders to procure those resources, whether it was outside shooters or additional money or anything else. However, the organization was aligned to this one goal and clearly it drove motivation because all were now pulling in the same direction. If they needed to eliminate resource constraints by finding more money, they would hire more ticket sellers.

By using a hoshin kanri approach the focus for the Portland Trail Blazers changed from “here’s why we can’t” to “What is it going to take?”

Guest Post: Moneyball – Hoshin Kanri

This week is Lean series week at Beyond Lean.  The blog posts will center around strategy deployment (or Hoshin Kanri).  Justin Tomac, Chad Walters, Karen Wilhelm and Tony Ferraro will be guest blogging.  This will give you different perspectives from on strategy deployment all right here at Beyond Lean.

Chad_WaltersToday’s post is from Chad Walters.  Chad is a Lean consultant and owner of Lean Blitz Consulting in Augusta, Georgia, a firm focused on continuous improvement for small businesses and sports organizations. He has run projects for the Atlanta Braves, the Salvation Army, Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Eaton Corporation, The Dannon Company, and the South Bend Silver Hawks among other companies. He has been practicing Lean and continuous improvement for over eight years, is a Six Sigma Black Belt certified by the American Society for Quality, and received his MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, where he was a member of the Kelley MBA Sports & Entertainment Academy.  You can follow Chad on Twitter @LeanBlitz.

The book Moneyball by Michael Lewis not only lays out the top-to-bottom game strategy employed by the front office of the Oakland Athletics under team general manager Billy Beane in 2001/2002, but it also serves as a demonstration of how major philosophical and operational changes require a leader willing to stay the course during trying times and full alignment of resources to accomplishing the overarching goal.

For those who are unfamiliar, Moneyball was a paradigm-shifting revelation to the way baseball front offices evaluated and valued players – greater focus on specific statistics (on-base percentage) and valuing the concept of “not making outs,” among other things. Not only did it change the way front offices operated, but it also brought the essentially-foreign concept of efficiency to a boys’ game. The Oakland Athletics, in an effort to compete with the big spenders while on a shoestring budget themselves, employed statistical analysis with baseball players to take advantages of inefficiencies in the game. In 2011 Moneyball was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and Jonah Hill as assistant general manager Peter Brand (the name chosen by the writers when the real assistant general manager at the time Paul DePodesta wouldn’t permit his name to be used in the movie). The movie was great, but really only if you read the book first.

Lean practitioners who were also sports fans loved the entire concept of the story – it wasn’t just about doing things differently, but doing things smarter and better and bringing a cerebral approach to the game they loved. It was about change management in the face of adversity, only it happened to be in the industry of baseball.

The Athletics didn’t coin the term “Moneyball” but their overarching goal of maximizing the ratio of team victories to payroll through the use of statistics measuring team efficiency is a great example of hoshin kanri – the entire organization was aligned to the unique operational strategy to achieve this end goal of maximizing team on-field production.

In an industry where “the way it’s always been done” runs rampant moreso than any other due to the very public nature of the business, achieving organizational alignment was tough and the team’s leaders took steps to forcefully (rightly or wrongly) assure its implementation.

How did the Oakland Athletics demonstrate hoshin kanri?

