Successful Corporate Strategy – Is It the Holy Grail?
Whilst we can adopt specific ways to maintain a safe and supportive learning environment, we also need to ensure that know how to develop a successful corporate safety strategy, let’s start with defining and understanding what is Corporate Strategy.
I’ll be upfront here and say that like many people (I suspect), I reached out to Google for some guidance. However, I did struggle to find succinct material that was easy to digest. See for yourself….just enter “Best Corporate Strategy” as a search string into Google and check out the results.
I found 2 definitions that were helpful as follows:
- The Harvard Business School (HBS) defines Corporate Strategy as being “concerned with how companies create value across different businesses” by “managing resources, risk and return across a firm”.
- The FT lexicon offers the following: “A company’s aims in general, and the way it hopes to achieve them”…
During the review process, I also discovered that Corporate Strategy was specific with a greater focus on strategies for growth, diversification, financial, restructuring etc. As a result, I concluded that (for me at least) there was a lack of clarity regarding what exactly Corporate Strategy involved. Perhaps we have deviated from core principles, created smoke and mirrors around some fancy words to make it a mumbo-jumbo science. Whatever the reason, there was certainly no shortage of experts around what appeared to be a giant subject matter.
With my Health, Safety and Environment background (HSE), what did take surprise me was the lack of mention or any reference to Safety in Corporate Strategy. I was expecting to find lots of references to “Corporate Safety Strategy” with the big companies. Again, search in Google with the string “Corporate Safety Strategy” and the top result relates to an industrial painting company. Really!!
We are all familiar with companies having HSE Policies and Procedures and these generally form part of a Management System framework. However, I struggled to find any definitive documents, glossy or otherwise, outlining a company’s Corporate Safety Strategy, even the industrial painting company.
To be honest, looking back over my 30 years in the industry, I haven’t specifically encountered a document titled “Corporate Safety Strategy”. There are fragments that support a safety strategy but not a coherent “all in one place” go to a document. It was a case of the sum of the parts make up the whole.
It was the Roman philosopher Seneca who was quoted as saying:
“If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favourable.” I prefer changing this to ” “If a company does not know what direction they are steering, the outcome will not be favourable.”
A “Corporate Safety Strategy” is the Organisation’s roadmap for achieving objectives or goals for Safety and supporting the delivery of this strategy will be Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
Let’s now focus on how to develop a successful corporate safety strategy?
Here, I’ll make reference to the elements Plan, Do, Analyse and Refocus (PDAR) as follows:
To build a successful plan it’s important to know the Gaps. Gap Analysis can be carried out in many ways and companies may elect bespoke checklists, audits or SWOT type analysis. At the end of the day, the objective is to develop a roadmap that is SMART relative to objectives and targets.
With that well thought out Plan it’s time to implement. To execute the tasks set out the plan, it’s important to ensure that resources are available and allocated. The “do” part must be sustainable and should not be short bursts of efforts to fit in with other commitments. All too often, setting out intentions are positive but it’s the unforeseen demands that impact on resources resulting in progress slowing down and even stopped.
Sense checking is critical to ensure that we are on the right path. The analyse aspect requires a review of the objectives and targets relative to Key Performance Indicators (KPI). It is therefore important to establish KPI early so as to monitor and collect data that is meaningful. The greater the density of data points, the stronger the signal or message with regard to performance measurement. However, the quality of data should not be replaced with quantity.
Data analysis on KPI will allow fine tuning on plans, objectives and targets. It’s common that plans have to be revised due to internal or external changes, which can significantly impact performance. Early detection will allow change management and refocus.
A Corporate Safety Strategy is an important statement. The strategy will not only detail the vision but also the mission, mechanism and pathway for achieving objectives and targets. Establishing KPI, monitoring and analysis underpins strategic improvement and progress. Reviewing KPI, will allow and the organisation to re-energize their strategic objectives in safety or other specific goals.