Strategy on a sticky

Strategy on a sticky: the frustration of the average manager of a support department

Imagine you are a manager of a support department. A manager leading 10-30 people. It is a collection of functions, such as project portfolio, marketing, communication, planning, projects, legal, compliance and HR tasks. Your biggest frustration? Definitely the fact that you have no control over the priorities of your department. The fact that the governance of your company seems to be one that is based on ‘shouting around’. And that is alarming. How to balance the daily hectic and still influence the (strategic) agenda?

Dilemma

The support department has no turnover targets. Your fellow MT members see you as the “drain”. Although they give you a lot of credits for that. The priorities are mainly short-term and turnover driven. Especially in a culture of pay per hours. Billable hours always come first, and rightly so! In the hierarchy, other MT members are more important with more turnover and profit contribution and more people. So they have more to say. The strategic agenda of your support department is actually determined by the issues of the day. As manager of a support department you suffer from that. Firstly because you want to add value to the company in the long term. Secondly your employees are unsatisfied because they are suspecting lack of vision. Today the course of the organization is left and tomorrow right; how can your emplyees even understand what to focus on?

Obeyaroom and strategy on a sticky note

To create focus, setting up an ‘Obeyaroom’ and setting up portfolio processes would be the best next thing. An Obeyaroom is a room which displays your strategy, your improvement- and project agenda, and your performance on the various walls. The strength is that you see your strategy on sticky notes: the whole strategy at a colourful glance. You create an overview.

What is different about this?

First, it is the physical aspect of the relevant information in one room, which creates a total overview. Second, the conversation with your relevant stakeholders to build a shared purpose will arise engagement and insights on the themes that are important to the department. Thirdly, you organize these types of sessions periodically according to a fixed process. So participants develop a rhythm and habit of entering into a dialogue about progress, daily problems and strategy. Visualising the strategy, priorities and progress with sticky notes helps employees to understand their contribution to the whole.

Benefits for those involved

The conversation creates more involvement and understanding between the stakeholders. On the one hand, you organize the process top down, with your fellow Management Team members. And on the other hand, you give everyone the opportunity to contribute to this process, which creates more understanding in your department and also improves implementation. The short feedback loop between a sticky note and the strategy gives you more control over the priorities. As a manager of a support department you will be able to jointly improve your priorities, make committed decisions around an engaged vision of the future. As a result colleagues will understand each other better, be more self-organized and collaborate a lot better.

Recognize any of these frustrations? I am really curious whether you think something like an Obeyaroom could improve the performance of your department and organisation. Please share your thoughts!

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