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What’s the secret behind successfully implementing a strategy?

Posted on October 30th, 2012 by TimClaes

Defining a strategy is one thing, Implementing a strategy is something else! What ‘s the secret?

The answer itself is simple… it lies in the LITTLE THINGS. Executing the answer is a lot more difficult.

A lot of literature exists on defining strategies, which models to use to lay-out alternative business scenario’s and on frameworks to perform all kinds of SWOT analyses. A lot of literature event exist on simply defining what ‘strategy’ really means. A book I can recommend in this area is called ‘Strategy Safari’ (which was recommended to me by a professor from the Vlerick Business School, Marcus Alexander) . It gives you an interesting perspective on possible views on how to look towards ‘strategy’. Different schools of ‘strategy’ are explained. The poem of the 6 blind men who are trying to discribe how an elephant looks like is a very interesting metaphor. We all start from our own perception, depending on what we have experienced so far.

That’s probably also why so many books exist on this topic. Everyone has his own view. And most of them are all true. Even today a lot of lectures and courses are still given on ‘strategy management’, but all too often they primarily only focus on strategy definition. While the art of truely implementing a strategy is often forgotten. And that’s a shame, because here you can make the real difference. It seems to me that we all like to go to the drawing board with all kinds of models and frameworks, but as soon as we need to make our hands dirty, we suddenly forget that also in this area a whole set of best practices exist that can help us to get things done.

The only suggestion I often hear to tackle this is the magic word ‘change management’ (see other blog post). This is of course true, but it is not enough. Did you ever hear the expression: “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast.”

 Nothing is more true in my opinion. If you really look for a successful implementation of your strategy, it needs to become embedded into your organizational culture. And that is easier said than done. Because you need continuously to pay attention to the desired behaviour. Every little thing counts. The devil is in the details, as they say. And in order to do so you need strong leadership at every level of your organization. You need the right energy in your organization!

Another important ingredient in order to successfully implement a strategy is operational excellence. You can have the right ‘energy’ in place, but is your organization agile enough to deliver on that strategy? Are your processes lean and mean enough? Or do you follow certain processes, because these are simply the ones you have in place and were always there in the past?

So to conclude… the secret behind successfully implementing a strategy is a combination of 3 things:

  1. Define your strategy. This is often the easiest part. 
  2. Engage the people. Understand the culture. Getting the right energy in place is upmost important
  3. Operational excellence. Don’t only do things right, make sure you do the right things. Agility

Short summary on the CIO Leadership Summit

Posted on December 2nd, 2011 by TimClaes

CIO Leadership Summit

Yesterday evening was the first edition of the CIO Leadership Summit at the Chateau du Lac in Genval. Quite a lot of people showed up for the event, the room was very crowded. Many CIO’s of course, but also the press and some CEO’s of multiple Belgian companies were present. The expectations were set.

Overall was the evening ok, only the catering could have been better. The idea of having debate panels about certain CIO Leadership topics was very appealing. (small tip for next edition: try to differentiate the formula from debate to debate, now it was quite heavy – after 3 debates everyone had heard enough) Nevertheless – from an integrator point of view – it was interesting to understand how CIO’s think about certain topics themselves.

The following topics were discussed during the debate panels. I added a few highlights per topic.

1. The future of Infrastructure Management – During the debate opinions were shared about cloud computing and about the true costs of pay per use models. Security was also one of the main concerns during this debate.

2. The connected enterprise – This was a very interesting debate with a lot of interaction between the different CIO’s in the panel. It moved from social networks, to unified communications and digital natives, towards business process integration with customers and suppliers. It was clear that this was a topic on many agenda’s of many CIO’s.

3. The New Mandate of the CIO – This debate opened very interesting. You need to have the basics in place first. Key elements like “trust” and “transparency” were often mentioned by many CIO’s and only then you can start moving to the next phase.


Will social media stimulate open innovation?

Posted on May 30th, 2011 by TimClaes

When will social media finally boost open innovation initiatives?


1. Importance of innovation


I strongly believe in the statement “It is not the strongest that survive, but the ones most responsive to change“, also in a business context. Having said that, innovation is one way of bringing change in the organization. As such innovation becomes an important part of any business strategy, especially open innovation.

2. How to integrate innovation into your organization?


In order for innovation to become truely an integrated part of your organization it needs to be part of your culture, only then you will be able to deliver continuous business innovation. This is easier said then done. A lot of change management needs to be done, but at the same time you – as an organization – need to make clear what you stand for, not only by your mission statement, but also by your mission mindset. What do you believe – as an organization – are your core values and why should your employees be willing to work for your organization/department?

3. Moving to open innovation


And if you take it one step further and start to innovate, not only across departments, but also across multiple organizations, you can start talking about open innovation. It truely opens a whole new world of possibilities. Sharing ideas and talking to people in other industries. Never expected this could be so exciting until I’ve met Jef Staes and the Engine of Innovation Academy. (thanks, Jef!)

4. Social media as accelerator?


But how can you share ideas with people from other organizations? How do you get connected to these people of other industries? This is where the current social media tools come in the play. All the technologies are in place to make this happen: twitter, linkedin groups, facebook, … you name it. But until now I see these social media tools as “one-off” information sharing environments and less as “interactive” information building environments. And this is what you really need when you want to start open innovation initiatives. So we still have a way to go… but that’s ok, we will get there!


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