This guest post by Mark Polman speaks to the power of both team work and a disciplined strategy in an organization. When you harness the two, you help your company complement implements its strategy and achieve its objectives very fast. – TCW
7 Steps to Building a Powerful Strategic Management Team
When your company is faced with a major opportunity or challenge, how do you go about managing it? If for example you’ve decided that your IT system is dated and inefficient and you want to gut it and install a new enterprise wide system, who do you turn to to get the job done? The CIO? After all, the IT department reports to him or her so isn’t that the logical way to go? But if you think about it for a moment, the function of IT is to serve the rest of the company. Literally every department is a stakeholder in the efficiency of the system that delivers them information. How much more efficient would it be to have the actual stakeholders determine what is needed and how to implement the plan? This efficiency, this doing it right the first time is the reason that strategic management teams are becoming more and more popular.
But how do you create these teams? Who should be on them and what responsibilities should they have? Well here are a few ideas on just how to develop and support the effort.
1. Core team members
A core team of between three and ten members should be selected from senior leadership who are also stakeholders in the project. This will result in a team made up of multiple disciplines whose combined point of view will best reflect the company’s culture and focus. A team leader should either be appointed, or elected by other team leaders.
The team should be given a broad objective by the CEO and it should be based on “benefits” to the organization rather than specifications. Using the IT example, the objectives may be lower production costs, better market position, increased customer satisfaction and increased new value through innovation. The team then takes those broad strokes, and because they represent every affected department, work out solutions to achieve the objective. Can you see the difference? This is not the IT department telling the rest of the company “Here’s your new system” it is the end users saying “This is what we want a new system to do”.
This is where a CEO has to have courage. The role of the strategic management team is not advisor to the CEO, they are decision makers. Knowing that their actions will have a direct impact on how the company operates is the secret to successful management teams. Their approach to the task is considerably different and far more focused than if they were simply assigned to a committee to make suggestions. As decision makers the company needs to invest in them the resources and authority to get their task done
4. Extended team
The extended team supports the core team by providing additional insights and expertise. The team has as many members as are required by the core group and members may be added or deleted as their expertise is required. At some point, external vendors mat become part of this team. The core team poses the questions and the extended team does the heavy lifting providing the answers.
5. External members
Complex projects may require brining in outside talent to assist the core team in performing their function. Brainstorming for example, is an excellent way to generate many ideas in a short period of time but is most productive when an outside facilitator with experience in brainstorming conducts the session. Likewise with a business coach. If the team bogs down at some point, business coaching can help the team work through the problem solving process.
6. The CEO’s role
While the responsibility and authority for the project rests with the strategic management team, the CEO can obviously have an influence by keeping in close contact and monitoring and measuring progress. Having a close working relationship with the team gives the CEO an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the leadership style that he wants his team to take back to their departments.
7. The organization’s role
Management must be certain to communicate to everyone in the organization that the strategic management team has been formed and that they have absolute authority regarding the project and the cooperation and support of all employees is encouraged and expected. Territorial issues shouldn’t be a problem as the core team is made up of senior leaders from each discipline, however having the company in general support the group can only make the process more efficient.
This team management strategy can not only improve the organizations operation, it is an excellent way to continue the development and education of senior leadership. When it comes to talent, a company’s “bench” can never be too deep.
About the Author: Mark Polan, noted business management expert has first hand experience with team management strategy and understands the powerful synergies that can be generated by combining talent. To find out just how powerful this management method is, and to see if it’s right for your organization, Mark recommends you visit Successful Team Building.