Saturday, 11 April 2015

Why implementation is more important than strategy itself

Companies in the present day expend, both monetary and non-monetary, resources in development of corporate strategy. Most corporates believe that the strategy document/ dossier is the panacea for all its challenges and view it as be all and end of all of everything.

While development of a corporate strategy vision document can never be understated, it is imperative that strategy encompasses the virtue of implementation. There are no “one size fits all” or “cookie cutter” approaches when it comes to strategy. The paucity of time and in some cases lack of clarity forces organizations to adopt a strategy based on someone else’ experience than what is relevant or appropriate for them. A wrong choice of strategy and messier implementation results in precious/scarce resources of the organization being deployed in unfruitful forays.

Organizations should pick a strategy that is realistic, practical and best suits their way ahead. It could be a revenue goal, a product development/service offering goal, a profitability goal or a sustenance goal. The next step is to assimilate and build ways and means to achieve these goals. This is where the process of clear goal setting, implementation and measurement of results comes into play.

Goal setting process, which in more ways than one is the start of the implementation phase, has to involve all relevant stakeholders as they need to be aware as to how the end purpose will be achieved from the start. Often times, too little or only sketchy information about the ways to the means is shared which results in lack of clarity about the approach to the goal.

The essence of a good implementation is clarity of purpose, optimum utilization of both monetary and no-monetary resources, clearly defined timelines, yardstick for measuring performance and finally a clear feedback mechanism. Many a good strategy have not borne desired results as it gets lost in translation of purpose.

For an implementation to be effective there are certain elements that are non-negotiable:
  1. People – Both internal and external should be judiciously chosen and roles defined.
  2. Simple & Straightforward – The implementation process must pass the test of basic understanding. Jargons never get things done as much as plain speak does.
  3. Resources – Apt allocation of monetary and non-monetary resources
  4. Time – Adherence to SLA’s and pre-defined timelines are a very critical component
  5. Measure – A maniacal focus on measuring outcomes, results, hits/misses etc., so that appropriate course corrections can be made immediately.
  6. Leader/Champion – Not necessarily the top honcho but someone who has the ability to make it happen and work with diverse team members. Many organizations make the mistake of identifying the leader first and then the aforementioned. A “horses for courses” approach works best for getting the best results.

For an implementation to be successful, it has to be a democratic process wherein feedback, questions, criticisms etc. are to be viewed in the larger interest of the strategy to be executed rather than it being based on the management position of someone who is offering the feedback or opinion is occupying. In most organizations this is a key issue when it comes to deployment or implementation of strategy.

In conclusion, any great strategy on paper is as good as how well it was finally implemented and executed. Strategies are but intentions that definitely do matter but its proper implementation that makes all the difference between effectiveness or the lack of it.

(This blog post is authored by Venkatesh Nagarajan, Co-founder at SansPareil -

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Thursday, 9 April 2015

What is your organizations' risk appetite?

How calculated are risks?
Understanding the unknown :
Calculated risks are an oft repeated term that organizations resort to in day to day operations and business. But how calculated are these risks and what is the risk appetite of the organization?

Risk, by itself, in more ways than one is generally perceived with a negative connotation. In order to understand the gamut of risk from a business perspective it is essential to demystify "business risks" from those risks that a business exposes itself due to inaction or ignoring the obvious.

Risk appetite, when properly articulated, is both a measure of identifying and mitigating risks as well as enhancing the overall organization's performance and competencies.

In summation, risk appetite may be defined as extent or quantum of risk an organization is willing to undertake in pursuit of its strategic goals. There is no "one size - fits all" when it comes to risk appetite and as a rule is "tailored to suit".

Tenets of risk appetite :
The organization, in general, has to go through the following steps in sequence :
  1. Define Strategic goals/objectives - What will the organization go after - Revenue growth, Profitability, Return on Investment, Geographical expansion etc. This is most crucial step in determining the risk appetite of the organization.
  2. What is the ask?- How the organization needs to recalibrate and reposition itself from a risk taking ability standpoint by utilizing both its monetary and non-monetary resources for attaining the objectives. .
  3. Risk thresholds & tolerance - It is of prime importance that the organization evaluates and determines its risk threshold and tolerance. An ill designed threshold could result in more damage than benefit. Organizations have lost it all when they did not know when or where to stop.
  4. Effective communication - It is not enough if a risk appetite document is created and circulated with the Board. For it to be percolated and implemented in spirit, the do's and dont's, the thresholds and operational paradigm are clearly articulated across the length and breadth of the organization.
  5. Accountability - It is imperative that accountability is the cornerstone for risk taking and risk appetite of an organization as it is likely to expose the company to a path less traversed and hence the business should build appropriate accountability and responsibility metrics in defining its risk appetite.
  6. Measure - A sustained review process and mechanism for measurement needs to be instituted for measuring outcomes, results, hits/misses etc., so that appropriate course corrections can be made immediately.
In order to harness the benefits of calculated risk to propel the organization in the direction of greater glory, it is essential that corporate behavior and responsibility are consistently reinforced.

The corporate environment should foster and encourage the stakeholders to bet on the company to constantly review and increase its risk appetite for the greater good. Greater the risks better the rewards, so long as the risk appetite is clearly defined, deployed and implemented.

(This blog post is authored by Venkatesh Nagarajan, Co-founder at SansPareil -

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