It can be extremely stressful for organizations to hit their numbers, especially so for the executives who are in charge of responding to the demands of shareholders and are focused on making a company profitable again. When it comes to figuring out how to manage business dynamics, our experience suggests that companies can take one of two approaches – one results in poor results and blame, while the other yields positive results and an energized workforce. Bottom line: don’t start blaming each other or pointing fingers. Think about new viable options and what you could have done differently. There is no point in arguing about failed past attempts when you should be focused on making a better change for the future.
It is important to understand that demand drives a business and without demand, there is no business. Successful execution of a business strategy requires focus and competence in the following three areas:
- Decision Making
- Telling it Like it is
Developing a Continuous Communication Culture
One of the best ways to ensure a continuous communication culture is to develop a robust Demand Review (monthly) as part of the Integrated Business Planning process. This Demand Review should focus on the plans and assumptions for influencing timing, level, and composition of demand in order to accomplish a company’s business objectives and goals.
When changes occur that potentially impact the ability to achieve the business goals and strategies, sales and marketing managers should communicate to those who will need to adapt to the change, such as finance and supply chain organizations.
People should not be afraid to communicate when problems may be developing that threaten the organization’s ability to achieve business goals and strategies. Continuous communication arms both leadership and managers with the freshest set of assumptions upon which to base decisions to ensure that efficient and effective execution of plans and strategies are in place.
Driving Decisions to The Right Level
During a monthly demand strategy review, it is important to review how all categories of your business are aligned to your overall business strategy. The review of assumptions in a monthly Demand Review will help drive discussions about strategic objectives and provide valuable information about how and when to realign to objectives as market conditions change.
It is paramount that decision-making roles within a company are clearly defined and agreed upon. This allows managers to know what types of decisions they are empowered to make and then inform the leadership team of the decisions. Equally important: the leadership team must make the decisions that are theirs to make. The leadership team also must expect and support honesty and transparency.
Telling The Story Quickly
When information, understanding, and decision making is needed, there can be a tendency to develop too much raw information, which can paralyze decision making. Having the ability to distill information to its essence is critical to making sound, impactful decisions in a timely manner.
There are multiple ways we have witnessed clients are communicating strategic execution, such as the use of a handout, a PowerPoint presentation, dashboards…etc. However, we recommend developing concise visuals targeted for specific levels in the organization. These visuals aid discussion and should quickly tell the story of whether the business is on track to achieve a specific objective or strategy.
Overall, linking strategy to Demand Management and the Integrated Business Planning process creates a greater focus throughout the business on strategic priorities. This allows for better investment decisions to be made on trade spend, innovation, and inventory, for example.
Read my latest white paper on this very topic: Want to Execute Your Strategy and Improve Financial Performance? Focus on Demand Management.
Want to delve deeper? Watch the webinar on the same topic.