The strategic process continued as illustrated in figure 6 with the critical factors for success, strategic choices and implementation. Shipyard is now in the last phase, and throughout the launch the company has continued the loops of the Competenceweb(r) process. These were performed through discussions of customer interviews and by going through the seven steps, first with middle managers, foremen and the work council in a two-day workshop, and later with all the employees of the shipyard in a one-day workshop.
Virtually the same material was utilised in all loops, only with a slightly different weighting. The management group, naturally enough, was strongly focused on the customer utility value and the strategy itself throughout the process and on the CompetenceWeb(r) process, whereas middle management, foremen and the work council focused on the customer utility value of innovative ideas and evaluation of own competences and activities. An interesting effect emerged regarding evaluation of the customer utility value.
Middle management, foremen and the work council were generally able to identify a higher customer utility value of the activities seeing many new facets that would benefit customers. Certain activities were even described as having a substantially higher customer utility value. This shows the importance of including the employees in the strategic and organisational development. Certain loops were completed in conjunction with the Board, who on several occasions was presented with the material prepared by the management group and the rest of the organisation.
The Board was obviously focused on adding constructive comments regarding the strategic direction of exploiting customer utility value and the participation of the employees in the process. At the workshop, with the full group of approximately 100 employees present, the concepts of customer utility value and evaluation were explained, and all staff agreed on the overall picture. This resulted in a thorough debate of these issues seen from the employees’ perspective.
This gave all participants an improved insight into the issues involved, and the insight also gave a deeper, holistic meaning and understanding of business for the participants. Primarily, strategic initiatives were discussed, and the 100 employees broke up into ten groups each discussing one of ten strategic choices. Subsequently participants from across the organisation drafted a traditional plan of action based on the project contributions within each strategic area. The projects have started, and the follow up is scheduled for this year. At the end of 2007, they will be re-evaluated and potential new plans of action formulated for 2008.
This is an example of how an organisation’s energy is released and innovation rekindled. In the following statement, Roar Falkenberg, Director of Shipyard, gives his view of what the shipyard accomplished by involving the employees in its strategic planning process: Thus innovation has been launched on two fronts – in the advancement of new products and services and in the development of process optimisation. It is important to retain a holistic approach and continuously intensify it through the Competenceweb(r) process. The whole organisation is now an integral part of the company’s innovation.
The Knowledge Society Boldness is Needed 8. Conclusion: organisations can provide new thinking – if permitted to do so! It is therefore the contention of this author that J. G. March is right in his claims about organisations’ innovative reserves. Organisations can contribute new thinking if provided with the right framework and opportunities. By establishing too many organisational, professional and hierarchical barriers – not to mention the barriers between the company and its customers – large amounts of motivation and energy are lost. Remove the barriers and use the new relationships for growth!
The time has come to use a holistic perspective when assessing customer utility value and accept that individuals and organisation are able to handle complex issues. We no longer live in the industrial society where regulation could solve all problems. We now live in the extraordinarily complex knowledge society, which, according to George Huber5, a third well-known theoretical economist, will only grow more complex with time.
There are some companies, however, who dare not make the leap. They believe they will lose control or that the initiatives will jeopardise the organisation. At one point the question will most likely be whether they can afford not to break down barriers and rekindle their companies’ motivation, energy and innovation. A talented employee is an asset to the company’s innovation. However, a talented organisation will multiply the power of innovation and hence the potential for success.