  • Change management started at the top. “How baseball players are evaluated” was the change that occurred with the Athletics. They (like all other major league teams) had almost solely leaned upon scouts to evaluate players based simply on watching the players firsthand, because “that’s the way they had always been doing it.” Billy Beanewanted to change the approach to include statistical analysis, and because he oversaw the team’s scouting departmentand on-field operations it was his call. Contrast that with Peter Brand, who before being hired by Billy was a low-level advisor to then-Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro. Peter had no pull in the office, despite possessing superior education and mathematical analysis skills, so he would not have been able to influence such a monumental philosophical change.
  • “Adapt or die.” While this is quite the fatalistic view on change management, it was the philosophy Billy and the Athletics had to adopt. They had a payroll that was less than 1/3 that of the New York Yankees, so the Athletics had to go “bargain hunting” for undervalued players who featured the undervalued talents like high on-base percentages. In order for them to have a chance to compete with teams like the Yankees they had to be smarter with their dollars.
  • “Trust the process.” Billy and Peter believed in this new philosophy, and their faith was certainly tested when the team started the season poorly. They were aware that the successes would take time to arrive, and multiple tweaks to
    the process (and the process users) would occur. For example…
  • The organization’s activities had to be aligned with the overarching goals. The Athletics scouting department (including lead scout Grady Fuson) were fundamentally opposed to the idea of focusing on statistics instead of what they saw from players with their own eyes. The tension between the two philosophies became so heated that (according to the movie) Billy and Grady had an altercation that led to Grady getting fired. (Adapt or die, indeed.) While scary, it is important for all process users to buy into the change.
  • “So what’s our problem?” One of the favorite Lean tools is the “Five Whys.” When we encounter a problem, we should follow up our analysis of the cause by asking “why” five times. Billy did the same thing, continually asking “So what’s our problem?” to get down to the root of the issues.
    “We aren’t winning.”
    “So what’s our problem?”
    “We aren’t scoring enough runs.”
    “So what’s our problem?”
    “We aren’t getting enough guys on base.”
    “So what’s our problem?”
    “We are making too many outs?”
  • The ultimate poka-yoke. Billy and Peter had specifically signed former catcher Scott Hatteberg to play first base (because of his high rate of reaching base as a hitter), yet manager Art Howe refused to play him, instead opting for young first baseman Carlos Pena. Art Howe had not bought into the new philosophy. How could Billy make absolutely sure that Art would start Hatteberg going forward? Just get rid of all other first basemen on the roster! Billy traded Pena to the Detroit Tigers, Hatteberg became the new first baseman, and…
    Belief in the process and persevering can bring great rewards. …the Athletics set a record by winning 20 straight games on their way to winning the American League West division.
  • “The first guy through the wall gets bloody.” Billy was indeed the first guy to break down the wall, but the paradigm shift in all of baseball was on. In fact, the on-field success of the Athletics despite the miniscule payroll was so revolutionary that Billy Beane was offered the role of general manager of the Boston Red Sox (one of those teams with a huge payroll but inability to win the World Series). He turned the job down to stay with the Athletics, but the Red Sox won the World Series two years later with general manager Theo Epstein at the helm, using the same philosophies introduced by Billy and the Athletics.

Moneyball is the ultimate triumphant change management story, and we all aspire to such a heroic chain of events. It required a philosophy, leaders who not only believed in it but stuck with it through difficult times, process users and followers who were in alignment, and a lot of courage to try something new – unlike most traditional companies, the success of the Oakland Athletics is in plain sight for everyone in the world to see.

Guest Post: Tracing the evolution of strategy deployment

This week is Lean series week at Beyond Lean.  The blog posts will center around strategy deployment (or Hoshin Kanri).  Justin Tomac, Chad Walters, Karen Wilhelm and Tony Ferraro will be guest blogging.  This will give you different perspectives from on strategy deployment all right here at Beyond Lean.

kw-prof-dec2011-3qtr-tanToday’s post is from Karen Wilhelm.  Karen has inspired me to connect and learn more through blogging.  It has been great communicating with Karen over the last few years.  Her insights are always enlightening.  This is part one of a two part series.  The second part will post on Karen’s blog.

Part One: Japanese manufacturing leaders listen to Dr. Juran

As hoshin kanri — also called policy or strategy deployment — becomes better understood through Matt’s blog series, I thought I’d trace some of its roots, as described in some key publications. As with all things lean, hoshin kanri can mean many things to many people.  Three key figures who brought hoshin kanri to light saw it from different perspectives too.

In 1951, for example, Dr. Joseph Juran gave a talk at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF, 1951) — formerly the Army War College — to engineers involved in procurement of high-precision parts for armaments. Titled “Quality Control and Inspection,” the lecture focused on product quality characteristics and the use of statistical quality control (SQC). He talked about how assuring quality in product design and manufacturing processes instead of inspecting and rejecting parts that did not meet specs. In this particular talk, Juran only fleetingly touched upon cross-functional communication, continuous improvement, and other critical concepts included in hoshin kanri.

As many of you know, around the same time, Dr. Juran (as well as W. Edwards Deming) was speaking to groups of Japanese manufacturers who were more interested in his quality message than those in the U.S. or Europe, Toyota began sending key managers to quality seminars as early as 1949. Along with other seminars, Dr. Juran was asked to hold a special one for the industrial leadership of Japan: 70 presidents of Japanese companies.

