Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

For Romney and Managers Everywhere, How Do You Fix Bad Strategy?

ARCHIVES
Charles Dharapak/AP

On Sunday evening, Politico published a report detailing turmoil, in-fighting and mismanagement within the Romney campaign. Pointing to critics within Romney's own party, the report details the concerns of party insiders about Team Romney's strategy--from missed opportunities in Tampa and an aversion to policy specifics to a hastily assembled acceptance speech and response to the attacks on the US consulate in Libya.

Regardless of politics, the Romney team's current situation is not unique. Many organizations come to this juncture--a juncture where current strategy isn’t sufficient and a course correction is required. Whether running for President or managing an agency, how do you retool ineffective strategy? 

McKinsey Quarterly has a few questions they advise all managers ask themselves when looking to gut check their current strategy: 

  1. Will your strategy beat the [competition]? "As each player responds to and learns from the actions of others, best practice becomes commonplace rather than a market-beating strategy," says the report. "Good strategies emphasize difference…[and] weaker contenders win surprisingly often...when they deploy a divergent strategy.” 
  2. Does your strategy put you ahead of trends? According to the report, "Always look to the edges. How are early adopters and that small cadre of consumers who seem to be ahead of the curve acting? What are small, innovative entrants doing? What technologies under development could change the game?"
  3. Does your strategy rest on privileged insights? As our own Dana Grinshpan discussed last week, data can be comforting—and deceiving. According to the report, "data today can be cheap, accessible, and easily assembled into detailed analyses that leave executives with the comfortable feeling of possessing an informed strategy.” Understand what data is actually telling you and make sure it’s truly useful when informing strategic decision making.
  4. Does your strategy balance commitment and flexibility? "Commitment and flexibility exist in inverse proportion to each other," says the report. "The greater the commitment you make, the less flexibility remains. This tension is one of the core challenges of strategy. Indeed, strategy can be expressed as making the right trade-offs over time between commitment and flexibility.”
  5. Is your strategy contaminated by bias? The report warns against proceeding with strategy colored by your own biases: "The worst offenders include overoptimism (our tendency to hope for the best and believe too much in our own forecasts and abilities), anchoring (tying our valuation of something to an arbitrary reference point), loss aversion (putting too much emphasis on avoiding downsides and so eschewing risks worth taking), the confirmation bias (overweighting information that validates our opinions), herding (taking comfort in following the crowd), and the champion bias (assigning to an idea merit that’s based on the person proposing it)."
  6. Have you translated your strategy into an action plan? "In implementing any new strategy, it’s imperative to define clearly what you are moving from and where you are moving to,” says the report. "Develop a detailed view of the shifts required to make the move, and ensure that processes and mechanisms, for which individual executives must be accountable, are in place to effect the changes. Quite simply, this is an action plan."

McKinsey’s report is very detailed, with several other critical questions you should ask yourself when reassessing or formulating a strategy. Read more at McKinsey Quarterly.

When you realize a strategy isn't working, how do you course correct? 

Want more Excellence in Government? Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Google + | LinkedIn

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.