Changing the Way the World Thinks about Strategy

By M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant

Strategic Planning Expert

Strategic Planning Expert

Many people, including yours truly, have written extensively on the value of increasing employee engagement.  There are many good reasons to do so.  Included are: Better attitudes, better involvement in the success of the company or organization, higher productivity, better quality, lower scrap or rejects, better profitability, higher levels of internal entrepreneurship, more suggestions for improvement and overall better relationships within the company.

But, how about the engagement of those at the top of the organization with the rest of the organization?  As a leader, are you realistically engaged with your company, your people, your suppliers, your customers and prospects, or are you somewhat or totally isolated from all the day to day situations, pressures and possibilities that being engaged could force you to confront and deal with?

How open is your office door, really?  This doesn’t mean you have to have unfettered 24 hour a day open access, but it might tell you a lot if no one is allowed in to talk with you without going through your gatekeeper and having a good reason to meet with you.

Another question:  How often do you escape the confines of your office to explore different parts of your office and factory floor/production area?  Years ago, George Odiorne postulated that MBWA (Managing By Wandering Around) was a positive way to keep your finger on the pulse of the organization.  By walking around your office and production areas, talking with people at random and listening even more than you were talking, you would learn much about the tenor of things in your organization.  Are your people open to talking with you candidly, or are they reticent to bring up any uncomfortable subjects, to discuss problems with you or to offer constructive suggestions about solving problems or on new products or services, or on how to improve what your organization is already doing?  MBWA will tell you quickly what the atmosphere, and thus the environment in your organization is, and whether you have a problem of having or not having the trust of your people.

The external equivalent of MBWA is taking time to visit or meet with both suppliers and customers.  A few low key meetings with key suppliers, aimed at establishing a good rapport, can tell you if your organization has good relationships or some problem areas.  Doing this regularly can help you establish an ongoing positive situation, or it can help you understand what problems might exist and start your company down the road to resolving those issues and bettering your collaborations.

Similarly, by visiting key customers/clients once in a while, you can build your communications and relationships to a higher level, increasing your organization’s visibility and connections.  This should help improve the organization’s levels of trust and reliability in the eyes of your customer/client.

Keeping oneself isolated and unavailable is usually not the best way to keep involved in both the internal and external sides of the company/organization.  Becoming more visible, more available and involved can’t help but improve your organization’s responsiveness and, in the long run, profitability and reliability.

For help in improving your strategic planning, including your internal and external engagement and communications, please contact me at: or at 616-575-3193.

Another way to enhance engagement is to educate and align the organization to the strategic plan.  To learn more about strategic alignment, please listen to our webinar: Strategic Alignment: How to get your people to make your strategies work.

M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at:

© Copyright 2015 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

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