Strategic management is a dynamic process that encompasses all facets of business. Effective decision making and strategic thinking are required to determine which steps need to be taken to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and must be flexible enough to meet the demands of a continually changing environment. It is the function of all levels of management to be involved in strategic matters, including environmental scanning and analysis, trend forecasts and competitor analysis so as to make better decisions, especially in times of instability.

What is often found is that the business strategy of many companies are monopolised by the CEO. As management attempts to implement the business methodology, the organisation’s operation begins to lack clear direction as they find themselves alienated from the Chief Executive Officer’s strategic vision. Through this process of “autocratic” decision making employees fail to gain ownership of the business policy, leading to underperformance, a lack of motivation and even resentment towards the company. As a result of not incorporating staff into the decision making process, employees begin to develop an “us” and “them” mentality thereby eroding any positive relationship between the various levels of employment. Without these relationships, morale begins to fade and productivity decreases.

Since the employees have been isolated from the decision making process, their inadequate perception of the business strategy becomes evident as the implementation is rolled out. Often the only tool available to realign their understanding is the traditional approach of complex reports that are often poorly understood and difficult to implement. As a result momentum is lost and resources are wasted.

What is needed then is a formula that allows the management team to jointly devise a strategy, debate key issues and evaluate the internal and external environments the organisation may face. Team decision making allows the employee to feel part of the operation of the organisation and therefore develops interest in the success of the company. The responsibility of the business strategy shifts from resting with an individual to the team.

With the group-orientated approach each member is actively involved in detailing and developing the company’s business policies, thus leading to a far greater command of the strategies involved. Improved insight into the procedures allows for the boundaries to be set and maintained, the deliverables to be met and the successful completion of the business plan.

Together a team is able to develop a meaningful, strategic profile for the future of the company that every member can agree upon, as well as an action plan to ensure effective implementation of the strategy. With the management team having intimate knowledge of the proposed business methodology they are able to communicate the processes accurately and timelessly to the employees in their charge so that the strategic vision can filter throughout the organisation. The fact that the decisions are group-orientated, make the team accountable for the success and implementation of the business policies. Further, a framework for governance at several levels assures that all actions can be co-ordinated effectively, even when there are competing priorities and different goals. Effective strategic management is maintained through the ability of the team to take advantage of opportunities and to respond to external change by taking ongoing strategic decisions.

Team management motivates employees by giving them ownership of the strategy, which provides the catalyst that influences their patterns of behaviour. It is this behaviour that will drive the organisation forward and shape its future. Michel Robert, Founding Partner of Decision Processes International (DPI) believes that “the result is a succinct strategy that is clearly understood and maintained by all members, but more importantly, creates a management team that can think and act strategically and independently on a daily basis.”

In contrast to “manager’ decision making, a team focused business plan leaves the individual with a sense of empowerment and willingness to ensure that the strategic themes are constantly reviewed, thus creating an environment that stimulates innovative thought processes. Team management decision making allows for today’s organisations to successfully implement their chosen plans and understand the actions necessary to achieve competitive advantage in the marketplace. An efficient business strategy, which can be achieved through team decision making, entails the effective combination of individuals, leadership processes and technology, all of which can assist with strategic direction and successful service delivery.

 

Written by Greg Carolin, Managing Partner DPI-SA and co-author of  Leadership Pure and Simple