Posts Tagged ‘Dick Albu’

What is a Strategy Focused Organization?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

 

This week’s guest is Dick Albu, the founder and president of Albu Consulting, a strategy management consulting firm focused on engaging and energizing leadership teams of middle market private and family business to formulate robust business strategies and follow through on execution of key strategic initiatives.

 

 

The ultimate prize for all NFL football teams is a Super Bowl win.  There is no greater reward for a well planned and executed season.  Management, coaches, and players need to be aligned and focused for every game.  They also need to be committed to the overall team strategy.  Successful teams embrace the strategy focused organization model.

What can business owners and CEO’s learn from these NFL football teams?  A strategy focused organization understands that strategy is dynamic and it has adapted a continuous strategy management process of addressing issues and weaknesses, leveraging strengths, and exploiting opportunities on a timely basis. As with a winning football team, the ability to successfully execute the game plan is critical to business owners and their management teams. Here are three key elements for successful strategy execution.

Mobilize and engage the senior team – Alignment and commitment from the senior team is an essential ingredient to success.  Without complete buy-in from the leadership team, it is a sure bet that little change will happen.  Management and coaches all need to be on the same page, guided by a strategy that everyone has bought into.  Involving and getting buy-in from all managers through a collaborative process is critical to creating a strategy focused organization.  Keep in mind that this type of engagement does not happen overnight.  Establishing a strategy focused organization happens over years, not weeks or months.

Translate strategy to action in a way everyone can understand – Use a simple system that everyone can understand to explain who needs to do what by when.   Successful coaches make game plans easy to understand and make execution as flawless possible.   In our experience, a simple framework where objectives, initiatives and tactics are aligned creates a great deal of clarity and ensures engagement.   Employees get energized when they understand how they can contribute to the success of the strategy.

Embed the strategy execution process into day-to-day business operations – Organizations need a predictive, consistent, and continuous methodology to manage strategy execution.  Coaches are constantly making adjustments to their strategy as the season progresses because they appreciate that the football season is dynamic.  New opportunities or critical issues come up at any time, like an injury that leaves you without your starting quarterback.   Organizations need to think in the same way.  Strategy requires a dynamic and continuous process with consistent follow up throughout the year with the entire organization. Our approach with clients requires an ongoing execution process of monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings to measure, review progress and adapt strategy as necessary .

There are obviously many more aspects to creating a strategy focused organization that can lead change and improve performance.  Skipping any of these elements will prevent any company from achieving success.  We would like to hear your reaction to these important points, and let us know how you are creating a strategy focused organization.

Dick can be reached at 203-321-2147 or RAlbu@albuconsulting.com. For more information on Albu Consulting visit www.albuconsulting.com.

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The Three Cs of Strategy Execution

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

This week’s guest is Dick Albu, the founder and president of Albu Consulting, a strategy management consulting firm focused on engaging and energizing leadership teams of middle market private and family business to formulate robust business strategies and follow through on execution of key strategic initiatives.

 

 

 

What is one of the most common missing links when it comes to successful strategic planning? Most CEOs we speak to will agree its strategy execution. You can have developed a mediocre plan, and an exceptional execution process will lift that average plan to new heights. Without a solid execution process in place, strategic plans are useless documents that sit on shelves collecting dust. More importantly, without a formal strategy execution process, organizations fail to achieve their goals.

At Albu Consulting, we believe that strategy development and strategy execution work hand-in-hand. They are partners in a dynamic, continuous and collaborative process. Strategy development does not end after a two or three day offsite and execution is not just project management. Rather, joined together strategy development and execution act as a strategy management system of continuous improvement to achieve the results you want.

How can you provide the leadership to make strategy happen? Consider these three Cs of strategy execution that can help you achieve your long term strategic goals.

