Business Thinking Implementation Model:
Positiooning, Intra-Setting, Inter-Setting and Procesing

by Hidetoshi Shibata  Copy rights all reserved © H. Shibata, 1998          Send me E-mail !

How can we efficiently implement business strategies and business plans?

Since we fail to implement strategies and plans many times, even though the analyses are reasonable, this question is the universal concern among thoughtful business managers and leaders. Organizational-Behavior researchers have accumulated much useful knowledge about efficient business implementation. This report screens the accumulated knowledge and proposes the practical model, the Business Thinking Implementation Model, for efficient business implementation.

The key points of the practical model are as follows.

Organizational Positioning: The recognition of controllable and uncontrollable boundaries in organizational situations is the starting point of efficient business implementation. This report calls this process Organizational Positioning.

Intra-Organizational Setting: The setting within the controllable boundaries is the second step of efficient business implementation. This step includes leadership creation, mental model surfacing, vision sharing, motivation development, procedure designing, and skill development.

Inter-Organizational Setting: Acquiring resources such as budgets, cooperative interactions, and organizational powers is the third step of efficient business implementation. This step is the most difficult part of implementation.

Processing: Processing is the last process of implementation and includes Doing, Milestoning, and Warning. We recognize and praise our attainments at millstones, and we notice errors, mal-functions and situational changes through Warning.

Organizational Positioning

Starting from organizational positioning is one of the unique points in this report.

Recognizing the controllable and uncontrollable boundaries is the target of this process. The controllable boundary can include outsiders of assigned groups. Official organizational charts do not necessarily show controllable boundaries. The boundaries are decided not only by official organizational structures but also by personal relations. Further, more practically, the boundaries are vague. Between controllable and uncontrollable groups, there are vague borders. Since the criteria for controllable and uncontrollable are subjective, the vague borders are inevitable.

For controllable groups, the human resource aspect of Organizational Behavior research is applicable. In contrast, for uncontrollable outsiders, the power and politics aspect of Organizational Behavior research is applicable. The human resource aspect includes leadership theories and motivation theories. For controllable groups, this report sets the Intra-Organizational Setting section. This report includes procedure designing in the Intra-Organizational Setting as well as leadership theories and motivation theories. Mixing the procedure designing with human resource management realizes practical business implementation.

When we plan to influence outsiders, leadership theories and motivation theories are less applicable and the power and politics aspect is more practical. This report sets the Inter-Organizational Setting section in order to handle uncontrollable outsiders.

Since the approaches for controllable insiders and uncontrollable outsiders are different, setting the boundaries between controllable and uncontrollable groups is the practical first step for business implementation.

Intra-Organizational Setting

Intra-Organizational Setting has been historically well researched by academic Organizational Behavior researchers. This report agrees with their research works and adds procedure designing, which is the target of Operational Research and Information System Designing. This report mixes the operational aspect with the Organizational Behavior aspect and proposes the four sub-steps for efficient business implementation, utilizing researchers' works. These five sub-steps are;

  • Leadership Creation,
  • Mental Model Surfacing,
  • Vision / Goal Sharing,
  • Motivation / Incentive / Reward Clarifying,
  • Procedure Designing, and
  • Skill Development.

the Intra-Organizational Setting is much easier than the Inter-Organizational Setting, since the Intra-Organizational Setting is controllable, while Inter-Organizational Setting is uncontrollable. Even though the Inter-Organizational Setting is difficult to control, managers and leaders can utilize the power of the Intra-Organization Setting.

Leadership Creation

Leadership creation is the starting point of the Intra-Organizational Setting. Without appropriate leadership, organizations can not perform well. Yet Leadership Creation is a sensitive issue. Since leadership controls everything in an organization, leadership systems are not democratic. Once one of members takes leadership, other members are required to be controlled by a leader.

How leaders should behave has been researched. For example, Kouzes and Posner proposed the five tasks of leaders such as;

  • Challenge the process
  • Inspire a shared vision
  • Enable others to act
  • Model the way
  • Encourage the heart.

We can generally agree with these tasks. But who should have leadership is arguable. Some of leadership theorists said that everyone could be a leader by skill development. Since, usually, multiple members think that they should be a leader, Leadership Creation dissatisfies some of other members who can not be a leader.

Even though Leadership Creation is difficult, we must start from Leadership Creation. Leadership is empirically a critical factor to progress the following sub-steps such as Mental Model Surfacing, Vision / Goal Sharing, Motivation / Incentive / Reward Clarification, and Procedure Designing.

