Gaining a Clearer Understanding of Corporate Objectives, Purpose and Direction
There is a valuable corporate asset that lies hidden in most organizations—the information, intelligence and expertise resident in their own corporate management teams. Companies that successfully mine this corporate knowledge are often able to create more effective marketing strategies, stronger value propositions, improved processes, increased customer value, and innovative product/service offerings. The net result is operational excellence, greater efficiency and enhanced profitability.
While most executives are more than willing to share what they know to help the greater corporate good, many organizations present geographic, structural and/or cultural hurdles that thwart this natural inclination. In such an environment, a carefully constructed, systematic program can help create the focused interaction that enables key decision makers to identify and implement an organization’s own best practices.
The Search for Internal Best Practices
An internal “Best Practices Program” that consciously dismantles organizational barriers to share corporate knowledge can be one of the fastest and most effective ways to achieve organizational improvements. Unlike corporate reengineering and other change efforts, these internal programs enable an organization to tap into the real experiences, knowledge and intelligence of those who have won their stripes dealing with the organization’s culture and challenges.
The simple objective of an internal Best Practices Program is to identify the most effective existing practices and determine how to adapt and improve them for implementation throughout the organization. We believe that a deliberate, multi-step process can help surface the full range of relevant issues and ensure that they are addressed with the required intensity. Key steps in the development of an internal Best Practices Program include:
- Participation. The involvement of key decision makers from various disciplines is critical to the success of an internal Best Practices Program. The first step, therefore, is to assemble a management team that includes representatives from all functional areas.
- Idea Audit. Initially, the selected management team should brainstorm ideas, issues and approaches in order to identify those initiatives that have the greatest potential to help the organization meet key objectives.
- Building Consensus. The management team can then conduct one or more structured workshops that will not only serve as a forum for further exploration of selected ideas and initiatives, but also encourage a team dynamic and create a sense of ownership within the group.
- During the kick-off meeting, participants address a series of questions and tasks that help them to systematically reach consensus on assumptions and goals for the organization, target markets, growth plans and distribution priorities. They also begin to weigh the viability of various courses of action.
- At subsequent meetings, participants will explore corporate best practices that can potentially help management maximize the efficiencies of the organization in specific areas. Participants prepare in advance of the session so that they can help the group understand, review and evaluate proposed new processes and procedures.
- Taking Action. After each workshop, the management team determines the most appropriate “next steps” based on the issues identified and the degree of consensus reached. For example, a task force could be created to detail the actions and resources required to implement one of the best practices under consideration.
The Bottom Line
An internal Best Practices Program can not only help optimize the efficiency and profitability of corporate changes and improvements, but also generate valuable understanding, insights and joint commitment among management teams. We have successfully conducted our internal Best Practices process in organizations large and small, always with rewarding results. The power of the process is truly remarkable—management teams have walked away with, at the very least, a clearer definition of their objectives and, at best, a thoroughly revitalized sense of purpose and direction.