As an organization starts to grow, and the business becomes more complex, the enterprise’s senior leadership will need more time to focus on challenges and opportunities. While they may understand the importance of strategic planning and its management, because of the massive workflow that occupies most of their time, they cannot manage the implementation of strategies effectively and efficiently. Most of the time, the organization focuses on short-term goals, and quick revenue-generating or cost-controlling ideas.
Some organizations manage to engage the team in to a strategic planning session and plan their future, but once the team goes back to their offices, the whirlpool of their routine work consumes their time and energy. They leadership team then usually neither find time to implement the strategies properly, nor are able to monitor or update their strategies to address the changing environment. In this situation, they need someone who would not only help them prepare, but also manage, the implementations of their strategies, and periodically update them as well.
One of the most common challenges for senior leadership is in the management of their strategies and back office processes. The best option, in such a case, is to combine the functions of strategy and back office management in one group heading by a senior professional. This professional must have deep knowledge of strategic planning, experience in facilitating the senior management and running a business, while the other leadership team focus on operations and commercials.
This function can be well defined in the role of a Strategy and Business Organizer (SBO). The introduction of the SBO will help the CEO and leadership team in setting objectives, targeting goals, and then letting the SBO coordinate with the team to come up with detailed strategies, tactics, and action plans. Once the management will adopt the SBO’s recommendations, the SBO will ensure the implementation, set up procedures for regular follow-up, and monitor the external and internal factors indicating (or forcing) a need to review, and if necessary, amending the strategies. In addition, the SBO will hold the office, keep it in order, while the senior leadership concentrate on commercial, and operations will run an organization as an effective and profitable business.
The fundamentals: what can the SBO do?
As the SBO will be responsible for implementing strategies, he/she by default will become a flag runner for converting ideas into reality. The SBO will keep analyzing the internal and external changes that may impact the business, and work like an effective business development officer. He/she provides consultation to the management, and whenever needed, train the team to ensure their smooth adoption of the new processes and developments. He/she will also play a central role among the leadership team, and therefore, will work as a facilitator.
Convert ideas into processes The best idea in the world remains an idea, unless a process is set up in the organization to implement the idea as part of business, and embed it in the system. Great ideas produce no impact if the leadership and the rest of the workforce cannot find the courage, resources, time, and sometimes, funding to take action. Generally, the workforce is trained to execute routines and processes. The leadership may come up with ideas that may be good for the business, but they lack time and effort to find a way giving life to the ideas. In such a scenario, the SBO will take up the responsibility to take action with proper preparation, and efficiently using time at his disposal.
He/she will own the responsibility, regardless of the circumstances. In short, the leadership develops the ideas, and the SBO implements them, and improves them, on a continuous basis. In addition, there will be instances when the SBO will help the team in developing new business models. This is most of the time a drive from the success of the conversion of ideas into reality. In the process of implementing ideas, the SBO will be redefining the future business, as well as its interaction with the closest environment. The SBO will also have to test the business models and outcome of the implementation of ideas to ensure it brings desired results to the organization.
Consultation The SBO, being the expert in strategic planning and management, will act as a consultant for the leadership team. The SBO will thus help the senior management in defining and aligning their strategies based on short to long terms goals. Organizations generally acquire services from the external consultants whenever they need help. However, many organizations use internal consultants to review the processes. The challenge here is that there is no one-stop-shop that can take a full responsibility of the internal consultation. The internal consultants are working in their silos, based on their respective specialties like IT, finance, HR or other areas.
The SBO in this case can provide a broader umbrella and tie their activities with the overall strategic planning, thereby ensuring that they work as a team toward a common goal. Even though the teams have different roles, but their work somehow connected to the other roles, and that is where the SBO has to play a very important connection that develops a joint internal consultants’ team. The SBO will provide clarity about the key skills and competencies needed to succeed as an internal consultant. These key competencies mostly include relationship-building, facilitating and understanding the nature of change, active listening, influencing, and conflict handling. He/she will also develop ability to understand and manage the consultancy process among the team members, and he/she will lead the team’s credibility by acting professionally like an external consultant.
Training The SBO will be an in house trainer for the senior as well as middle management. Corporate management training programs are critical for business managers- and also for corporate training managers. However, external trainers often have little or no idea about the complexities of organizations’ internal processes, and that makes the overall training as a knowledge gaining exercise with little intention to implement within the organization.
The SBO, being the senior executive of an organization, will have as much insight as needed to initiate and deliver a knowledge-based training program that can be effectively implemented within the organization. In fact, the main objective of the training should be to develop such skills in the management, with a specific focus on the organization’s own needs. The organization will then find a massive change in the behaviors and day-to-day attitudes of the management after going through with such a training program. The SBO will thus align education and training with business strategy, and then make corporate training completely relevant.
Business development Enterprises always need to keep reviewing the market situation, analyzing customer growth and their potentials, while also focusing on the slow-moving areas in the business, and constantly looking up for new opportunities.Organizations have thus realized the importance of business developers and the value they bring to the organization, but what they don’t foresee is the connectivity this position can provide internally, if a senior employee of the organization like the SBO oversee this function. The SBO knows about the products and services the organization can offer, and having in-depth understanding of the competition, he/she can effectively determine the organization’s desired market positioning.
The SBO can effectively assess the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), and keep a constant watch on the SWOT analysis to improve the situation in the organizations’ favor. This is generally a neglected part, as the team that develops the SWOT analysis does not often follow up on it- they don’t keep capitalizing on the strengths and opportunities, and sometimes even fail to control the weaknesses and threats. This usually happens because no one take charge of this- the SBO can be the person to work on this analysis and ensure a regular follow-up on it.
Facilitation Another major function of the SBO is to ensure the senior management always works in harmony and have a synchronized approach to taking the business forward. The SBO will be playing in the middle, and primarily gaining the team’s commitment on the corporate strategy with detailed action plans to achieve the goals. Time to time, the SBO will also engage teams in brainstorming (and even reverse brainstorming sessions) to generate thought provoking ideas that make business sense.
The big question: should the SBO function be in-house or outsourced?
At this point, the question arises: should an organization have the SBO role filled by a full time employee, or should it avoid such complications and just outsource the function? Ideally, an organization should have its own resource in this role, especially at the senior executive level for better consistency, insights, and long-term relationships with the leadership. However, outsourcing this function also has its own benefits. After all, larger organizations can afford the cost of an SBO, but small and medium-sized organizations may find outsourcing more cost-effective.
Outsourcing can also be seen as a safer option, with a professional organization managing such strategies instead of being dependent on one person. Another advantage that an organization gains by outsourcing this function is to get (and access) someone’s technical expertise who brings along industry best practices right from the beginning, instead of having to develop the SBO role internally through a trial-and-error model.
With greater knowledge of the industry, an outsourced SBO can effectively complete tasks faster, and with better quality output, and also let the organization concentrate on its core business process. Regardless of the option one chooses, it should be clear by now that the SBO can help realize an organization’s overall goals- and help solidify its success over the long-term. All the best!