The Road to Success: A Career Manual - How to Advance to the Top

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Authors: Alexander Margulis. Paperback ISBN: Imprint: Academic Press. Published Date: 27th September Page Count: For regional delivery times, please check When will I receive my book? Sorry, this product is currently out of stock. Flexible - Read on multiple operating systems and devices. Easily read eBooks on smart phones, computers, or any eBook readers, including Kindle. Institutional Subscription. Free Shipping Free global shipping No minimum order. Those starting careers in academia or business.

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Evan Carmichael's COMPLETE GUIDE to SUCCESS!

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The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution

But Contents are same as US Edition. Satisfaction Guaranteed. Book Description Elsevier India. International Edition. Book Condition: New. That allowed us to rank all 17 traits in order of their relative influence. From our survey research drawn from more than 26, people in 31 companies, we have distilled the traits that make organizations effective at implementing strategy.

Here they are, in order of importance. Ranking the traits makes clear how important decision rights and information are to effective strategy execution. The first eight traits map directly to decision rights and information.

Only three of the 17 traits relate to structure, and none of those ranks higher than 13th. Blurring of decision rights tends to occur as a company matures. Young organizations are generally too busy getting things done to define roles and responsibilities clearly at the outset. And why should they? So for a time, things work out well enough.

As the company grows, however, executives come and go, bringing in with them and taking away different expectations, and over time the approval process gets ever more convoluted and murky. One global consumer-durables company found this out the hard way. It was so rife with people making competing and conflicting decisions that it was hard to find anyone below the CEO who felt truly accountable for profitability. The company was organized into 16 product divisions aggregated into three geographic groups—North America, Europe, and International.

Decisions made by divisional and geographic leaders were routinely overridden by functional leaders.

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Overhead costs began to mount as the divisions added staff to help them create bulletproof cases to challenge corporate decisions. Decisions stalled while divisions negotiated with functions, each layer weighing in with questions. Functional staffers in the divisions financial analysts, for example often deferred to their higher-ups in corporate rather than their division vice president, since functional leaders were responsible for rewards and promotions. Only the CEO and his executive team had the discretion to resolve disputes.

All of these symptoms fed on one another and collectively hampered execution—until a new CEO came in. The new chief executive chose to focus less on cost control and more on profitable growth by redefining the divisions to focus on consumers. As part of the new organizational model, the CEO designated accountability for profits unambiguously to the divisions and also gave them the authority to draw on functional activities to support their goals as well as more control of the budget. For the most part, the functional leaders understood the market realities—and that change entailed some adjustments to the operating model of the business.

Headquarters can serve a powerful function in identifying patterns and promulgating best practices throughout business segments and geographic regions. But it can play this coordinating role only if it has accurate and up-to-date market intelligence. Otherwise, it will tend to impose its own agenda and policies rather than defer to operations that are much closer to the customer.

Consider the case of heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar. Decision rights were hoarded at the top by functional general offices located at headquarters in Peoria, Illinois, while much of the information needed to make those decisions resided in the field with sales managers. We tested organizational effectiveness by having people fill out an online diagnostic, a tool comprising 19 questions 17 that describe organizational traits and two that describe outcomes.

To determine which of the 17 traits in our profiler are most strongly associated with excellence in execution, we looked at 31 companies in our database for which we had responses from at least individual anonymously completed profiles, for a total of 26, responses. Finally, we indexed the result to a point scale. Pricing, for example, was based on cost and determined not by market realities but by the pricing general office in Peoria. In , the company posted the first annual loss in its almostyear history. By the end of , Caterpillar had lost a billion dollars.

Ironically, the way to ensure that the right information flowed to headquarters was to make sure the right decisions were made much further down the organization. By delegating operational responsibility to the people closer to the action, top executives were free to focus on more global strategic issues.