Mental Model Surfacing

As Peter Senge proposed, we are strongly influenced by unconscious mental models, which are developed through our experiences. In stable business situations, the mental models are not a significant factor, but when we need "changes", we must recognize our existing mental models and intentionally change the mental models. Gary Hamel used the similar concept when he defined strategies and plans. He defined that strategies should be subversive and plans are not strategies. Hamel suggested that when we need subversive changes, we should develop strategies and when we do not need subversive changes, we should develop plans. We can assume that subversive changes need mental model changes and, therefore, strategies should include mental model changes.

Vision / Goal Sharing

Vision sharing is the key factor of utilizing the power of cooperation. Without sharing visions, we can not create synergy in organizations and we face unnecessary conflicts, which decreases the efficiency of implementation.

Peter Senge mentioned Vision Sharing in his influential bestseller. Senge wrote, "Shared vision is the first step in allowing people who mistrusted each other to begin to work together."

I. Nonaka's Knowledge Creation Theory mentioned more specific processes of sharing organizational values. Nonaka explained five-steps for organizational value sharing. 1) Sharing tacit knowledge. 2) Creating concepts. 3) Justifying concepts (in organizations). 4) Building an archetype . 5) Cross-leveling knowledge. The Nonaka's theory explained not only visions but also wider organizational values. But Nonaka's theory gives us a thoughtful perspective about vision sharing. Nonaka's theory proposed that values are shared from a tacit level and are gradually shared in more concrete levels such as concepts and archetypes.

Goals are one of the specific aspects of visions. Goals are usually measurable, while visions are not. Setting measurable goals help us to evaluate our performance of implementation. Sharing goals is also useful for efficient business implementation.

Change Recognition

Without recognizing the changes from existing mental models to new visions, it is difficult to find existing mental models. New vision development and existing mental model recognition occur reciprocally. Practically, we reciprocally conceive hypothetical visions and existing mental models. After several back-and-forths we can recognize both new visions and existing mental models.

Motivation / Incentive / Reward clarifying

Motivations, incentives and rewards are one of the major research fields of Organizational Behavior. As exiting theories mentioned, motivational factors do not clearly guarantee high productivity but relates to members' satisfaction levels. The higher satisfaction level initiates the positive feedback process, which gradually improves efficiency of implementation. This vague but plausible relation is called Causal Ambiguity by Russell Coff.

Procedure Designing

Since the potential efficiency of processing tasks is highly dependent on procedures of activities, we should consider appropriate procedures before we actually perform.

Procedure Designing is not the main research fields of Organizational Behavior. Procedure Designing has been researched in the field of Operational Research or Information System Designing. We can utilize the accumulated research results in those fields

We can assume two types of procedures such as a batch processing procedure and a one-by-one processing procedure. If we accumulate some amount of works and process the accumulated works at a time, this type of procedure is a batch processing. In contrast, if we do not accumulate works and process works as works are created, this type of procedure is a one-by-one processing. Empirically, a batch processing procedure causes lower quality but in a certain situation, such as when we process the same works continuously for relatively longer periods, a batch processing performs more efficiently than a one-by-one processing does. On the other hand, a one-by-one processing procedure performs with higher quality, and is widely applicable to any types of processing situations.

Skill Development

Within controllable organizations, skill development is a useful tactic to improve efficiency of implementation. Skill Development takes longer time than acquisition of personnels from the outside of the organization. Further, frequently Skill Development is a major motivation driver for the members. We should consider both schedules and motivations for Skill Development.

Inter Organizational Setting

Inter-Organizational Setting has been researched as power and politics and negotiation by Organizational Behavior researchers. This report agrees with their works and practically picked out the three sub-steps. The three steps are;

  • Resource Acquisition
  • Cooperative Interaction Acquisition, and
  • Organizational Power Acquisition.

Though leadership is important for the Inter Organizational Setting, other members can functionally delegate external relation management. In particular, when leaders are not proficient at inter organizational negotiation, other members often functionally substitute external relation management.

The Inter-Organizational Setting is the difficult part of implementation processes and we are usually forced to change our original strategies and plans through this process.

Resource Acquisition

Budgets and human resources are two major resources, which are transferable from external organizations.

Budget

Acquiring a sufficient budget is one of the requirements for efficient business implementation. Budget Acquisition has two major problems. The one is unnecessary inter-organizational fights in the zero-sum situation and the other is inflexibility of budgets, which are usually unchangeable semiannually and cause the delay of implementation.