Dr_Juran_smallJuran never used the words hoshin kanri, but from the 1950s on, he described an integrated plan for integrating quality into the company’s management system (Juran, 1988). A company taking this path would be developing a quality strategy understood and carried out at every level of the company. Communication and coordination across functional departments would be effective. Upper management would understand and
perform the tasks needed to make the quality strategy take root.

Juran called the highest level of guiding and planning the strategy Total Quality Management (TQM) or sometimes Strategic Quality Management (SQM). Far beyond the control and inspection of product or service quality, these approaches encompass customer demand, competition, and feedback loops. They advocate creating processes to produce high quality products at a reasonable cost. Juran talked about quality deployment as part of the overall strategic plan, mostly with regard to products and their physical characteristics. Although he was sticking to quality deployment, not the deployment of a company’s entire business system, these concepts are hallmarks of hoshin kanri.

Part Two of Tracing the evolution of strategy deployment will be published in Karen
Wilhelm’s Lean Reflections blog.
References

Joseph Juran, Quality Control and Inspection, Publication L51-94, Industrial
College of the Armed Forces. 1951.

Joseph Juran, Juran on Leadership for Quality: An Executive Handbook, The Free
Press, division of Macmillan. 1998.

Takahiro Fujimoto, The Evolution of a Manufacturing System at Toyota, Oxford
University Press. 1999.

Guest Post: Hoshin Planning: Clear Business Objectives Help Guide Success

This week is Lean series week at Beyond Lean.  The blog posts will center around strategy deployment (or Hoshin Kanri).  Justin Tomac, Chad Walters, Karen Wilhelm and Tony Ferraro will be guest blogging.  This will give you different perspectives from on strategy deployment all right here at Beyond Lean.

blogphotoToday’s post is from Tony Ferraro, on behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR (www.creativesafetysupply.com). Tony strives to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. His knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. Tony believes in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier employees.

There are many businesses out there proposing new and creative ideas but somehow lack the guidance and direction to make a good product idea a successful reality. What is it that curbs these business ventures? Is it funding? Is it technology? Or is it a true sense of guidance and leadership? In most cases, the unfortunate truth is that a great product idea or truly unique business plot will flounder and fail without a strategic direction and strong force of leadership helping to guide business objectives. One of the ways to meet this need is to implement the principles of Hoshin Kanri or simply Hoshin Planning. Hoshin Planning is a Japanese term that basically means “strategic planning.” This type of planning strives to really involve all employees in the objectives and improvements within the organization. Top levels of management make it a priority to assure that that all employees feel involved and that they are working as one big team towards a common goal. With this mindset there are no winners or losers within the company, it is purely a team effort and everyone participates and is accountable to help in meeting the identified objectives. The need for continuous improvement is also a highly valued component in this type of planning.

Possible Hoshin Objectives

One of the first and most important steps within Hoshin Planning is to identify the areas in need of improvement, and since Hoshin Planning is about setting clear business objectives it is important identify which objectives are most valuable to the livelihood of the business. Some common continuous improvement objectives include: increasing production, improving current market share along with new market sales, reducing raw material costs and also reducing direct and indirect labor costs. The reason this step is so vital is because everything can’t be tackled at once, think of the analogy that the “big rocks” must be taken care of first in order to start focusing on the “little rocks.”

Organizing Objectives for Clear Measurement

Unfortunately, objectives are merely a list of far-fetched desires if they are not organized properly for action. Sure, a group of leaders can set aside some time to devise a list of company objectives and write them neatly upon a fancy sheet of paper. However, without a concrete plan to guide the objectives the objective planning session would be deemed useless, and the paper may even end up getting lost in someone’s briefcase only to stumble upon it again weeks later. Instead, once objectives are identified they need to be taken seriously and should be categorized and organized for efficiency. For example, once a group of leaders has clearly identified the objectives they would like to implement into the business, they could categorize them into four different types such as improvement projects, specific action projects, 3-5 goals, and annual objectives. By doing this, top company leaders as well as employees will be able to visualize the different objectives and goals and really understand the time frames behind them as well. Essentially this sets the stage for developing the approaches needed to help pursue the stated objectives and goals when moving on to the strategy development phase of Hoshin Planning.

Hoshin Planning is really a dynamic and multifaceted form of strategic planning which involves all areas of a business. However, in order to reach optimum effectiveness all staff should be on board and involved. With that said, and in conjunction with the right objectives, Hoshin Planning can be a huge asset to any business looking to improve overall company performance.

