Planning an Effective Policy Deployment Process

Oct. 28, 2009
Step 1: Don't confuse strategy with deployment

Companies fail to achieve strategic goals for a variety of reasons. They include a lack of understanding by the workforce of the strategy, an executive team that spends little time addressing strategy, and a lack of resources devoted to pursuing strategy. Poor outcomes can be avoided, however, by creating and pursuing a disciplined policy deployment process that is understood and followed by the entire workforce.

Creating an effective policy deployment process was the topic of a recent Webinar led by Bob Dean, co-founder of TBM Consulting Group. His first words of advice: Know the difference between a strategic plan and strategy deployment. The strategic plan, he explained, is the three- to five-year vision of where you want an organization to be. Strategy deployment, on the other hand, is the one-year plan or process instituted to break down that vision into short-term goals that can be assigned, measured, provided with resources, and revisited to determine progress.

Dean's entire presentation is one of several presentations that comprised IndustryWeek's Operational Excellence Online Conference.

That said, several audience members presented questions to Dean at the conclusion of the event. A few of those questions -- as well as Dean's answers -- are presented here:

Q: How do you determine the right amount of breakthrough and kaizen so you don't overwhelm any one department?

A: The annual improvement priorities.... generally four to six improvement priorities are what we would find in most organizations. Very few would have more than that and when you get eight, 10, 12 improvement priorities you begin to dilute resources and you begin to dilute where we need to go. How you accomplish breakthrough is very focused, critical few improvement priorities.

Q: In the early years of policy deployment is it best to stick to hard and fast rules rather than getting creative?

A: I'm chuckling a little bit because hard and fast means being more disciplined and being creative to me means maybe being more undisciplined. It's a delicate balance. In terms of management process I think rules are fairly hard and fast. Management process should be if I'm not hitting red I want a team to report out on why they're not hitting red and I want them to show data that supports why they're working on the things that they're working onbut being creative about maybe the different tools that we use and how we use the tools you can be creative about how you problem solve, using data obviouslybut the management process, by being hard and fastthat is something I wouldn't want an organization to be creative about. That leads to ineffective results.

Q: With the absence of management leadership and full support, can policy deployment and lean transformation succeed?

A: I think it can. It's a longer journey and it goes back to the question I asked at the beginning. [Are] you using policy deployment primarily in the operations end of the business or are you using it as a full strategy? That is the differentiation between organizations that move the needle a little bit with lean and organizations that move the needle a lot with lean. You can use policy deployment effectively inside the operations end of the business, but you are going to run into issues within the organization at some point in time, generally around new product and how we're pushing new product out and the interfaces with the operations end of the business and how we're driving total costs through the system versus just a manufacturing cost. That's the time where you really have to extend out beyond the operations and get them on board. And that's a lot of times the differentiation between true lean companies and people that are committed to lean only from an operational and manufacturing cost reduction standpoint.

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