Communicate – All too often strategy is kept a secret by the CEO only to be shared with a few members of the leadership team. Often it is implicit, lacking a written document that articulates the specifics of the strategy. Unfortunately, if people down through the organization don’t know about the strategy, it is hard for them to connect with it. Strategy needs to be the fabric of how everyone in the organization makes decisions. It should be a part of everyone’s day-to-day responsibility. Strategy is the link that defines “what” needs to be done, “why” it is important, “how” it will be executed.

Commitment – We are always amazed at how engaged managers and employees become once they are brought into the strategy management process. When employees participate in the development of the strategy and better understand how they can contribute to its success, their level of commitment increases. Collaboration within departments and across functions improves, and the result is both top-down and bottom-up cooperation and feedback. Once you have made the case to everyone in the organization, and included them in the strategy management process, translating strategy to action becomes much easier.

Change – Business is dynamic and unpredictable. It is difficult to imagine it any other way. Flexibility in business is absolutely necessary, but it needs to have purpose. Without purpose, organizations tend to “chase” opportunities that are off strategy. Your strategic plan should define and guide business decisions and help your organization stay focused and on task. By managing change through one-on-one coaching, team meetings and leadership reviews, you will embrace change with confidence. Change is necessary and organizations become better for it, but it needs to be on strategy.

Strategy execution is an integral part of the strategy management equation. The pace and complexity of business isn’t getting any easier. Effective strategy execution should not be viewed as additive work, but rather the centerpiece of what the organization needs to accomplish to achieve and exceed its long term goals.

Dick can be reached at 203-321-2147 or RAlbu@albuconsulting.com. For more information on Albu Consulting visit www.albuconsulting.com.

Is Strategy Static or Variable?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

This week’s guest is Dick Albu, the founder and president of Albu Consulting, a strategy management consulting firm focused on engaging and energizing leadership teams of middle market private and family business to formulate robust business strategies and follow through on execution of key strategic initiatives.

 

 

In last month’s issue of AlbuonStrategy we discussed three reasons why strategy fails (3 Reasons Strategy Fails).  I would like to follow up on that conversation with a question—is strategy static or variable?  From our own client experience, we believe there is both confusion and difference of opinion about the answer to this question.

Would you agree that strategy is a dynamic, continuous and adaptive process and it needs to be managed over the long term?   Let’s be honest, as sound as you might feel your strategy is today, you should never stop questioning it.  Strategy is simply a bet on the perceived future.  No one has yet found a way to predict all that will happen in the future. Rather, we accept a forecast of the future based on our current knowledge and past experiences for our business and industry.

Think about the surprises you have encountered in your business:  Technology changes, departure of key employees, competitors gaining advantages, loss of a major customer, etc., etc.  These are just a few examples of disruptions that might cause a change of course at any point during the implementation of your strategy.   In our experience, we have seen how effective this “variable” mindset can be.  The bottom line is if you accept and operate under the concept that strategy is dynamic, continuous and adaptive, you will develop a heightened awareness of internal or external changes that might impact your strategy and be better prepared to deal with these challenges in a deliberate manner.

So are all elements of your strategy variable?  No.  While your strategy needs to be dynamic, continuous and adaptive, the strategy’s foundation should be static.  The strategy’s foundation defines the way you play and win in the market. Think of it as the way you create value for your business and the capabilities that support your advantages.  Not to say that the strategy’s foundation cannot change, because it can, but it usually takes a commitment of time and resources over the long term.  This is why a client of ours decided to limit the product categories they participate in, or another international business restricted itself to operate in only a few select countries.

What are the differentiating capabilities that support your strategy’s foundation?  How do these capabilities define what business you are in and how you do business with your customers?   If you are clear about what comprises your strengths and capabilities, you will make better strategic decisions more often and with more confidence.

Your strategy needs to be variable to deal realistically with the unpredictable and stay relevant in the fast changing business world we live in.  At the same time, the foundation of your strategy needs to remain constant so that short term strategic decisions build off your value proposition and differentiating capabilities.  Are you prepared to manage this paradox?

Dick can be reached at 203-321-2147 or RAlbu@albuconsulting.com. For more information on Albu Consulting visit www.albuconsulting.com.

