Ask any of your sales managers to define sales strategy and you might get a myriad of responses. Some right, some wrong and many just vague. Ask them to define operational effectiveness and you will tend to get more accurate answers depending on the level of the manager.
Strategy is the what – direction of the organization. Organizational effectiveness is the how – how you are getting there. The problem is that if your strategy is unclear, vague or downright wrong it does not matter in the long term how effective you are as an organization – sooner or later you will fail due to any number of outside forces:
– the economy
– consumer changes in attitudes
– the global market place
– an aging population
Think of it as a matrix; Draw a four quadrant box. Along the top put Strategy down the left side put operational effectiveness. Therefore;
The lower left hand box is low operational effectiveness and a vague or no strategy.
The upper left hand box is high operational effectiveness but poor or no strategy.
The lower right hand box is low operational effectiveness but clear and focused strategy.
The upper right hand box is clear and focused strategy and operational effectiveness.
We could go on for pages discussing the various consequences and events depending on which your organization is function in. Let's instead summarize a critical factor in this illustration, which is not the quadrant you are currently in but the direction you are moving. In other words if you are in the lower right (your strategy is clear but you lack operational effectiveness) but because of your clear strategy you are becoming better at your operational effectiveness, overall, you are moving in the right direction. However if you are in the upper left hand quadrant (high operational effectiveness but unclear or
Changing strategy) and because of your lack of clear direction you are becoming less operationally effective you are moving in the wrong direction.
Granted, no organization will ever stay in the same quadrant indefinitely. There are just too many forces at work here such as changes in management, emerging competitors, a fluxing economy and the rapid pace of change in the are of technology.
It is possible however to stay healthy in both areas and the key is to let your operational effectiveness be driven by your strategy. Herein lies the problem in many organizations today. Management tend to focus more on their operational effectiveness than developing and maintaining a clear, focused and communicated strategy and direction. Sure, many organizations have monthly or annual strategic planning meetings. I have facilitated dozens during the past few years. And the biggest challenge at these meetings is to keep the focus on developing a strategy (The What) and not get bogged down in lengthy operational effectiveness (The How) discussions that are doomed to fail without a clear and integrated strategy.