In my last blog I discussed the role of Service Leadership.

Quick recap…

Service Leaders need to be able to do three things:

  • Assess the Current State - knowing where you currently are and understanding the areas of improvement that will provide the greatest return for the business
  • Define the Future - developing a vision that provides the context for all improvements
  • Lead the Business Integration - aligning the organization behind the vision
Today, I want to discuss the 2nd one in more detail: Defining the Future!

Defining the future of your business, i.e. formulating a strategy, requires a combination of out-of-the-box, divergent thinking (“expanding” of ideas/alternatives) and convergent thinking (choosing from the alternatives and committing to a direction/focus).

Some people believe that strategic thinking has to happen at the corporate level only and not at the Service/IT-level. I beg to differ! Strategic thinking needs to happen throughout the business because every organization is competing at multiple levels: the product level, the service level, the process level, the people level, the IT level!

A good business strategy should provide three things:

  • A clear focus
  • A competitive advantage
  • A basis for motivating the troops

A CLEAR FOCUS

Strategy is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do! Having a clear strategy means providing focus to the organization by making choices – choices about services you will and will not provide; choices about customers/users you will and will not service (or only serve in a certain way); choices about key capabilities you will and will not develop; choices about strategic initiatives you will and will not fund. It is these choices that make the difference between a focused organization and an organization that is confused about its purpose.

A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

If you cannot demonstrate that what you do or how you do it has some sort of unique, value-adding feature then why shouldn’t the organization outsource your department? If you are not providing a key capability to the business (or cannot articulate it!), then some senior executive in the organization will sooner or later ask that question … and it is a fair question to raise! Ask yourself: what capabilities or services or combination thereof can we develop to meaningfully differentiate ourselves from our competitors? Sources of competitive advantage may lie in your service mix or delivery method, your relationship building approach or some other unique capability (e.g. the ability to develop customized solutions).

A BASIS FOR MOTIVATING THE TROOPS

If you want to drive change in your organization, you first have to get your employees’ commitment. No change will occur without some level of energy/excitement about what the organization will ‘be’ at the end of the journey. In order to achieve this you will have to find a format/language for painting the picture of the end-state, some way of clearly articulating what the organization will look like and do differently when the strategy is implemented. This includes explaining, in specific terms, how the individuals will benefit from the change (WIIFM = What’s in it for me?) and being honest about sacrifices that may have to be made.

Christoph Goldenstern is a Global Vice President and Principal with Kepner-Tregoe. He has more than 15 years of strategic and operational consulting and management experience with focus on Technology and other B2B industries.

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