The functional general offices that had been all-powerful ceased to exist, literally overnight. Their talent and expertise, including engineering, pricing, and manufacturing, were parceled out to the new business units, which could now design their own products, develop their own manufacturing processes and schedules, and set their own prices. The move dramatically decentralized decision rights, giving the units control over market decisions. With this accurate, up-to-date, and directly comparable information, senior decision makers at headquarters could make smart strategic choices and trade-offs rather than use outdated sales data to make ineffective, tactical marketing decisions.

Within 18 months, the company was working in the new model.

2. Begin with Performance Planning

And that transition was very quick because it was decisive and it was complete; it was thorough; it was universal, worldwide, all at one time. Whether someone is second-guessing depends on your vantage point. Recently, we worked with a global charitable organization dedicated to alleviating poverty. It had a problem others might envy: It was suffering from the strain brought on by a rapid growth in donations and a corresponding increase in the depth and breadth of its program offerings. As you might expect, this nonprofit was populated with people on a mission who took intense personal ownership of projects.

It did not reward the delegation of even the most mundane administrative tasks. Country-level managers, for example, would personally oversee copier repairs. Second-guessing was an art form. When there was doubt over who was empowered to make a decision, the default was often to have a series of meetings in which no decision was reached.

When decisions were finally made, they had generally been vetted by so many parties that no one person could be held accountable. An effort to expedite decision-making through restructuring—by collocating key leaders with subject-matter experts in newly established central and regional centers of excellence—became instead another logjam. Second-guessing was an art form: When decisions were finally made, they had generally been vetted by so many parties that no one person could be held accountable.

We worked with them to design a decision-making map, a tool to help identify where different types of decisions should be taken, and with it they clarified and enhanced decision rights at all levels of management. All managers were then actively encouraged to delegate standard operational tasks. Once people had a clear idea of what decisions they should and should not be making, holding them accountable for decisions felt fair. When information does not flow horizontally across different parts of the company, units behave like silos, forfeiting economies of scale and the transfer of best practices.

Since scores for even the strong companies are pretty low, though, this is an issue that most companies can work on. A cautionary tale comes from a business-to-business company whose customer and product teams failed to collaborate in serving a key segment: large, cross-product customers. To manage relationships with important clients, the company had established a customer-focused marketing group, which developed customer outreach programs, innovative pricing models, and tailored promotions and discounts. But this group issued no clear and consistent reports of its initiatives and progress to the product units and had difficulty securing time with the regular cross-unit management to discuss key performance issues.

So the units were not aware, and had little faith, that this new division was making constructive inroads into a key customer segment.


But as the market became more competitive, customers began to view the firm as unreliable and, generally, as a difficult supplier, and they became increasingly reluctant to enter into favorable relationships. The customer division became responsible for issuing regular reports to the product units showing performance against targets, by product and geographic region, and for supplying a supporting root-cause analysis.

A standing performance-management meeting was placed on the schedule every quarter, creating a forum for exchanging information face-to-face and discussing outstanding issues. These moves bred the broader organizational trust required for collaboration. Rational decisions are necessarily bounded by the information available to employees. They can hardly be faulted, even if their decision is—in the light of full information—wrong. We saw this unhealthy dynamic play out at a large, diversified financial-services client, which had been built through a series of successful mergers of small regional banks. In combining operations, managers had chosen to separate front-office bankers who sold loans from back-office support groups who did risk assessments, placing each in a different reporting relationship and, in many cases, in different locations. Unfortunately, they failed to institute the necessary information and motivation links to ensure smooth operations.

As a result, each pursued different, and often competing, goals. For example, salespeople would routinely enter into highly customized one-off deals with clients that cost the company more than they made in revenues.

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Sales did not have a clear understanding of the cost and complexity implications of these transactions. Without sufficient information, sales staff believed that the back-end people were sabotaging their deals, while the support groups considered the front-end people to be cowboys. They standardized the end-to-end processes used in the majority of deals and allowed for customization only in select circumstances. For these customized deals, they established clear back-office processes and analytical support tools to arm salespeople with accurate information on the cost implications of the proposed transactions.

At the same time, they rolled out common reporting standards and tools for both the front- and back-office operations to ensure that each group had access to the same data and metrics when making decisions.

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