William Hackos, Jr., PhD
Vice-President, Comtech Services, Inc.

As a manager in your company, you are constantly in the dilemma of wanting your staff to take responsibility and initiative while at the same time wanting them to make decisions in line with company goals. Too little staff responsibility brings all decisions to management, while too much responsibility can lead to chaos.

This problem is magnified in many publications departments because you are not only managing your own office but probably some remote locations, telecommuters, as well as a variety of contract workers. How do you encourage initiative in such a diverse organization?

In an article entitled “Transforming Corner Office Strategy into Frontline Action” in the May 2001 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Orit Gadiesh and James L. Gilbert suggest a tool that many successful companies are already using.

The tool is the “strategic principle.” The authors give examples:

AOL “Consumer connectivity first—anytime, anywhere”
Wal-Mart “Low prices, every day”
Dell “Be direct”

How does a strategic principle differ from a mission statement? A mission statement describes company culture, while a strategic principle describes a company strategy.

Your diverse staff, using the company strategic principle, can have guidance to help them make their own decisions in line with company strategy.

What is your company’s strategic principle?