Is your organisation driving to be nearest the pin?

Is your organisation driving to be nearest the pin?
– by Matt English

Those who follow golf will appreciate the term “nearest the pin”. It normally applies to a short Par 3 hole where the objective is to hit the ball to the green in one shot and with the ball finishing closest to the flagstick or pin. Sounds easy? Lets understand what really happens here.

Firstly, there is the strategy of the shot. Many factors need to be considered – the wind, the position of the green, the location of the pin itself just to name a few. Then there is the execution of the shot – the choice of club, the height of the ball on the tee and the speed and shape of the swing. All the above is compressed into a very short time. The point here is not a lesson in golfing technique. Rather this is about the real compression of strategy and  execution that needs to occur for success.

This compression factor is a growing challenge for organisations today, especially those in consumer facing industries such as retail, banking and telcos. Much has been written recently by McKinsey and others regarding the changing nature and role of business strategy. One of the key themes emerging is the changing speed of “strategy into execution”. Long gone are the days of strategy development leading to a long period of execution followed by a loop back to assess and reset.

Take retail for example, and new product development and launch. Strategy and execution are being forced closer together. This is occurring for a number of reasons including channel pressures especially the impact of the online channel, the growing power of the consumer, and also pressures from national economic conditions. These and other factors are challenging organisation capabilities across many industries to deal effectively with this issue of compression.

Organisations should focus on two key areas to improve their capabilities in tackling the above challenges:

  1. Understanding the threats and opportunities from the compression of strategy and execution is a key part of success. Within organisations, simulations and scenarios are crucial tools to help condition executives in how they can operate more effectively in this regard.
  2. Executives need to focus on the disruptive potential from this compression such as faster product development, quicker response to competitor moves and changes to reflect shifts in demographic segments.

So is your organisation driving to be nearest the pin, or is there a high risk of heading off to the wrong fairway?

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