Toys and Tools

“Deliberation is a function of the many; action is the function of one.(Charles de Gaulle, War Memoirs, 1960).

My today article comes as the second part to some previous articles of mine– where my main point was towards the implementation part regarding crisis management and the need for more developed software that can help us better in the area of control and implementation, especially in responding, preventing and controlling diverse and complex crisis scenarios directly corellated with cash-flow and financial situations.

During crisis management responding / intervention – the main fundamental issue is the implementation of the scenario, especially when it hadn’t been predicted and planned and takes the company by surprise.

I want to support my views with more research during this article.

As a result I have found a very good, interesting and fresh Executive Briefing study research from diverse points of view and very good quality information to think at. It is entitled (“Building a Strategy Tool Kit – Lessons from Business”) made in 2009 and it is among the online publications of Aim Research – Advanced Institute of Management Research – UK.

The study goes around the fact that managers have a number of management tools at their disposal, to help meet the challenges that they face, and analyses the issue from various perspectives. The research explores the use of strategy tools in organizations regarding strategy, analysis, choice and implementation.

One major conclusion, related to my point, is this:

“ Managers consider strategy tools more useful for analysis and sense-making purposes than for making and implementing decisions; this may mean that more emphasis is required during training and education on those tools that assist managers with making and implementation decisions.

Managers do not choose tools based on their relevance to the topics they intend to address, but they chose those that are easier to understand and use, as well as those that hold the highest level of legitimacy with their peers – i.e. the best known and most frequently used.

Not that this necessarily makes a difference to outcomes as we did not identify relevant differences in the type of tools used.”

Regarding the reasons for which managers are using strategy toolkits, the results were as follows:

“The main reason for using strategy tools is to enable managers to make sense of the environment, and in particular the external environment, confirming that managers are highly concerned about the external events surrounding their companies and use strategy tools to interpret those events. It is worth noting that managers perceive greater value in the use of tools for performing strategy analysis, which typically focuses on the external environment.

“Be certain about a particular course of action’ is the reason that scored the lowest. This suggests that managers consider tools less important as means to act confidently, than as a way to make sense of the environment, strategic issues and the organization – the tools most used by managers seem less appropriate to trigger action than to perform analyses.”

The reasons for dropping strategy tools:

– hard to interpret :   5.15%

– hard to turn to action:   12.1%

– hard decide parameters:   11.5%

– time consuming:  12.48%

– unknown to others in organization: 21.22%

– irrelevant to current job:  25.34%

– others:  12.21%

The implementation part is the least covered, no matter the area of management, as the study also confirms.

Regarding crisis management, where the prevention and responding are the most important stages as they are critical to business continuity – from my point of view the software is non-existing, as it’s all about “doing” here (using immediate cash and influencing directly and instantly a company’s cash-flow and all financial indicators that must be achieved).

That’s why I say we need some greatest hits in the area, welcomed for both economy and politics, as they are strongly related.

Another personal perception is that the simplest the software is, the highest is the management creativity and the time available for innovation at the top management level.

A crisis management software – must take into account a minimum of fundamental factors:

– must be very simple to use and understand by all members of the executive staff (as they are diverse in areas of expertise;

– must have a very high function in prevention, control and implementation;

– must be well connected to the p&l, budgets and forecasts (as we are more interested to solve a crisis situation with the resources available without affecting the financial situations – at least that’s the main objective we aim for);

– must be well connected to various external threads and opportunities

– must be very well connected to communication strategy and systems implemented regarding this key matter

A crisis situation solved with large external resources can deeply affect the financial indicators for months or even years, especially during these hard times when sales are the most affected. And I am wondering if solving it on the interface is enough, as the core purpose of any business is profit and cash.

The main challenge today is to remember the basics.

We have to gain high impact by using low resources while walking on moving sands regarding the very delicate global market rearrangement and transformation. Everyone can manage a company with money at discretion. In fact, you don’t even have to be so good. That’s not management, that’s observing.

If we have substantial lower budgets for current activity, and we deal with critical issues regarding the basics (low sales, layoffs, etc), imagine how little we have for crisis situations – as intern resources, and how unprepared and vulnerable we are if an expensive ball hits the boat. In fact, nowadays it doesn’t have to be so expensive in order to create high problems.

If the innovation in business passes through such a critical time of lack of inspiration and vision, imagine how critical it is from the crisis management perspective.

If we have such major management difficulties to respond to the ordinary, how will we be able to respond to the extraordinary?

The question regarding the toys and tools – when it comes to implementation and control functions is still standing:what if it happens now?

We must bring more innovation towards improving and developing the action/implementation process related software in order to facilitate better the prevention, action and control functions.

It seems we need a better balance here.

(Article written in 2011)


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