Essay on Strategy and Leadership
Background study of the case (abstract)
The formulation of a winning modern strategy and its effective implementation can result in success for profit oriented businesses, non-profit organizations and even political parties alike. The clear proof is the success of British labour party in general elections of 1997 after long years being out of power due to “old way thinking”, non-innovative approach and conflicts of interests within the party itself. All of these were changed once the future youngest prime minister since 1812 Tony Blair became the leader of the party in 1994. With the appointment of the young party leader many things changed within the party. One of the first things Tony Blair did as the party leader was to formulate a clear strategy and to adapt a business-like approach to lead the Labour party. He appointed competent, open-minded people in key positions, recognized and addressed the interests of all stakeholders and identified Labour party’s customer segments tasking into account unique interests of each segment group. All of these strategic decisions provided success for the Labour party.
The present work aims to analyse the successful strategy which was adopted and implemented by Labour party under the leadership of Tony Blair with assistance from Tom Sawyer and other members of the team.
Background of the case (abstract) provided at the beginning of the work to familiarize the reader with the topic of the case and to provide general background information in brief which was followed by introduction to the work.
Analysis of the case is also undertaken in more detail to review key strategic decisions made by Labour party leaders, motives behind them, barriers for their implementations and outcomes after implementing those decision.
This is followed by critical view and answer to questions based on the model.. Explanation is offered of how tony Blair was able resuscitate the labour party from long period of failure by the use of the “Enterprise Model” highlighting major points and analysing all components of the model in great detail. The model was created for a business entity, therefore, the application of the model needed to be re-adjusted to accommodate our case. For instance, the main objective of any business entity remains to be profit maximisation, and accordingly “Enterprise Model” identifies internal and external factors of strategy formulation and implementation taking into account that particular objective of a business entity. When we applied the “Enterprise Model” in the case of Labour Party, some of its components, external influencers to strategy formulation and implementation like shareholders and raw material providers needed to be alerted because they do not apply to a political party in a way that they apply to a business entity.
Also, Tom Sawyer’s use of “Five Phases” of strategy implementation is discussed in detail taking into account the specifications of the Labour party and great resistance displayed by some party members towards strategic innovations. In doing so, what obstacles Labour leadership encountered and overcame in each phase are described to together with viewpoints from other authors regarding these phases.
Conclusions include all the lessons which can be learned from Labour’s experience and author’s impression from the whole process of work is shared.
Analysis of the case
Tony Blair’s appointment on party leadership 1994 proved to be an ultimate success for the Labour party at least for the initial period of several years of his leadership. He was rightly aware that without radical changes within the party it was impossible for him to be elected as a Prime Minister.
Tony Blair’s early efforts were directed towards making Labour party the most efficient, innovative, trustworthy, modern, motivated, disciplined, responsive and proactive electorate organization.
One of the most successful appointees by Tony Blair was Tom Sawyer. He was appointed as Labour party’s general secretary within the first days of Tony Blair becoming party leader. What made Sawyer especially valuable was his background which was in trade unions. Also, Sawyer was closely familiar with Labour party and his numerous links to party members, members of Parliament, unions, business elite and other parties might be very useful in future.
Main object of Tom Sawyers concentration was strategy. Sawyer and other senior party members formulated and implemented Labour party’s new strategy in a way that it benefited the party in short and long terms in it served as a basis behind the idea of “New Labour”.
Main obstacle on the way of Sawyer’s implementation of strategic decisions were lack of cooperation from some party members, even some senior respected party members who were comfortable with status quo. Reasons for the unwillingness to cooperate among some party leaders were fear of uncertainty, lack of motivation, lack of knowledge and qualifications in new environment, and, as a result possible threats to their current position. As a result some party members from that category had to be dismissed, but some did not change their stand and still remained in their positions for various reasons.
However, the persistence of the new party leadership on new strategic culture resulted in most of the members to accept and adjust to new way of doing things.
For many years ahead of Blair’s leadership former party leaders new what their aims and objectives were. However, they failed to approach strategically which resulted in their unpopularity. The strategy in any business is aimed at identifying the customers, identifying their needs and developing products and services to satisfy those needs. The same approach was adopted for party leadership when Tony Blair became head of Labour. Party leadership identified their customers, which were more diverse compared to a business entity, segmented them according their needs, goals and other common features and strived to serve each segment taking into account their unique needs.
Tony Blair started to unite party leaders and member towards party’s vision. Recognising the importance of communicating the vision party leaders established projects like Key Seats department which was targeting 100 marginal constituencies and communication vehicle called Rebuttal Unit, aimed to provide internet-based library information.
