When Continuous Improvement becomes too hard, leadership checks out or avoids all together. The authors of, Has Your CI Program Gone from the Five Whys to Why Bother? by Dean and Yeater, recently posted on BTOES Insights, got it right. The short term benefits in about three years is all the excitement and the extent of business leadership vision. Actually, some leadership doesn’t make it that far. To be fair, most business, in North America for certain, are short term oriented in response to earning calls and the challenge of faster market changes with disruptive competitors. Hence, the leader’s choice to build long term strategy is short circuited by the tyrant of the urgent. In light of this, as a leader you will need to make a conscious effort to balance short and long term.
Consider the Threat versus Opportunities Matrix (TOM), from Change Acceleration Process (CAP), as a simple and powerful enhancer of strategic thinking to accelerate your change.
The TOM, is a shortened version of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Specifically, TOM frames threats to the organization in short and long term view. See the table below.
When seen side by side, recognizing threat can be turned to an opportunity becomes clearer.
A short example of a business leader capturing their own thoughts around current conditions, and the longer term view. Of course, this can be done on a tablet app or even on a piece of paper. With leadership staff, a discussion about threats and opportunities across the short and long term, bring the current situation in relation to their assigned mission, goals, and objective. A shared understanding of the need will emerge, and can form a burning platform, and may be a start for another round of breakthrough objectives.
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Another example, as part of strategic planning cycle, a Threat vs. Opportunity Matrix (TOM) could be a companion to the build vs buy decision. What would be the threats and opportunities surrounding build vs buy? Clearly, new revenue is the opportunity, but what would the threats be for building the capability vs buying it through merger and acquisition? The unknowns of acquisition such as hidden
debt of the acquiree weighted against the speed to new revenue and access to the customer list. Are synergies across product lines, organization, and shared services a threat or opportunity? To what extent is the additional time needed to build a threat or opportunity given current conditions? Are we really capable? What capacity do we really have to take on either of these across the short and long term? Have we invested enough so far to recognize how much agility we really have that prepares us to succeed? The answer to this question can reveal if the leadership has the vision for Operational Excellence beyond the first three years.
Given the failure rates for mergers and acquisitions is in the 70%-90% range, perhaps the threats are not clearly understood? Dean and Yeater point to the build capability and capacity to acquire and keep customers, increase revenue, remain profitable, and grow market share. All the while, avoiding the significant burden of more and more debt. This second approach, of course is hard, but comes with great reward that is consistent in both the short and long term.
Threat versus Opportunities Matrix (TOM), from Change Acceleration Process (CAP), is a simple and useful tool to create a shared need to set new strategy, and avoid the trap set by the tyrant of the urgent.
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