Are You Fit For Growth?

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

This week’s guest is Dick Albu, the founder and president of Albu Consulting, a strategy management consulting firm focused on engaging and energizing leadership teams of middle market private and family business to formulate robust business strategies and follow through on execution of key strategic initiatives.

 

As we talk to current, past and prospective clients, they readily share their concern regarding achieving profitable growth. Their concerns center on the uncertainty surrounding economic policy that is creating business uncertainty and dampening economic growth. They are also finding it challenging to shift their focus from reducing costs (for the past 5 years to survive the recession) to driving sales growth. Yet, these same leaders realize their organizations will be facing headwinds for some time and need to move forward with a growth agenda.

The companies we spoke with are not alone in their concern in achieving profitable growth. According to a recent Booze & Company survey Fit for Growth (Survey) – only 17% of the 197 companies surveyed are prepared to achieve sustained profitable growth. The realization that most companies are struggling, represents an opportunity for those willing to prepare for growth by taking a more deliberate approach to developing and implementing their agenda. The Survey created an index based on assessing companies in three key areas:

1. Strategic clarity – clear set of strategic priorities supported by strong capabilities, a product portfolio aligned to the strategy, and a presence in critical markets.

2. Resource alignment – investment in key capabilities, targeted cost reduction, and continuous improvement initiatives aligned to strategy.

3. Supportive organization – Effective and timely decision making, strong leadership, and a supportive culture.

The first area addresses strategy, and areas two and three capture a company’s execution capability. Strategy and execution were given equal weights in the index to acknowledge their shared impact on performance.  In addition, the Survey compared index values to total shareholder returns (TSR) and found that companies with high index scores generally scored higher in TSR performance. Essential to a company having a high index value was scoring well in all three areas, highlighting how these three areas reinforce one another, resulting in higher overall performance.

The evidence is compelling. Being Fit for Growth can lead to sustained profitable growth. So how do you go about determining if you are Fit for Growth? Booze & Company suggests starting by answering these three questions:

1. Do you have clear priorities, focused on strategic growth, that drive your investments? You might not have clear growth priorities if you feel you have too many conflicting priorities, or your leadership team is not aligned when asked what things the company does well.

2. Do your costs line up with your priorities? Are you allocating resources to priorities effectively and efficiently? You may be able to improve your allocation of resources if high-priority projects are missing milestones because they do not get appropriate attention, or department annual budgets are only based on prior year.

3. Is your organization set up to enable you to achieve your priorities? Your organization may not be fully supporting your growth agenda if incentives are motivating people in ways that actually undermine the behaviors needed to achieve growth priorities, or most suggestions are being rejected causing people to be afraid to take calculated risks.

Get fit for profitable growth by answering the above questions and take steps to get better in the three areas of Strategic Clarity, Resource Alignment, and a Supportive Organization.

Is your organization Fit for Growth?  We would be interested in hearing about your experience. Give us a call.

Dick can be reached at 203-321-2147 or RAlbu@albuconsulting.com. For more information on Albu Consulting visit www.albuconsulting.com.

 

Business Killer: 5 Reasons the Status Quo is Not Enough

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

This week’s guest is Dick Albu, the founder and president of Albu Consulting, a strategy management consulting firm focused on engaging and energizing leadership teams of middle market private and family business to formulate robust business strategies and follow through on execution of key strategic initiatives.

 

The Status quo is defined as the current or existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep things the way they are. Isn’t that the easier way? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could just keep things the way they are and not change?

Unfortunately, the world does not work that way. Competitors change tactics, customers change buyers, governments change policies, strikes stop production and occasionally natural disasters cause havoc. As a result, the status quo is not enough and organizations need to learn to adapt and change. This brings us to the opposite of status quo, or the anti-status quo. Literally it means to refuse to compromise with the status quo. To experience the anti-status quo is to make a conscious decision to reject staying the same for the good of the business.

