Developing a Strategy for World Class Business in Ghana: The OXYGEN Approach
This recital provides an introductory framework for managers whose companies wish to pursue the route to world class status. The responsibility for a world class strategy usually rests with the chief executive and senior management team. Becoming a world class company is not a simple process for any business, and Ghana businesses are no exception. This process requires effort and commitment from the entire organisation, and it’s essential for any Ghana business to develop a strategy for action if world class status is to be achieved.
The term “world class” is a concept that is fairly difficult to define. However, an accepted working definition is that a world class company should be able to compete with any other organisation in its chosen markets and that it aspires to world-beating standards in everything it does, in every department or division. ‘World class’ also embraces the practice of and excellence in techniques such as total quality management, continuous improvement, customer service, international benchmarking, flexible working and training. ‘World class’ organisations also accept the necessity for continuous change.
Making Things Happen
- Consider the environment
Identify the factors in the external environment which call for a strategic response from your business. These can be grouped under main headings such as: economic factors; demographic trends; environmental factors; technology; suppliers and competition.
- Create a world class OXYGEN vision
Determine the core business of your organisation – that at which your organisation should excel. Top management must make a vision of excellence clear in a brief statement which is impossible to misinterpret. In addition to helping form this vision, the chief executive’s role is to clarify the message, push forward change, and champion the ideas and capabilities which will beat your competitors.
- Analyse your current situation
Benchmark your organisation against your competitors as far as you can. This may be other businesses in Ghana, but it may also include international companies. This can be very difficult, as much of the necessary information may not be available. However, organisations do exist to help in this process (see Useful addresses).
Consider the following areas:
- your product
- its price
- its availability
- your customer service
- your policy for continuous improvement
- your costs
- your market share.
Additionally, assess where you stand in customers’ eyes. What is their perception of your status compared to your competitors?
- Draw up a list of your core strengths
From the analyses of the external environment, the core business of the organisation, and the standing of competitors, draw up a list of the core capabilities of your organisation which will enable you to compete in world markets. Core capabilities will include:
- product knowledge / service skills
- marketing skills
- innovation / research capacity
- financial planning and control
- human resource capabilities (including motivation as well as skills).
Determine which of these core capabilities need extra focus, and resource their development.
- Develop a corporate strategy
Focus on achieving better products or services, better factories or service operations, better organisation, better management, and better information and communication.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- Have the key business processes been defined and understood?
- Has a quality, or customer focus ethic been established throughout the organisation?
- Are quality and reliability of products and services measured?
- Are the key performance measures improving / reviewed?
- Is everyone in the organisation informed of results and developments?
- Is customer satisfaction monitored on a regular basis?
- Are employees multi-skilled? Are they flexible and willing to adapt?
- Do your employees have continuing personal development plans in place?
- How are creativity and innovation encouraged and nurtured?
- How well does communication flow?
- Set stretching targets for the organisation
Set imaginative and ambitious targets by identifying where you intend to be in one, three and five years’ time. If targets are easily achievable there is a danger that you will rest on your laurels. Being satisfied with these improvements means never becoming world class. Ensure that organisational targets are translated into divisional and departmental goals which are incorporated into individual objectives. Get staff into the habit of setting their own targets (they will usually be higher than those you would set them).
- Develop simple performance measures
Measurement processes – as simple and straightforward as possible – allow you to continuously monitor what is happening, and continuously report on progress. Performance measures must be relevant to your aims – concentrate on customer service, time reduction and quality – and remember that within a world class company, financial measures are not the most important performance measure in terms of achieving your objectives.
- Adopt straightforward reporting procedures
Complex reports are time-consuming to understand, require a lot of preparation and consequently tend to be produced monthly at best. World class companies must be able to act immediately on the results of performance measurement; if a report takes three weeks to generate, then this three week lead-time will impact on continuous improvement. Adopt the one-page management reporting rule.
- Communicate your progress and celebrate your team
Nothing inspires and motivates like success itself. Your employees must be kept fully informed of the organisation’s progress (get your staff to produce their own progress charts if possible). By adopting simple measurement techniques, results can be given to employees on a daily basis via bulletin or notice boards – preferably in a graphic or pictorial form. Progress reports can be an inspirational form of communication: poor communication is a reason why many things go wrong.
- Revisit and Revise your performance targets
As your organisation raises its performance in the areas you have defined, identify new areas to be improved. As areas improve, their reports should reduce to exception reporting (a report showing only those items which deviate from plan or the established norm), allowing the organisation to focus on new needs.