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Implementing Strategies: Management and Operations Issues

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Strategic management process starts with development of mission and vision statements and then, internal and external audits will be performed in order to establish long-term objectives which will be tried to reach through generation, evaluation and selection of strategies. Yet, the strategic management process does not end when the firm decides what strategy or strategies to pursue. Strategic thoughts must be translated into strategic actions. Even the most technically perfect strategic plan will serve little purpose if it is not implemented. However, implementing strategy affects an organization from top to bottom. It affects all functional areas of a business, thus, without understanding and commitment, strategy-implementation efforts face major problems.

The Nature of Strategy Implementation

Although inextricably linked, strategy implementation is fundamentally different from strategy formulation as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Strategy Formulation vs. Strategy Implementation

Strategy Formulation Strategy Implementation

Positioning forces before action Managing forces during action

Focuses on effectiveness Focuses on efficiency

Primarily an intellectual process Primarily an operational process

Requires good intuitive and analytical skills Requires special motivation and leadership skills

Requires coordination among a few individuals Requires coordination among many individuals

Management Perspectives

In all but the smallest organizations, the transition from strategy formulation to strategy implementation requires a shift from strategists to divisional and functional managers. Implementation problems can arise because of this shift in responsibility, especially if strategy-formulation decisions come as a surprise to middle and lower-level managers.

Since managers and employees are motivated more by self-interests than by organizational interests, unless the two coincide, it is essential that divisional and functional managers be involved as much as possible in strategy formulation activities. And of equal importance, strategists must be also involved as much as possible in strategy implementation activities. Moreover, the rationale for objectives and strategies should be understood and clearly communicated throughout the organization. Major competitors' accomplishments, products, plans, actions, and performance should be apparent to all organizational members. Major external opportunities and threats should be clear,



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