Guest Post: A Few Thoughts on Policy Deployment

This week is Lean series week at Beyond Lean.  The blog posts will center around strategy deployment (or Hoshin Kanri).  Justin Tomac, Chad Walters, Karen Wilhelm and Tony Ferraro will be guest blogging.  This will give you different perspectives from on strategy deployment all right here at Beyond Lean.

Today’s post is from Justin Tomac.  Justin and I have worked together for the last five years.  My knowledge of strategy deployment has really grown since I have worked with him.  Justin Tomac has been a Lean practitioner a year or two shy of two decades.  His Lean background consists of various deployments with hands-on office, engineering and shop floor transformations with mentoring and training being provided by TBM and Shingijutsu consultants.  A GE certified Six Sigma Black Belt, he has an Industrial Engineering degree from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and an Engineering Management masters from Wichita State University.  If you would like to contact Justin he may be reached at justintomac@yahoo.com

A lot of articles and books have been written about Policy Deployment, with the focus primarily on the high level concept with exhaustive studies on implementation.  Most of us understand conceptually what Policy Deployment is, where it appears to break down is during the implementation and sustainment.  As you may know, sustainment is a key indicator of how well a concept is understood and implemented by an organization.

Below are a few key characteristics of what a Sustained Policy Deployment look like:

1)      Organic and Living.  Policy Deployment should not be a one and done planning and execution exercise.  Monthly reviews with Quarterly or Semi-Annual Adjustments highlight an active Policy Deployment. The health of these Reviews or Adjustments can be determined by How meaningful the actions and results are.

2)      Influences the Behavior and the Culture.  A robust Policy Deployment process exists to solve the various issues related to horizontal and vertical alignment of objectives, goals and priorities for a Company, Division or Department.  What the boss measures and deems important only lasts as long as the Culture allows.  Organizations that struggle with accountability, communicating (vertically and/or horizontally) strategies or tactics, simplification, etc., have Cultural issues.  I heard a saying, “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”, why not flip this and make Culture the main dish for the morning meal?

3)      A flexible, structured Process (not a fill-in the blank exercise).  I find it interesting that when Policy Deployment is brought up, out fly the different templates, forms, etc.  In the end, does the form or template set the Strategies or drive the priorities?  Policy Deployment should be a process that examines the business top down and sideways, irregardless of what form or template is used.  In the long run, it is what your Culture will allow or likes that will dictate what your Policy Deployment looks like.

Based upon your experiences would you agree and/or add to these?  What say you?

An Overview of Strategy Deployment

This week is Lean series week at Beyond Lean.  The blog posts will center around strategy deployment (or Hoshin Kanri).  Justin Tomac, Chad Walters, Karen Wilhelm and Tony Ferraro will be guest blogging.  This will give you different perspectives from on strategy deployment all right here at Beyond Lean.  I am really excited for this week’s series.  All the posts are great.  Enjoy!

Almost every company will say they have a strategy.  While they may have a great strategy, most companies miss out on deploying that strategy throughout their organization.

Strategy deployment is a key concept that most companies don’t execute well.  Typically, a communication goes out stating  the strategy of the company or it may even be communicated at a large town hall.  This is great, but it is only a single step in the strategy deployment process.

A great strategy deployment process starts at the top with clearly articulated goals for the company.  The executives involve senior management in the process.  They discuss what the goals should be across all parts of the organization and how their areas can help achieve those goals.

Once that has been agreed upon, then the senior management involves the middle management.  They discuss more detailed tactics on how to the middle manager’s area can help achieve the senior manager’s goals and objectives.  It is a two-way discussion with input and clarity from both levels.

This catchball or laddering conversation should happen level by level all the way down to the floor and then all the way back up to the executives.  This should happen a few times.  Not just once.

Here is a good graphic to try and depict the process:

strategy_deployment_flow

When done well, the benefits of this are enormous.  Everyone starts to understand the strategy and how their work is helping to achieve the vision of that strategy.

The discussion that happens during the catchball phase isn’t just between a team and their manager but also between managers that are peers.  This helps to develop alignment not only up and down the organization but also across the organization.  This alignment helps determine how to use the finite pool of people and cash to best achieve the company’s goals and objectives.

In my experience, company’s that have a great strategy deployment process end up with much better results year-to-year and can sustain those results because of the clear communication and everyone understanding the importance of their work.

Does your company use strategy deployment?  How does it work?

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