Hazel’s Thursday Thoughts – Balancing Act


We are now in February of 2017. How are your resolutions progressing?

For many of us the advent of a new year brings promises for cleaning the slate and starting afresh. It presents an opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make decisions on what needs to happen, or to be improved upon going forward.  We resolve to lose weight, save more money, spend more time with family, volunteer more often, and the laundry list goes on.  We have also universally accepted the fact that many of these aspirations will barely make it off the ground and if they do, will have very little staying power.  Why is this?

There are many reasons: perhaps the goals are too lofty; the timelines are unrealistic; or perhaps there is no alignment between the accomplishment and its execution. Whatever the reason, I am sure we all have a story of new year’s goals that either fail to launch, or last.

Companies are somewhat different as they do not need the turn of a new year to make resolutions; this is part and parcel of their strategic planning process. Like individuals, the outcome of this process needs to include goals and how they will be achieved.  That is, the high-level goals need to get down to the execution level. Oftentimes, particularly within large organizations, this last piece stops with the corporate strategic plan.  The operational strategy, which is a critical element of this process gets missed.  Why is this so important?  Because a well-executed operational strategy balances an organization’s effectiveness and efficiency.

As an example, I worked with an organization whose operational strategy comprised solely a list of tactics aimed at cost cutting.  Not surprising, this efficiency focused plan resulted in diminished customer value delivery, damaged productivity and a demoralized workforce. We did extensive work to rebuild these elements and get on the path to achieving an equilibrium between efficiency and effectiveness.

This organization does not stand alone.  History is littered with stories of organizations “cleaning house” in one year only to repeat the process in the subsequent year because no operational plan existed to sustain the cost cutting initiative. Soon the practice establishes itself as an annual activity.

Operations is where the rubber hits the road. In organizations, it is the most diverse area to manage because it integrates skills, process, technology and culture.  Yes, culture, which is the biggest impediment to a well-executed strategy.  More on that in a later thought…

So here is my question to you:

What is you plan for making your company, business area, or group operational? How well does it balance effectiveness and efficiency?


P.S.  You can also apply this question to your resolutions!

About the Author: Hazel

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