ERIC is a workshop toolkit used by 2GC to support the early stages of strategy formation with a leadership team.
The toolkit is designed to help a group consider collectively four factors that strongly influence strategic choices, and by so doing begin their process of agreeing a strategic destination for their organisation. The toolkit was developed by 2GC alongside and to aid its consulting activities, and has been applied and proven innumerable times since it was introduced in 2001.
ERIC is also used with management teams of units within organisations that need to contribute toward a common set of strategic goals - where the challenge facing the management team is to work out how they can best balance conflicting and competing operational and strategic pressures.
The outputs from work using the ERIC toolkit are particularly useful starting points for work to develop a 3rd Generation Balanced Scorecard Destination Statement.
How does ERIC work?
ERIC is a workshop based toolkit - it is applied during one or more long working session with the relevant management group. It is self-documenting, and while facilitated by an experienced consultant relies upon group working to generate the content and session outputs. The working session considers in turn four key topics - which together form the acronym that gives workshop toolkit its title:
E - Expectations
The first topic considers and inventories the expectations that the organisational unit is accountable for delivering. This is a straightforward exercise for most teams - and comprises:
- identifying a list of stakeholders (both external and internal to the organisation) and
- for each stakeholder articulating what expectation(s) each have of the unit the management team are responsible for - typically described in terms of the outcomes each would like the unit to achieve (and by when).
Once this list has been captured, a second stage is to review each stakeholder expectation in turn and to discuss the necessity (and feasibility) of achieving each.
R - Resources
In similar fashion to the Expectations discussion, this second part of the toolkit focuses on identifying the resources available to the organisational unit that could be deployed to help the unit meet the expectations identified.
Most groups initially build a list of resources that is insufficient to meet all the expectations, and so second part of this discussion is discussing what other resources would be needed by the group, and the practicality of these 'missing' resources being obtained.
I - Interventions
The third topic of the ERIC toolkit is to to discuss and agree upon the range of managerial interventions open to them:
- what managerial levers could they use to direct or encourage their unit to achieve the expectations, and
- what options are there open to the management group to go back and change stakeholder expectations?
The management group's ability to acheive the expectations placed upon them is closely linked to the available range of interventions identified.
C - Constraints
The fourth topic considers the practical constraints that will limit the management group's ability to direct the organisational unit they lead to satisfy the stakeholder expectations identified earlier. These constraints may be material (e.g. lack of budget) or political (e.g. difficulty getting co-operation from another group in the organisation).
The discussion focuses on identifying what the constraints are, and for each whether any mitigation options are available, and if so how the mitigation could be obtained.
ERIC - Combining the elements
Once these four topics have been considered it is relatively straightforward to translate the ideas generated by the group into a combined consensus view of the stakeholder expectations that the group realistically think can be achieved, along with reflections upon the steps the group will need to take to secure the appropriate resources and / or remove binding constraints.
Usually a separate list of stakeholder expectations that the group does not think are realistic or achieveable is also generated, and for each of these agreement is reached on how the group will act to mitigate / adjust these expectations.
With this clarity about the contribution the group can make towards realising the required stakeholder expectations, and what will need to be done to be able to make this contribution, a more general discussion can then be held to consider how making the identified contribution will affect the organisational unit over time - and so begins the work to draft the core elements of a unit based Destination Statement.
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