“The secrets to successful strategy execution” is an article by Gary Neilson, Karla Martin, and Elisabeth Powers about the most effective solutions in addressing organizational malfunctioning and internal relations. Here, the authors outline five main criteria for successful companies’ functioning from a corporate perspective. This paper aims to analyze the article “The secrets to successful strategy execution” and present some critical ideas regarding organizational change management.
According to Neilson et al. (2008), although the traditional way of solving internal organizational problems is restructuring, scientists have proved that such a solution is the least effective. The authors conducted a study based on data collected from more than 26 thousand respondents, employees of more and less successful organizations. The respondents were asked to choose from 17 strategies that their organizations applied to organizational change management. The most successful organizations used similar techniques to improve work processes and make teams and units work together.
Five main criteria for companies’ successful functioning were associated with managers’ informed decision-making, communicating important information about the competitive environment to the top executives, and not second-guessing the decisions already made. These criteria also included free information flows across organizational boundaries and field employees’ understanding of their daily choices’ bottom-line impact. Thus, the authors of the article determined which techniques affected companies’ success and survival.
The first criterion presenting the importance of managers’ understanding of their primary responsibilities has a lot to do with their success. The authors gave an example of a company whose organizational processes were severely slowed down due to the multitude of reports, approvals, and clarifications of responsibility areas (Neilson, 2008). The scientists also explained that such confusion arises from the fact that many businesses start with a small number of people, not needing to assign responsibilities. However, as the company expands, confusion arises; therefore, informing employees about their area of responsibility is the first thing that speeds up and improves the quality of decision-making and the efficiency of the units.
The second criterion that matters most for strategy execution is the easy and timely flow of important information regarding the competitive environment to higher executives. According to the authors, problems can arise when managers try to smooth things out when submitting a report to the CEO (Neilson, 2008). As a result, the company’s management finds itself in an information vacuum, cut off from knowledge of its real problems. By and large, managers’ behavior can resemble sabotage if it were not such a common mistake of most subordinates.
The third criterion that hinders the company’s future success is the endless revision of decisions already made. Scientists explain that uncertainty in decisions is usually associated with a lack of confidence in responsibility areas (Neilson, 2008). Confusion can lead to the fact that employees will gather in countless meetings, which will be ineffective until each unit’s decision rights are determined. The authors also recommend introducing employees from functional units into the business units and giving managers of business units more promotional powers if they had a rigid hierarchical structure. The fourth important criterion is whether information flows freely across organizational boundaries. Compliance with this criterion is vital for companies that serve large customers by providing services that are being worked on by several units. If this criterion is not met, the company loses the opportunity to develop complex customer-oriented solutions.
The fifth criterion that is the key to success is understanding by front-line employees the bottom-line impact of their daily choices. The authors give an example, when sales departments, due to lack of awareness of the back office’s work, accept requests from too demanding clients, the fulfillment of whose requirements may cause costs that are not covered by the profit from the sale of the service. According to scientists, informing employees about their decisions’ outcomes will help them reach a better understanding.
Interestingly, the authors also developed an organizational change management simulator that allows users to select their preferred strategies for a specific business situation and evaluate their choice’s effectiveness. I and my team chose to lead a passive-aggressive organization. For Year 1, we applied the strategies related to focusing corporate staff on supporting business-unit decision-making, clarifying and streamlining decision-making, clarifying key processes, formalizing the decision review process, and establishing individual performance measures.
The decision to clarify and simplify decision-making had the most significant impact on the company’s execution score and added 5 points; no negative impacts were found. For Year 2, our team decided to assign process owners, streamline communications, establish BU and cross-BU metrics and reports, expand non-monetary rewards, and increase position tenure. Assigning process owners had the greatest impact on the execution score and added 9 points; increased position tenure proved to impact negatively. The overall score grew from 22 to 41 to 61, which is an above-average result.
Thus, the overview of the article “The secrets to successful strategy execution” by Gary Neilson, Karla Martin, and Elisabeth Powers were presented. In the article, the authors analyzed in detail the five main organization change management strategies. The strategies described are widely used in organizations that have proven to be effective. These strategies are not universal, as they can only be applied in specific scenarios. However, for these scenarios, the approaches have proven to be extremely useful.
Neilson, G. L., Martin, K. L., & Powers, E. (2008). The secrets to successful strategy execution. Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 60.