All of the above mentioned strategic measures undertaken under the leadership of Tony Blair with Tom Sawyer and other party leaders provided victory for Labour party and is considered a good case study to recognise the importance of defining and implementing effective strategies for any entity.
Critical view and response to the questions based on model
Question 1. By the use of the “Enterprise Model”, describe how Tony Blair was able resuscitate the Labour Party from a long buried landmine.
Enterprise Modelling is described by Wikipedia as “abstract representation, description and definition of the structure, processes, information and resources of an identifiable business, government body, or other large organization” (Wikipedia-online encyclopaedia, 2010). An alternative definition is offered by Smith (1998) describes enterprise model as one or more models used for documentation of process and data for an organization or enterprise and it serves as the centre of planning and integration for all information systems management.
According to Fox & Gruninger (1998, p.1) the role of an enterprise model is to achieve model-driven enterprise design, analysis, and operation.
The “Enterprise Model” to be discussed is cited by Freedman & Tregoe (2003, p.13), as taken by Alan Brache. Freedman & Tregoe (2003, pp. 13-15) analyse Brache’s “Enterprise Model” and offer their classification and interpretation of the model.
The author of this work does not use Freedman & Tregoe’s interpretation of Brache’s “Enterprise Model” to describe Tony Blair’s use of strategy, but offers his own analysis of Brache’s “Enterprise Model”.
All of the factors effecting strategy implementation by a business entity according to Brache’s “Enterprise Model” are described and how it went in case of Tony Blair’s strategy implementation are explained below:
Strategy is formulated by leadership and it affects business processes. In case of Tony Blair’s Labour it affects how the party is promoted and electorate is attracted.
Strategy and business processes both affect following aspects of business:
Goals and measurements. Strategy implemented by the company and its goals and measurements are inter-related. BecauseThe strategy defined by Tony Blair is going to define goals and measurements of Labour party.
Human capabilities. Be it any business entity or political party strategy will effect employee capabilities within the organization by motivating or de-motivating them. In case of labour party, although Blair’s strategies initially met some resistance, at the end it was able to unite and motivate party leaders and members towards a common vision.
Information/Knowledge management. Initiatives, like Rebuttal Unit were aimed to communicate information more efficiently which served its purpose.
Organization structure and roles. “New Labour” introduced policies which led to more efficient organizational structure within labour party.
Culture. A definition of culture is given by Adair (2007, p.98) as a way of living, thinking and feeling of a group of people who follow a common set of values. Strategy formulation is going to define or at least affect the culture within any organization. Tony Blair’s strategy was able to bring the culture of innovation and open-mindedness within labour party.
All of the above components are based on issue resolution which in turn defines the degree and efficiency of strategy implementation.
Also there are range of external factor effecting strategy formulation and implementation according to Brache’s “Enterprise Model”:
Government/Regulation, Policies. In a case of business entity government regulation and policies effect company in a way that the company has to operate within those regulations. Within Labour party, on the other hand, Tony Blair’s strategy included pinpointing to current inefficiencies within government rules and regulations and promising change to eliminate those inefficiencies.
Economy/Economic conditions. For a business entity economic conditions determine potential customer’s ability and willingness to buy company’s products and services. It is different for a political party in a way that party leader can develop strategy that promotes party’s plans regarding improving economy. That was what Tony Blair did.
Society and Community/Concerns. Society and communities, in Labour’s case UK’s population are concerned about the plans of the party and its ability to implements its policies which are being widely promoted. Blair’s strategy was able to reassure society and community which guaranteed landslide victory for the party in general elections.
Parent Corporation/Priorities. Labour party does not have a parent corporation; therefore, this particular factor did not affect strategy implementation and formulation for Tony Blair in any way.
Another group is identified in Brache’s “Enterprise Model” which greatly effect strategy formulation and implementation for a company. They are shareholders and customers.
Shareholders invest capital in a business and expect equity and dividends in return. Customers buy products and services of the company and expect their needs and expectations to be satisfied. Whether shareholders and customers are the same for a political party is a question which is open for debate. However, the author risks to identify the shareholders and customers of the Labour party as the same people for a reason it is illegal for party donors to expect “equity and dividends” from the party, hence they become regular customers. Tony Blair was able to formulate and implement a strategy that was customer oriented and satisfied their needs.
Resource providers and suppliers are also identified as external influencers to strategy formulation and implementation by business according to the “Enterprise Model”. Also, competitors influence the strategy in a way that strategy has to be defined taking into account the position of competitors in marketplace and offer better products and services than they do.
Question 2. Critically analyse how the “Five Phases” implementation strategy was employed by the Labour Party’s Secretary, Tom Sawyer to help turn the party around.
