In their book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne address the difficulties of implementing strategy of any kind – blue, red, or any other color for that matter. They maintain that “fair practice” is the key variable that distinguishes successful strategic moves from those that have failed. Fair practice is a managerial adaptation of procedural justice theory which states that people care as much about the justice of the process that produces an outcome as they do about the outcome itself. So, if there is a level of fairness in the strategic process, not only will people do what they are told in order to execute the strategy, they will go above and beyond the call of duty to do so, increasing its chances of success tremendously.
To create fair process, the authors suggest following “The Three E’s.” They are Engagement, Explanation, and Expectations. Engage employees in the strategic development process. Explain the reasons particular strategies have been chosen, and clearly state Expectations.
“Fair process builds execution into strategy by creating people’s buy-in up front.”
Joe Kerr: Allow me to quote William Goldman… “Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”
Wanda B. Goode: I certainly agree that if people are involved in a process, they have more ownership of it. Of course if the new strategy is going to mean they lose their job, it’s a bit tougher sell.
Being honest and communicating openly is always the best way to go. Obviously if people believe that their thoughts and opinions matter, and that information is being shared freely, they will be more willing to help implement a strategy. It doesn’t mean there won’t be some bumps along the way, but it most cases the mountains can be avoided.
We’ve talked about strategy quite a bit lately. The most wonderful strategies are indeed useless unless executed. Ensuring “Fair Process” seems like it would help with execution. The previous post from Blue Ocean Strategy about utilizing tipping point leadership is very applicable as well. Click here to go to that post.
We’ll point you again to the following post from Joe Grant for more on Blue Ocean Strategy