A bold vision, a winning strategy and a great deal of luck are factors that help growth. Quality, innovation and people are three important pillars in the development of every business. People, of course, have a key role in all this. How to set the right strategy for development and optimize processes was among the topics of the 2022 Business Excellence Forum.
Going Forward – but How
In the beginning of 2015, Google looked
for local providers in more than 35 countries and offered a leadership program
to the managers of the digital agency it would work with. They selected people
who would implement the ambitious program in each country, and their training
was in Buenos Aires. The first topic was “Strategy and Strategic Targeting”.
The audience was of 12 people, waiting to see Google’s approach to these
important issues. But instead of a ready answer, they were expected to offer
know-how on how to make a strategy. They were given an opportunity to choose
the way the trainings were going to take place. But after setting out the basic
principles and rules for carrying out the strategic planning training,
everything turned 180 degrees and full control was imposed. This personal
experience showed Plamen Petrov, Managing Partner of Equinox Partners, that
freedom of thought and creativity were needed when creating a business
strategy. But once established, everyone has to follow it firmly. Most often,
however, the approach is the opposite – firmness in the creation of the
strategy and absolute freedom in its implementation. And the problems are not
late to appear.
The world is changing very fast and long-term strategies are no longer working. Figuratively speaking, the strategy is no longer written in stone, it changes on the move according to the circumstances, says Darina Stoyanova, Executive Director of Prestige-96.
Strategy is the tool for realizing the vision, explains Ivaylo Netsov, Executive Director for Bulgaria of the Foodpanda food delivery platform. More than two years ago, the company led by him set the goal of offering the best food delivery service. At that time, there were 20 people working in the Bulgarian office, but not all of them were able to follow the pace with which the company was developing. The hard decision was what the approach towards them should have been – whether to keep them and to hinder development, or to look at this issue from the point of view of “business is business.” According to Netsov, the fast pace of life requires fast changes in the company. One thing is the speed at which the business is developing, and another is the speed at which people are changing. It’s like an elastic band – if you stretch it too much, it starts to tear. The bigger the company, the more you stretch this elastic band and the more holes begin to appear.
The Way Up
Prestige is one of the largest companies in the food industry in Bulgaria. The company has two plants and more than 600 employees. “Quality - Innovation - People” are three main elements in its development and growth strategy, which are a true guideline in the constant change. Quality and innovation are related to what the company is doing. And people are responsible for how it is doing it, Darina Stoyanova says. And she adds: “We appreciate consumers’ feedback, both positive feedback and criticism being important to us. We work on over 30 markets and the quality for us is related to satisfying the tastes of each market, but also to observing all legal requirements. There is no unification for all of them, but a good knowledge of the specificities of each market is required. Three labs in Prestige are engaged in R&D and production control. They control the whole process – from suppliers and the production itself to everything that reaches the client. Innovation is a responsibility in the quest for providing consumers with new flavours, new products that are up-to-date with modern trends. Studies show that the life cycle of products is very short – it is less than two years. Therefore, over 800 products in the categories in which Prestige operates, are launched every year on the market, but very few of them manage to stay for a long time. During all changes, however, people keep their key role in implementing the strategy. The spirit of the team is unique.”
There are two ways to deal with competitors on the market – one is to acquire them, the other one is to defeat them. If you become a monopolist on the market, then it’s easy, but to defeat competitors, you need to improve the quality of products, processes and services. It is a matter of strategy how to achieve the high goal and how to retain quality. In any case, what is required is good knowledge of the market and taking great risks. The team should always be on the alert and everyone should be fully committed, Ivaylo Netsov assures. He reminds that a delicate thing about management is to find the balance between caring for people and being firm towards them. Managers have to push their teams in such a way that they work at 110%, but not 130%, because at one point the performance suddenly drops to 80%. When people work slightly above the possible maximum, this allows the company to grow faster without entering the burn-up zone.
But how the company will advance
depends also on where it wants to go.