Inter-organizational fights to acquire larger budgets is the nature of budget planning. "Cooperation" and "organizational power" are two solutions for budget planning. If we can attain inter-organizational cooperation, we can eliminate the unnecessary fights. Further, even though we can not attain inter-organizational cooperation, we can acquire a sufficient budget with organizational power.

Inflexibility of budgets is also the nature of budget planning. Since budget planning is usually semi-annual, budgets are frequently apt to be different from the current situational needs, especially in the later part of the budget period.

Human Resource

We can develop human resources within our organizations. But since skill development takes time, we need to transfer human resources when we need the human resources urgently.

Cooperative Interaction Acquisition

Cooperative interactions with other organizations are not required but are very helpful to improving the efficiency of implementation.

Design-in, which is the traditional supplier-and-assemblers relationship in the Japanese manufacturing industry, is a typical example of Cooperative Interaction Acquisition. Japanese assemblers such as carmakers and electronic product makers deliver the unfixed specifications of new products to their suppliers before the specifications are fixed. The specifications are not perfectly reliable, but suppliers start designing the parts of the new product based on the unreliable specifications. Sometimes, the specifications may be changed significantly, but usually the changes are minor. Taking the risk of specification changes, suppliers can accelerate the development of new parts in order to save time to realize lower cost and higher quality production. Assemblers also can take the advantage of shorter new product development, while assemble makers take the risk of information leaks to competitors through suppliers. Design-in can be realized only on the mutual trust of the makers and suppliers.

Further, cooperation can eliminate unnecessary budget acquiring fights, which we saw in the previous section.

Organizational Power Acquisition

Acquiring necessary power in organizations is important to implement strategies and plans. This topic has been researched by Organizational Behavior researchers as Organizational Power and Politics. We can utilize their concepts for efficient business implementation.

Jeffrey Pfeffer listed 1) personal attributes, 2) organizational positions and 3) the fits of situations and personal attributes as general sources of organizational power. As a traditional example, The French and Raven's five power sources model is popular. French and Raven picked out Reward, Coercive, Referent, and Legitimate and Expert as the sources of power.

From more tactical viewpoints, Pfeffer mentioned that 1) Framing, 2) Emotional Inclinations, 3) Timing, 4) Information and Analysis, 5) Organizational Structure, and 6) Symbolic Actions affects the effectiveness of power exertions.

Processing

Processing has been researched mainly by Operation Research researchers. When we process, the efficiency of processes are decided through the previous settings. Further, we must revitalize ourselves at milestones and warn the situational changes in order to rethink.

Doing

Doing is exactly our activities and Doing creates our performance. The productivity of Doing is affected especially by Intra-Organizational Setting and Inter-Organizational Setting. Of course, when organizations share visions, are motivated, and have efficient procedures, the implementation of the organization becomes productive. When organizations have sufficient budgets, cooperative inter-organizational relations, and strong power in organizations, the implementation of the organizations becomes efficient.

Milestoning

Doing is usually divided into shorter periods and the end of each period is called a milestone. At milestones we recognize the results of our performance, evaluate them, and adjust our original plans. We do not have to wait milestones in order to adjust our original plans. But at milestones, we should, at least, recognize and praise our attainments. Recognition and praise revitalize our implementation energies.

Warning

Implementation is always under uncertainty. Tom Davis clearly explained the uncertainty with his Uncertainty Cycle Model. His model explained that every activity has the probability of fluctuations and errors. Therefore plans can not be accomplished as previously expected. His model includes the fluctuations of customer demand, the errors in marketing researches, the fluctuations of defects, the fluctuations of productivity, and so on.

Since the reality always has uncertainty, we must adjust our original strategies and plans frequently. Therefore, finding when to adjust is an important process in implementation. This report calls this process Warning. Criteria for Warning should be included in procedures, which we examined in the Intra-Organizational Setting section.

Conclusion

This report stressed the following four points. First, recognizing the controllable and uncontrollable boundaries of organizations is the practical starting point of the effective business implementation for strategies and business plans, because intra- and inter- organizational settings have different requirements to be met. Second, not only a leadership aspect and a motivation aspect but also a procedure designing aspect is useful for Intra-Organizational Setting, because both the mentalities in organizations and the procedures of activities strongly affect the efficiency of implementation. Third, we must remember that Inter-Organizational Setting is the most uncontrollable part of implementation processes and the political aspect in organizations is essential to manage the Inter-Organizational Setting. Fourth, Milestoning and Warning is the important processes in order to progress steadily through long implementation processes under uncertain realities. Considering these four points we can significantly improve the efficiency of implementation.

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