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Turning the Abc vision and strategy into action

Fast-growing companies need to formulate a clear corporate strategy to avoid sudden problems when the environment changes. Abc made an excellent strategic move by beginning to draw up their strategy on 24 February, the same day that John Johnson and Chris Chistoffersson made the decision to share a common future.

When it became clear that B and C were going to merge, a number of initiatives were set in motion. One of them was to formulate and implement a corporate vision and strategy for the new company - the Abc Strategy Process. A very delicate process, not least when taking all the different company cultures into consideration.

Organizations are dependent on how society functions, how individuals act and on corporate strategy planning. At Abc, everybody is determined to get ahead of the race, both in terms of thought and action. Being ahead entails many things: you must be intellectually ahead so you can beat the others at understanding how the market is developing. But this is not enough. You must also be able to convert insight to intention and intention to action.

The road towards a company vision is seldom straight
A strategy is a framework that supports action now and in the future. It is essential to have a good grasp of the present situation in order to be able to make a reasonable assessment of what kind of resources are needed. This means that it is important at an early stage to describe the present situation and the objectives for each of the different parts of the strategy. But the road towards a company vision is seldom straight, more often it is winding and full of pitfalls.
How then, has the corporate strategy been drawn up and how will the company be able to focus its energies on becoming a world leader in the development of new digital business-to-business solutions? Insight asks Per Lund, responsible for Abc’s strategic development (S.V.P. Strategic Development) and Martin Westesson, a strategy consultant from Abc Strategy Global, for an explanation.

– When the analysis was presented to the management and the overall vision and mission had gained support, the next step was to try and make these and the strategy clear and understandable to everybody, says Per.

A challenge to turn the strategy into action
This was done using the philosophy behind the Balanced Scorecard, a framework that describes the strategy in terms of strategic objectives, measures and concrete initiatives. By doing this it is possible to align and focus on the organizations most critical success factors.

– After we had established vision, mission and strategy we translated them into a strategy map which makes the hypotheses explicit and concrete. Based on this we identified six main strategic themes within which 18 different initiatives were started.
This was done in order to find and create a common nomenclature and basic values for all companies. The challenge was to turn our strategy into action as quickly as possible so that we could present ourselves on the market as one unified company. If we had failed to do this there would have been a risk that vision, mission and strategy would not be worth the paper it was printed on, says Martin.

The strategy must be continually modified and converted
The strategy is based on hypotheses about the future and each day that passes teaches us more about the decisions we have previously made. The strategy must therefore be continually modified and converted to clear-cut initiatives, discusssed and communicated in order to be successfully implemented. The main objective of the Abc Strategy Process is to develop and implement a continuos process that will provide the organization with a management system that secures:

- a focus on a few but critical strategic objectives and initiatives

- that vision and strategy turn into action

- linkage and alignment between units and countries

- strategic learning and a pro-active organization

- that measures are monitored in order to follow up the implementation of the strategy

- a continuos modification of the Abc strategy

- speed in the integration process

Up until now the strategy work has been at corporate level. The next step is to cascade the corporate strategy to each country and unit.

– Each unit will now investigate whether Abc's corporate strategy is relevant to their situation. It may turn out that a country or unit can contribute with something that we have missed at the corporate level, says Per.

Each country will identify measures and initiatives
Martin continues by explaining that each country also will identify measures and initiatives in order to be able to promote better operations for their respective units and monitor and follow up the implementation of their strategy. According to Per and Martin, it is important to create an operative framework in order to be able to continuously evaluate the strategic direction, to create security in the organization, understanding, a common language and that Abc achieves its stated objectives.

– This will hopefully create a comfortable organisation, and an understanding that I as an individual know where to turn to if I have opinions and input concerning the company's future direction. It's important that we co-operate the whole time to improve Abc, and that everybody understands that strategy is something we all have to work with everyday, says Per.


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