Blue Ocean - Chapter 7 - Overcoming Organizational Hurdles

 Strategy is always the fun part. Implementation is the messy part. I have heard people say one can even make a bad strategy work with great execution. I wouldn't go that far though but I acknowledged getting a strategy executes is much more tougher and the area where things come apart. 

I have come to view execution as art or innate talent than a science. I mean you can follow step by step project management and change management methodology. But making them work needs that innate instinct that I personally lack. So I tend to view any approaches on this front with cynicism. Let us see what these good professors say.

They break the problem into 4 problems - cognitive, resources. political and motivational. I do see overlap between cognitive, political and motivational. Resources is clear. Now let us see how the other 3 differ from each other. Cognitive is about getting acceptance for your framing of the problem and potential solution. Motivational is the next mile from recognizing the problem and solution to believing actually something can be done versus believing it is unsolvable or out of one's locus of control. Political is the clash of individual or department objectives with organizational objectives - after all what is good for a firm is not going to be uniformly good for everyone and every department.

For all these solutions, the author takes an approach which is essentially Pareto - identify and attack the point that has most impact. So for resources, identify specific areas of highest importance and allocate resources there. And get the resources from areas which consume most resources but probably not that important. Fair enough. But a bit tricky from political standpoint and law of unintended consequences. 

For cognitive, the author takes the Lean approach of Gemba - taking the stakeholders and showing them the problem in action to convince them that the problem exists. The author seems to be against establishing the burning platform through data. From my personal approach I would agree data based approaches lead to over analysis if the other person does not have an open mind. So you need something emotional to overturn cognitive biases.

For motivational, the authors suggests motivating influencers versus trying to motivate everyone and breaking the bigger goal into smaller goals for each group that add up to overall goal. In the police example, the author just shows and example of assigning target to team leads. This makes sense from a point of divide and rule but I didn't see it as identifying influencers and moving them to achieve maximum results. But yes, from a scale to move an organization of thousand, it is easier to motivate hundred people who each lead groups of ten rather than try to motivate all the thousand people. And the method of setting up a comparison between them and creating peer pressure does make sense. That way instead of being overwhelmed by the organizational level targets, each team competes with the others to hit the team targets, resulting in organization achieving its target.

And lastly the political aspect. The authors take a rather pragmatic approach. They don't take a high ground and ask to bring everyone around. They ask to just identify supporters and opponents to your idea. Then create an alliance of supporters and together take on the opponents and neutralize their opposition. The authors suggest to anticipate the moves and plan strategies in advance.

So by and large makes sense and is pragmatic. Though the ideas could have been illustrated with more powerful examples.


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