The Capability of Managers to Contribute to Implementation

The performance of the managers of implementing organizations, especially those at senior levels, directly affects the performance levels achieved by implementing organizations (White and Newcomer 2005). The type, quality, and extent of the contributions made by managers depend on their managerial capability—that is, how adeptly they carry out a trio of interrelated activities: strategizing, designing, and leading (Zuckerman and Dowling 1997; Longest 2005). These managerial activities are discussed below; later, attention is given to the importance ofmanagement competencies in implementing

Figure 8.2

The Core Activities in Managing organizations. Although the activities of managing are discussed here in sequence, in reality they exist as parts of a whole—a mosaic—in which all three activities are undertaken continuously and more or less simultaneously by managers. The relationship among these core activities in managing is depicted in Figure 8.2.

This activity pertains to the efforts of managers to establish suitable organi- Strategizing zational missions, goals, and objectives and to develop and carry out plans or strategies that are capable of accomplishing the purposes of their organization. When managers think strategically, they are thinking about how to adapt their organizational domains to the challenges and opportunities presented to them by their environment. Implementing organizations are dynamic, open systems. They exist in the context of an often remarkably complex external environment and frequently have an extensive organizational history.

The managers of an implementing organization routinely engage in ongoing exchanges with others in their organization's external environment and are influenced, sometimes dramatically, by what goes on in that external environment. Imagine, for example, the significance for an implementing organization of being assigned major new responsibilities or of having some of its core responsibilities curtailed. Or consider the operational impact on an implementing organization of a decisive shift in control of Congress, such as occurred in the 1992 congressional election or the midterm defection of Senator James Jeffords in 2001 from the Republican Party—a move that shifted overnight the control of the U. S. Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats because the party split in the Senate at the time was nearly equal.

When managers think and act strategically, they acknowledge the fact that their organization is affected by what goes on outside it, and their decisions and actions reflect this relationship. Thus, a crucial element of effective strategizing is expertise in discerning the significant information in their environment.

Effective managers engage in situational analysis as a means of identifying and assessing pertinent environmental information. Contemporary managers of implementing organizations must analyze enormous amounts of information that could potentially affect their organization. Much of this information pertains to the plans of executive branch administration, but information on the activities occurring in the legislative branch is also relevant. In addition, external biological, cultural, demographic, ecological, economic, ethical, legal, psychological, social, and technological information must also be analyzed for its potential impact on the organization.

In conducting comprehensive situational analyses, managers are required to proceed in four interrelated steps: (1) scanning the environment to identify strategic issues (i.e., trends, developments, opportunities, threats, or possible events) that could affect the organization; (2) monitoring the strategic issues identified; (3) forecasting or projecting the future directions of strategic issues; and (4) assessing the implications of the strategic issues for the organization.

Good situational analysis, however, includes more than external discernment. It adds a comprehensive assessment of the internal strengths and weaknesses of the organization and of the values held by those in the organization.

Armed with the external and internal information garnered from a thorough situational analysis, managers can formulate or refine relevant missions, goals, and objectives for their organization and develop suitable strategic plans for achieving them. The importance of effective strategizing is directly proportional to the nature of the relationship between an organization and its external environment and to the volatility of both its external and internal environments. Most implementation organizations are highly dependent on their external environment, and both their internal and external environments tend to be dynamic and fluid. The Real World of Health Policy: AoA's Strategic Action Plan, 2003-2008 illustrates the tangible result of strategizing in an implementing organization—a strategic plan.

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