From Vision to Strategy (and Execution) or: List of unnecessary things

The Prophet is not valid in his own country – and yet it is the task of every manager to prepare himself for the future challenges, to make his own department fit for them. The future researchers use various methods for their predictions, extrapolation, trend lines and probability models. Together, all models have a strong user influence, in other words a strong subjective component.

And if a subjective component is included in futurology, if every opinion can always provide a reason for criticism, it is an elementary building block for a manager to have a vision. Vision and strategy give employees goals and a sense to deal with topics outside of their daily business.

„We want to combine the best of man and machine in our purchasing processes for a fast, cost-effective and sustainable supply of our company. Just one example, with a strong focus on internal processes. Other visions focus on the integration of supply chains, environmental protection, process reliability or employee development. Not to forget the main task of every purchasing department – reducing and managing costs.

The orientation of the vision depends on the respective corporate vision, the degree of maturity of the purchasing department and the industry. In order to define a vision, however, you should take the necessary time. A published vision is something for the next 2 to 4 years and should be secured accordingly.

With the creation and publication of a vision and a strategy, however, only the work begins. Vision and background must be communicated, the employees must stand behind the goals and expectations and identify with them. Goals must be formulated and cascaded down to the level of individual employees. The vision and the strategy must become a component of the daily work.

And the daily work and above all the exceptions and special tasks must still leave room for the implementation of the vision, for the cascading goals of the employees. Very often this presents itself as a challenge. If the user declares, partly rightly, the completion of his request as the top priority, there is no time to implement the strategy.

This is where the issue of active leadership begins to take centre stage. Focus, choose the right initiatives and implement them. And provide the necessary freedom. In principle, there are two ways to do this: through initiatives, examine one’s own processes for waste and avoid waste and/or stop irrelevant tasks. For both, a „list of unnecessary things“ can help. Ask yourself or your employees the question: „What is preventing you from implementing the strategy? Write the question down on a blank sheet of paper (analogue or digital) and take a look at it every day 5 minutes before closing time. What prevented you from implementing the strategy in the course of the day?

After some time you will recognize patterns, themes that repeatedly cost your time. Categorize them into value-added classes. Tasks with high added value for your work order, tasks that need to be done (but perhaps easier) and tasks that are not actually in your area of responsibility. Then turn this list upside down and start looking for solutions to how and by what the workload can be reduced.

In many cases, the implementation of a vision fails because of two factors: the employees don’t see any sense in it or they just don’t get there. Both are management tasks and must be an essential part of planning when implementing a vision. Unfortunately, this is too often forgotten.

One should not want to foresee the future but make it possible. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)


Oliver Kreienbrink

Managing Director, ADCONIA GmbH (Oberhausen)