How to Manifest Your Strategy

How to Manifest Your Strategy

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

All this talk about Industry 4.0, IIoT, Factory of the Future…there is so much to fix today…where do I start? No matter where you are on the corporate ladder; my bet is you have asked yourself this very same question. Well, you’re not alone. This article will explore what I believe to be the answer Strategy Deployment (SD), a powerful leadership standard work process enabling your company to achieve its vision.

“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.” – W. Edwards Deming

Many of you may be familiar with SD. As per Industry Week Magazine, over half of the companies, with 500 employees or more, have some form of the SD process established. SD uses specific tools that can align/focus resources, achieve stretch targets, communicate priorities throughout the organization and provide a means to hold people accountable. It is a key element in your company’s strategic framework as shown below.

Customer Focus CycleBreathing Life into Your Strategy

As a first step, I suggest gathering your leadership for a full-day workshop. I recommend having the workshop off-site to detach leadership from day-to-day fire-fighting, focusing their strategic thinking. Make sure every key stakeholder is involved and engaged in the process. Go through an overview of the SD tools and a thorough review of relevant Voice of the Business and Voice of the Customer data. Use this time to think big. Once you have built a long-term perspective you can start generating the SD Toolkit. The table below describes a high level of each of the SD tools and how they align with the Deming Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.


FigureOne significant tool in the process is the annual X-Matrix shown above. When defining your initiatives at the 12’olock position be sure to use unambiguous language. I recommend starting with the phrase “Develop and implement a system to…”. This will guide the project owner to establish solutions to address systemic root causes. In this example, there are only five strategic initiatives for the given year. That’s hard for many to swallow. Rule of thumb: If there are more than seven strategic initiatives on your X-Matrix it no longer becomes a strategy deployment process but rather just a deployment process.

Clear Primary “black dot” and Secondary “white dot” owners are established for each SD initiative. When assigning resources ask yourself: Do we have the right people in the right seat? Your SD initiative owners should be available, accountable, appropriate, and capable. Allow engineers and other technical leaders to be a part of the process to get exposure and develop leadership skills.

Follow these keys for success when creating your X-Matrix:

  1. Keep it to the critical few strategic initiatives

2. Stretch yourself to limits you think are unattainable

3. Routinely re-evaluate your top priorities / strategic initiatives

4. Don’t overload the “black dot” owners and support resources

5. Get everyone involved!

Refining the Process

The figure below gives some guidance on how to hone in these SD tools.

Strategic PlanCatch-ball” is simply a term to describe the back-and-forth challenge process that involves everyone from the top to the bottom. Ensure there are no conflicting initiatives and that you gain total commitment and buy-in from key stakeholders by demonstrating the value of the process. Get the shop floor employees bought into the process by tying linked TTIs to their daily work and performance reviews.

Use the bowler to decide whether and when to act based on clear thresholds. And remember, it’s OK to be red. If you’re consistently green, you’re not stretching yourself enough. Don’t blame, countermeasure. Determine the root cause of why you are off course and take the most appropriate actions to get back on course.

Establish a cadence of TTI reviews including linkage to daily visual management. For Town Hall type updates, I recommend one slide per initiative highlighting status and results. This will align all employees with the company’s priorities are and will create a sense of strategic involvement.

Breakdown silos using the SD process. Consider the X-Matrix as your headlights at night or your “true north”. Always refer to it when you are veering off course or feel like your team is lost. With the right implementation, these SD tools and methodologies improve your company’s performance and will help you achieve your vision.