Profiles of Deployment Success

July 18, 2011

How well are your values, policies and strategic drivers deployed within your organization?

To consider this let use quality management as an example. So you have buy in from your management team about implementing or continuing quality management. You have connected quality focused strategic goals to tools for achievement and assigned leaders, timelines and metrics. Everything is rolling out! But just how well is this deployed and just what level of understanding and buy in is there really?

There are 5 profiles of deployment success.

1. Lack of senior management commitment
2. Lack of operational influence 
3. Ineffective tactical translation of strategy
4. Middle management isolation
5. Need to sustain deployment consistency

The profiles shown in the diagram,  provide a simple but clear image of the common problems in deployment.

In the first profile leadership don’t really have the commitment , it is about telling a team to do something and then walking away, yet expecting everyone to be totally bought in and passionate. Indeed management and even staff may indeed see the value in this and drive it, but it is with limited resources/support or appreciation. This can only last for a certain amount of time and as interest bleeds off, let’s face it if leadership don’t care enough to be committed to it they won’t really notice as it fades away.

The second profile is essentially the opposite situation. Leadership put their plan together and stuff happens, results occur. They assume that this means that this is the result of management flowing down throughout the organization the same approaches they have driven. A clear understanding of why this is being done, getting buy in and therefore sustaining the approach they want to drive companywide. However, often this flow down approach gets weaker as it is passed down layer to layer. This is usually because management just been giving lip service and they do not drive the plan with passion or indeed don’t want it to happen. So by the time those in the office or in the field have exposure to it, it is a weak, undirected ‘other thing they want us to do’.  So it is done! But there is no sustainability or direction. It will seen as a fad with some but limited impact and so seen as a waste of time.

The third profile is where there is a strategic – operational divide. This is where leadership are committed, staff like the approach and support it fully but middle management are hampering its success. This is very common. It is in this case that a bureaucratic approach can snuff out a promising new approach. At the operational level, boots on ground, will not be able to sustain it because they didn’t get the support and leadership will be told, it just didn’t work out.

The fourth profile is where middle management are in isolation. Management are bought in and trying to rollout something that can make an impact and they are all in agreement. However, leadership through a lack of interest or resources are not helping to drive it and there is limited connection to the strategic planning process. At the operational level there is limited buy in and with no inspiration or drive by leadership there will be no chance of buy in. So managers struggle to keep it going.

Finally, the fifth profile is the ideal situation. All three levels are involved and deployment is solid and communication is clear, there is strategic alignment, everyone understands why and how this approach is to happen and result are clear and available. The trick in this situation is sustaining this deployment.

Whether it is your mission statement, focus on the customer, implementation of quality management, use of a new tool, policy, determination for a new product or service to be launched or that two departments work better together, how well is this being deployed. You will only know by talking to you teams at all levels, being open to the truth and then considering which profile relates to your situation. Once you know where the problem is you can start to address it. Assuming it doesn’t exist or that a project will succeed without these sorts of problems occurring won’t help.

How well are your values, policies etc deployed? Which profile reflects your organization?

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.