What do we need as organizations to control the future? A good strategy is certainly one, and that comes with the ability to receive and process the right information through Situation Analyses. Yet control comes from taking the right actions. That is what strategy execution is all about. People far more researched than I am have influenced my thinking on this. Rebecka Homkes at London Business School is one of those voices, worth taking in. Writing in Harvard Business Review, she and her colleagues have identified three main areas in Strategy Execution that interplay: Alignment, Adaptability and Cooperation. [Why Strategy Execution Unravels—and What to Do About It (hbr.org)]
Once you have a Strategy, in order to implement it you need to focus on Alignment, you need to focus on maintaining Adaptability, and you need to focus on Cooperation. There is a lot of frameworks and tools to help with Alignment. Now, even if you “Cascade”, ”OKR”, “Strategy Map”, etc. your organizational goals down perfectly to departments and teams to create aligned business plans, to subsidiaries and partners to align an ecosystem – you still don’t get more than the combined result of those well-performing siloes, best case.
“Do you have an agile and nimble system or framework
in place to change course more like a figure skater,
and less like an oil-tanker? “
If you do, and feel good about the strictly hierarchical levels of execution, and feel it all planned out. It still took you months… and then your facts aren’t the same anymore. Suddenly the market conditions change, a new technology is invented, a pandemic strikes, a trade war ensues… Will you spend another two to four quarters realigning your organizational hierarchy, again? Or, do you have an agile and nimble system or framework in place to change course more like a figure skater and less like an oil-tanker?
So, enter Cooperation. There are few if any effective theoretical frameworks for distributed cross-organizational cooperation that work well together with vertical strategic alignment (while remaining adaptive). Compared with strategy frameworks and project management methods, the area of frameworks for cooperation is a veritable desert in methodological terms.
“Our future is not pre-determined,
it depends on our collective choices and actions“
“Our future is not predetermined, it depends on our collective choices and actions.” This has inspired me and my colleagues’ work in creating silo-synching and silo-breaking visibility of information, using database visualization to discover and direct strategic opportunities for cooperation across departments and business functions.
We then combine that information with our unique management framework that works both vertically and horizontally, centered around the company’s existing and sought-after Business Capabilities. Improvement and agility is all about bridging what is to what you want it to be. Moreover, we firmly believe that a management framework has to be able to handle both continuous improvement and strategic transformation at the same time, in order for resource allocation and road-mapping not to become chaotic.
Firsts, we create uniformity in basic facts – a common point of reference, then we display the interconnectedness of these facts and their context in the organization – as directed by the organizational goals. More technically speaking, we combine a generic conceptual information model with its logical layer and on that base, we display data as the instances or occurrences that exist in the real world (the physical information model). Thus, an aligned, adaptive and cooperation ready Digital Twin of an Organization is born.
In all the time that we have worked on these matters, it is increasingly evident that you simple cannot achieve control over your future without a strong digital system support. Even more evidently, you need a highly nimble technology so that you as an organization can remain agile, constantly adapting to events and new aspirations. For cooperation to work, again – you have to have a system. That system’s purpose is to inform. There is no more “Why are we doing that?” or “What’s happening?”. Those answers should be on your screen, a search away.
“When you know what you have, you know what else
you can use it for – when goals or conditions change.
So, on top of our theoretical framework for driving aligned strategy execution, optimized tactical choices and collaborative operational implementation, we create a mirror image of your business capabilities, down to the resources at play. Simply put, we visualize the information (that should be) exchanged between various parts of your organization, the technologies and systems you use, and finally – how they interact and interrelate in your processes to achieve business value. When you know what you have, you know what else you can use it for – when goals or conditions change. That simple.
Back to the quote “Our future is not predetermined, it depends on our collective choices and actions.” This quote holds an aspiration, if not a call to arms, against loss of hope and the perils of fearing uncertainty in times of chaos or unrest. Resting instead on the heritage of the Enlightenment and the Renaissance we know that we can achieve what we set out to achieve, by adapting to the circumstances. We simply need the right mindset and the right tools to achieve it together.
In the business world, this translates to a clear situational understanding, a solid strategy, good tactical choices, and a very well-developed ability to cooperate and collaborate. Now imagine you can visualize all that on your screen, click and navigate around in a virtual copy of your business universe. See gaps and inefficiencies, room for action and improvement, see who should work more closely together and connect them, and set the real-world cogs in their right places to execute your strategy better than anyone else. I can personally see few more rewarding things to work with, than to continue to improve on that system, with the kind help and facilitation of my digital friend, the inorigo® database technology.
Author: Kristoffer Nordman, Consultant at Ortelius