The Strathmore University Business School (SBS) as part of its executive education programme activities held a knowledge session dubbed ‘Successful Strategy Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done’ facilitated by Mr. Isaac Orolugbagbe, adjunct lecturer. The session involved two groups, one from UAP Old Mutual, an insurance company with offices across Africa whose senior managers previously attended a customised leadership program at SBS. The second team was from Kengen, an electric power generation company in Kenya, producing about 75 percent of electricity capacity installed in the country.
Mr. Orolugbagbe was passionate in his delivery, defining strategy as the bridge that links the gap between promises and results. As stated by the conference board survey of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) 2014, “CEOs rate strategy execution as the #1 or #2 most challenging issue”. Mr. Orolugbagbe reiterated, “If your strategy can not be implemented, you are wasting your time”.
When it came down to a discussion on corporates that are a tremendous example on strategy execution the participants mentioned Southwest Airlines. It was implied that those who have had the opportunity to use their services are privy to their exceptional customer service experience. The airline website even states that, “We like to think of ourselves as a Customer Service company that happens to fly airplanes on schedule, with personality and perks along the way”.
He spoke of the importance of customer engagement in the process of strategy development noting that “different people have different problems, we need to engage our customers in order to find out these problems”. He went on to state that “You don’t know who is coming to wipe you out of your own industry”. Mr. Orolugbagbe gave an example of M-pesa, a mobile money transfer service that enables you to send money in all over Kenya, the service has been utilized by so many Kenyans and is now a threat to the banking industry.
The lecture wouldn’t be complete without the mention of Mr. Orolugbagbe’s requirements for strategy execution and implementation. We begin by building an organization with competencies and capabilities, he emphasized on the need for proper trained staff in order to see the company’s activities through to completion. Second, attract resources to support execution. Third, the need for proper policies and procedures that ensure customer satisfaction and retention. He emphasized that the policies need to be flexible to accommodate changes in line with customer feedback saying, “procedures can be overlooked in profit making instances”. Fourth, you need to establish best practices and strive for continuous improvement remembering that “any product designed with client input is always successful” He said. Fifth, install information systems aimed at tending to customer needs, an example is a call center, ensuring your staff do not let the phones ring beyond 3 times before they are answered.
Sixth, tying rewards and incentives to achievement of targets and strategy execution, ensuring that we reward work and not our ethnic ties or biases. In the event that we are top of the market we need not become complacent, “if you have no one to compete with, compete with yourself” Said Mr. Orolugbagbe.
These were but some of the suggestions he set forth reminding the participants to have cultures and value systems that support strategy as well as proper leadership that will drive implementation and strategy management. “You cannot separate leadership from management” said Mr. Orolugbagbe as he reiterated further reasons for strategy failure. We can only hope for implementation of the details of these great lectures.