Listed below are five reasons why businesses get stuck in the status quo. One thing is certain; these five business killers will stand in your way from making the changes you need to win in today’s business environment.

1. Lack of clear direction:
If people do not know or understand the organization’s strategy, they will not know how they can help. Make clear your strategy and goals to everyone in the organization. Show your employees how they can align their work to the strategy and they will become energized and engaged.

2. A focus only on planning and not on execution:
Many organizations spend more time and energy planning strategy and very little time translating those plans to specific action. Without investing time in strategy execution, the tendency of most organizations is to relapse to the status quo. Document strategic initiatives, and assign activities to specific employees with measurable outcomes to get the results you want.

3. Distaste for risk:
Unfortunately change often happens quickly when it becomes urgent. Don’t wait until you are in a difficult situation. Change needs to
happen well before the crisis occurs.

4. Excusing mediocre performance:
Do not excuse sub-par performance. Help people by establishing a system of open communication. Top performers will rise up when given the opportunity, while underperformers will become quite visible as well.

5. Reluctance to hold people accountable:
Without accountability, the status quo will creep in and smother any attempt at change. Explain to employees what is expected of them and establish a good reward system that is linked to expected results.

Change is often times difficult to accept. It can be frightening and threatening to some because of its uncertainty and the risks it might entail. As a result, the status quo can easily become more appealing to many. Yet it is more dangerous keeping things the way they are, because in today’s business environment the status quo is not enough.

What are your experiences dealing with the status quo and the challenges of driving change in your organization? What have you done to overcome these challenges?

Dick can be reached at 203-321-2147 or RAlbu@albuconsulting.com. For more information on Albu Consulting visit www.albuconsulting.com.

Strategic Success Comes From 3Ps

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

This week’s guest is Dick Albu, the founder and president of Albu Consulting, a strategy management consulting firm focused on engaging and energizing leadership teams of middle market private and family business to formulate robust business strategies and follow through on execution of key strategic initiatives.

If you are like many of our clients, you and your leadership team are getting ready to launch into your strategy sessions for 2013.  This is a great time to be reminded that the success of the strategic plan depends on three key factors (“3Ps”):

(1) How good is your PLAN?
(2) How committed are you to a PROCESS to pursue your goals?
(3) How committed are your PEOPLE to staying focused and on task until your goals are achieved?

Developing the right PLAN begins with a comprehensive analysis of the business, both from an internal and external perspective. Strategic thinking creates a realistic picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the products or services you offer customers, and your market position relative to competition. A good plan takes into consideration your company’s realistic capacity and capability for profitable growth. Strategic thinking sets the stage for identifying growth initiatives that are realistic, practical and specific to your unique situation.

Commitment to a relentless follow up PROCESS is the second stretch on the road to success. The driving force behind the process must come first from the President/CEO, and then be reinforced by the senior leadership team. Successful implementation of strategy is a continuous, long term process that evolves and strengthens over time. Commitment to monthly, quarterly and annual check-ups will refresh, revise and enhance your odds of success. At the same time, it keeps everyone in the organization fully engaged and focused on achieving the company goals.

The most important “P” for success is PEOPLE. Peter Drucker stated in Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, “The distinction that marks a plan capable of producing results is the commitment of key people to work on specific tasks. Unless such commitment is made, there are only promises and hope, but no plan.” These specific tasks, which evolve from the PLAN and PROCESS, drive accountability and deadlines, while tracking results against agreed measures. In our opinion, seventy percent of success is the result of getting the full buy-in from key employees.

PROCESS and PEOPLE relate directly to excellence in execution. Research has found that 70% of companies fail to achieve their strategic plan goals, in many cases because they lack the process and people skills to enable a discipline for execution. A robust strategy execution management process can provide your organization with the most vital core competency of them all… the ability to execute your strategy.

Dick can be reached at 203-321-2147 or RAlbu@albuconsulting.com. For more information on Albu Consulting visit www.albuconsulting.com.

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