Term Paper: Business Management and Business Policy

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Business Management and Business Policy

1. Consider and discuss the role of strategy implementation. In your own

words, explain why the textbook authors referred to strategy

implementation as the point where "the rubber hits the road."

In every company there is an ongoing debate of which strategy to pursue in

each specific market of interest, including the execution of each strategy

components. Often there are many options on just which strategy is the

best possible one to move a company forward to its goals. The essence of

strategy implementation is in synchronizing the many departments and their

processes together to achieve a common objective. As simple as this

sounds, the extensive collaboration and coordination between departments

can be time-consuming and often requires intensive project management

skills. Many companies are particularly proud of their ability to execute

strategies and gain results, including the ability to define steps for

successful strategy implementation. The ability of a company to fulfill

their claims of strategy execution and implementation along with achieving

intended results is what the authors call "where the rubber hits the road".

The most challenging aspects of strategy implementation however are

reconciling potentially conflicting and even disconnected goals of

departments to achieve a common aim. Synchronizing all available

resources, departments, processes, products and people to achieve a common

objective is what best practices in strategy implementation is all about.

From this standpoint you can see what the authors mean when they mention

that "the rubber meets the road" is where strategy and the many efforts to

synchronize and coordinate implementation meet.

2. Japanese corporations typically involve many more organizational levels

and people in development of implementation plans than do United States

corporations. Discuss how this affects the implementation process. Do

you consider this an advantage or a detriment to the success of the

implementation of strategy? Justify your answer.

Japanese corporations are by nature highly driven for the need for

consensus in all decision-making activities. This originates form their

cultural and social values, and it permeates Japanese corporations'

approach to decision-making. There is a familiar saying in Japan of "the

nail that sticks out gets nailed down" stressing the high level of

conformity that pervades that culture. The work of

Geert Hofstede (2006) illustrates this aspect of the Japanese culture

through his analysis of cultural dimensions. Visiting Hofstede's website

graphically illustrates the differences between the Japanese and U.S.

cultures for example. By western standards this seems extreme and often

time-consuming, adding days or weeks to the decision making process and the

implementation of strategies. Yet from within Japanese corporations, this

approach to consensus-building actually ensures a higher level of

synchronization and collaboration between and among departments. While the

implementation process is slower, when the actual strategies are

impelemtned they are done so with a much higher level of coordination than

would have been possible without the high amount of consensus building that

goes on. For strategic, long-range and fundamental decisions regarding

the direction of a company, this approach to consensus building is

exceptionally strong in ensuring collaboration and coordination across a

company. Where this practice becomes a detriment when decisions need to be

made quickly and agility needs to be achieved. In this instance the

consensus-building approach can be a liability. To generalize the value of

consensus-building across organizational departments and across levels,

it's clear that there is much value in collaboration and coordination.

Optimally there needs to be a balance however to ensure the strategic

issues get the depth of analysis and coordination at implementation

required while the shorter-term decisions get implemented quickly enough to

be relevant in rapidly changing markets.

3. One of the current managers of an SBU is capable, but does not appear to

have the skills and experiences necessary to implement a strategy that

is vital to the success of the firm. As CEO, discuss the options

available to you that could improve this manager-strategy fit. Which

option do you see as the most difficult to accomplish? Why?

In the instance where a manager of an SBU has excellent skills at managing

the business unit but lacks the specific skills to accomplish a specific

strategy, there are many approaches to resolving this problem. By far the

best approach is to recommend to the manager experts in the specific area

of strategy being implemented and offer to bring on a consultant or expert

as part of the persons' staff. It is critical to not replace the manager,

but provide them with expert-level resources to assist them in

accomplishing the strategy. In general when a manager doesn't have the

skill to implement a strategy the best approach is to surround them with

experts in their field. Another strategy is to create a cross-functional

team to complete the strategy implementation, as the tasks of

implementation may be bigger than a single manager should be tasked with.

The last and most difficult option is to replace the manager with someone

who can implement the strategy. Often this is the most rash and causes the

manager to eventually leave the company, as it is in effect a demotion.

Instead, when a manager is struggling to implement a strategy it is best to

surround them with experts and provide exceptionally high levels of support

to increase their chances of succeeding.

4. The text pointed out the importance of assessing the strategy-culture

compatibility, when implementing a new strategy. Do you feel that

culture follows strategy or does strategy follow culture? Justify your


The bottom line is that over time, they influence one another. In the

short-term, culture has a major impact on strategy and often acts as a

"filter" applied to any potential strategy. Included in the cultural

"filter" so to speak that is used within company cultures to evaluate

strategies include the time required to complete the implementation, the

extent of collaboration or coordination required, the relative level of

spending relative to other priorities, and the measurement of results.

Often cultures dictate the scope of strategies at their beginning, the

expectations of their performance while in progress, and the evaluation of

the results of strategies at the end. Schein (1983) has defined culture as


For an organizational culture to exist there must be a definable

organization in the sense of a number of people interacting with each other

for the purpose of accomplishing some goal in their defined environment.

The founder of an organization simultaneously creates such a group and, by

force of his or her personality, begins to shape the culture of that group.

But the culture of that new group is not there until the group has had its

own history of overcoming various crises of growth and survival, and has

worked out solutions for how to cope with its external problems of

adaptation and its internal problems of creating a workable set of

relationship rules.

As Schein (1983) notes, culture has a significant short-term impact on

strategies, in fact all activity in a organization. Over time, leadership

can change culture through more aggressive use of strategies, more

accountability over results, and a stronger focus on aligning strategies to

customer needs. To change culture however takes much time, much effort,

and much intensity on the part of a leader. Both the formal and informal

organization structures need to change to make culture significantly shift

over time. There are many examples of leaders changing the culture of a

company to make it more effective at executing its strategies. GE's Jack

Welch is a classic example of how a leader, working over time to create a

strong management team and culture focused on excellence of execution, can

significantly change a company's culture.

The bottom line is that in the short-run a culture will have a stronger

influence on strategy, yet in the long-run, strategy has a greater

potential to influence culture. This is especially the case with leaders

who bring their own priorities and in many cases, urgency for change to


5. Explain why goal displacement and short-run orientation are likely side

effects of the monitoring of performance. As CEO of a corporation, what

measures could you take to avoid these side effects? Is there a measure

that can totally eliminate either side effect? Why or why not?

There is a definite correlation between goal displacement and the

development of short-run orientations towards performance in many

companies. The tendency to do only the tasks that will have the greatest

possible impact on short-term performance begin to dominate much of the

strategies, tactics and decisions of companies that reward short-term

gains. There doesn't need to be a mutual exclusivity to the development of

short-term strategies at the expense of long-term gains; in fact many

companies attempt to combine each of them to attain higher levels of

efficiency and performance. The majority of companies however focus purely

on short-run results, often at the expense of patiently creating the

foundation for future long-term gains. The challenge for any CEO is to

create short-run objectives that over time contribute to long-term gains,

and in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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