The Five Phases of formulating and implementing strategy is taken from Freedman & Tregoe (2003, p.22) and consists of following:
1. Strategic intelligence gathering and analysis
2. Strategy formulation
3. Strategic master project planning
4. Strategy implementation
5. Strategy monitoring, reviewing and updating
The implementation of “New Labour’s” new strategies were mainly supervised by party’s general-secretary Tom Sawyer and the following is its analysis under “Five Phases2 implementation strategy:
1. Strategic intelligence gathering and analysis.
Tom Sawyer conducted strategic intelligence gathering and analysis to modernize the Labour party. Ten keys to a successful business intelligence strategy is proposed by Daniel (2007):
1. Choosing a C-level sponsor
2. Creating common definitions
3. Accessing current situation
4. Creating a plan for data storage
5. Understanding what users need
6. Deciding whether to buy or build the analytical data model
7. Considering all business intelligence components
8. Choosing a system integrator
9. Choosing key performance indicators
10. Choosing high-value, simple components to start
2. Strategy formulation.
Thenmozhi (2001, p.2) differentiates three levels of strategy formulation, each of them with different focus:
a) Corporate Level Strategy. It involves large-scale decisions about the total organization’s scope and direction. Labour’s corporate level strategy corresponds with senior party leadership and involves strategic decisions which concern all stakeholders. “New Labour” was able to formulate an efficient corporate level strategy which contributed to the success of the party.
b) Competitive Strategy (also called Business Level Strategy). At this level the strategy involves deciding how the company will compete within each line of business or strategic business unit. For Tony Blair and Tom Sawyer it implies devising election campaigns and policies which are more attractive to electorate than election and campaigns of other political parties.
c) Functional Strategy. More localized and low-level strategies dealing with how each functional area and unit will conduct its functional activities to be more efficient.
3. Strategic master project planning
Fiby & Worstell (2003) differentiate master planning from design in terms of scale, scope, and timeline and insist that institution development generally occurs through a three-tiered process, comprised of strategic planning, master planning, and project design.
Labour’s strategic project planning was undertaken under the supervision of Tom Sawyer and helped to modernize the party vehicle in a more efficient one.
4. Strategy implementation.
According to Birnbaum (2009) successful strategy implementation includes six key supporting factors:
1. Action Planning
2. Organization Structure
3. Human Resources
4. The Annual Business Plan
5. Monitoring and Control
5. Strategy monitoring, reviewing and updating
The frequency of strategy reviews, McNamara (online, 2010) informs depends on the nature of the organization and the environment in which it is operating.
The last phase of strategy formulation and implementation was also successfully undertaken on a regular basis by Blair, Sawyer and other party leaders.
The case of transformation of Labour party from inefficient and unpopular party to a party which is open, innovative and successful is a proof that strategic decisions, or in some cases indecisions can make or break any company or organization. However, formulation of a winning strategy is not enough. Barriers to its successful implementation should be overcome. This can be achieved through careful analysis and planning and also through studying relevant case studies.
- Adair, J, 2007, Effective Leadership Development, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
- Birnbaum, B, 2009, “Strategy Implementation: Six Supporting Factors”, Retrieved, 25 June 2010, Available at: http://www.birnbaumassociates.com/strategy-implementation.htm
- Daniel, D, 22 October 2007, “10 Keys to a successful Business Intelligence Strategy”, CIO, Retrieved 25 June 2010 Available at: http://www.cio.com/article/148000/10_Keys_to_a_Successful_Business_Intelligence_Strategy?page=2&taxonomyId=3002
- Enterprise Modelling, 2010, Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia,
- Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_modelling Accessed on 20 June, 2010
- Fiby, M, Worstell, C, 2003, “Developing a Zoo master Plan. Why is a master plan is particularly important for zoos?”, Retrieved 29 June 2010, Available at: http://www.zoolex.org/publication/worstell/masterplan/masterplan.html
- Fox, MS & Gruninger, M, 1998, “Enterprise Modelling”, Al Magazine, vol.19, Number 3
- Freedman, M & Tregoe, BB, 2003, “The Art and Discipline of Strategic Leadership”, The MacGrow-Hill companies
- McNamara, C, 2010, “Great Value from Monitoring and Evaluation”, Free Management Library, Retrieved 27 June, 2010. Available at: http://managementhelp.org/plan_dec/str_plan/monitor.htm
- Smith, AM, 1 March 1998, “Justification for an Enterprise Model”, The Data Administration Newsletter Retrieved 20 June, 2010. Available at: http://www.tdan.com/view-articles/4232
- Thenmozhi, M, 2001, “Management Science I”, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras,