Integrating strategy formulation and implementation: a case of the commercial banking industry in Kenya
Strategic thinking and the translation of its results into action programs are of overriding importance in today's globally competitive and dynamic business environment. Successful strategies rely on a judicious mix of analytical formulation, internal and external communication, and strong leadership in the execution process. Strategic success demands a simultaneous view of planning and doing. Managers must be thinking about execution as they are formulating plans, as plans are part of an integrated, strategic management approach. Separating strategy creation from strategy implementation is thus a hindrance to the evolution of a successful strategy. Linking creation and implementation supports the overall process, and thus a strategy emerges and evolves. This study sought to analyze the integration of strategy formulation and implementation in Kenya with an emphasis on the commercial banking industry. There were two main objectives of this study: first was to establish how managers integrate the strategy formulation and implementation process; secondly, to identify the challenges that were encountered during the integration process. The study was a Census survey and the population included all operating commercial banks licensed by the central bank of Kenya. At the time of the study there were 42 licensed commercial. banks operating in Kenya. Out if the 42, only 17 commercial banks responded to this study constituting 42% of the total population. The study used primary data, collected by use of a structured questionnaire, consisting of both closed and open ended questions where qualitative and quantitative analysis was done. For the integration to be effective strategy making ought to be a participatory process with everyone in the organization being involved in one way or the other. However it was found out that, the directors and the chief executive officers were the most heavily involved with the employees being least involved. It was further observed that all companies considered implementation issues during formulation. However emphasis was laid on resources, staffing and staff skills while organizational culture, values and structure were least considered. In training middle managers emphasis was laid on strategy implementation as that is seen as their core function in the organization. Emergent strategies were also highly considered in strategic training. Astonishingly however, environmental scanning and management of emergent strategies were the least considered in strategic training. Some level of involvement of middle managers in strategic discussions and negotiations was also reported in most organizations. In most organizations strategy was communicated to employees through middle managers and departmental heads in developmental meetings, staff meetings and briefings. Internal memos, E-mails, circulars, newsletters and/or magazines were used in all organizations. However, only one organization was using the balanced scorecard in communicating its strategy to its employees.