1. STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT
Strategic management is a system approach focused on the identification and realization
of the necessary changes and keeping up with the performance of the organization as it
evolves in the direction of the proposed long-term vision (De Backer, 2002).
You can say that strategic management involves daily elaboration and development of the
management idea. It has to be remembered that strategic management is a process, what
means that it is a lot bigger then just drawing the lines of a management plan, besides it is
a repetitive process what implies that when a planning cycle is completed, the company
has to decide when they will start with the next one.
As noted by Naylor (1999), strategic management has four core activities:
- Strategic analysis: is the stage of data collection and interpretation.
- Strategy selection: involves the generation of possible choices for the future.
- Strategy implementation: means taking the chosen pattern and ensuring that
it is carried out through the organisation.
- Strategic control: is required just as control is needed in any management
We can apply the theory of strategic management on the Belgian supermarket group
Delhaize, which has also shops in the USA, Albania, Greece, Indonesia, etc. Delhaize’s
previous image was one of being more expensive than other supermarkets, but offering a
big assortment of quality products.
In their strategic analysis they try to make a profile of their customers. Results show us
that Delhaize customers have fast changing needs and therefore like new products.
Trying to get rid of the image of being more expensive, Delhaize chose for a new price
image. They want to be the cheapest concerning the vegetables and fruit and attract more
families with children. To achieve these goals Delhaize dropped the prices of 1.000
products in 2008 and continued doing so in 2009. They also created a house brand that is
cheaper than Aldi’s or Lidl’s and to attract the families they started with “collecting
campaigns” of Pixar or The Smurfs gadgets for the kids.
After some period of time Delhaize evaluated its new strategy selection and the results
were positive, their market share has grown (Ref 1)!
So strategic management helps focusing the energy within the organisation to obtain the
long-term development. It also increases the capacity of the company to achieve the
management plan in certain time schedule. The organisation learns as well to work better
with its environment and it gives the company the opportunity to, at least annually, adapt
to the change of circumstances (De Roeck, 2002).
We can conclude that when clear fixed goals are made, companies achieve better
performances and are better prepared to meet their competitors.
2. PROJECT MANAGEMENT
In general projects are usually implemented to achieve the strategic plan of an
organisation. Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, expedients and
techniques on project activities to fulfill the project requirements. Project management is
executed with the help of processes such as: initiating, planning, executing, controlling
- executed by humans
- they are unique and temporal
- they are planned, executed and controlled
- they are limited because of limited resources
Projects may not be confused with operations, because in contrast with projects,
operations have a continuous and repetitive character.
Because projects are unique creations they hold a high degree of risk. That is why
projects are divided into several phases that are called together ‘project lifecycle’ to boost
the control of the management and to provide links between the ongoing operations
source: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Ontwerpmethodologie, S. Vanlanduit
When the chocolate manufacturer Côte d’Or wants to bring out a new product on the
market the project manager needs to investigate what the project budget and the available
time to achieve the goal will be. The next step will be to define and plan the project in
more detail and investigate the risk it will take. This work is done by the team and
coordinated by the project manager.
When the new product is created they can start with testing it. Côte d’Or invented a nice
system for this. On their website you can become a ‘official taster’ of Côte d’Or, this
implies that Côte d’Or sends you their new products before they are available on the
market, so you get change to taste them. If you reply to them, giving your opinion about
the product you will be able to win nice prizes or get discount coupons for their products.
How more you do this how better the rewards get and meanwhile Côte d’Or receives
feedback about their new product before launching it so they still have the opportunity to
do some adjustments.
After bringing the new product on the market, Côte d’Or investigates if the new product
has achieved the expectations and they draw their conclusions (Ref 2).
We can say about project management that it entails balancing a project’s timeframe,
budget and overall scope as the team works to meet its objectives. Excellent use of
project management results in higher morale, a greater sense of ownership and
professionalism among team members and increase productivity and profitability (Ref 3).
3. FEEDBACK CONTROL
“Feedback control involves reviewing information to determine whether performance
meets established standards” (Wouters, n.d.) Cybernetics experts refer to the control
activity as based on negative feedback what is not an unfavourable response. It means
that the control unit responds to errors so as to reverse them. The elements of such
control are shown in the figure below (Naylor, 1999).
source: Management, J. Naylor, 1999
- Goals: a precondition of any control is setting out standards.
- Monitor Performance: measuring process outputs.
- Comparison: compares the monitoring results with the goals.
- Control Action: the corrective action to be taken depends on the details of the
For example, in 2011 Jetair established the goal to increase their bookings with 5 percent.
To make sure that this goal would be reached, the organization monitored its bookings
every month. After four months, the results of the bookings increased by 1.75 percent.
So the management staff assumed that the plans were going according schedule. No
corrective actions had to be taken (Ref 4).
Feedback control has an important advantage. Every process copes with a changing
environment by which it is affected, but with feedback control errors and changes can be
followed up very frequently and in detail and the company can respond quickly and make
adjustments easily before it is to late.
4. UPWARD COMMUNICATION
“Upward communication is the information flow from the lower levels of a hierarchy to
the upper levels” (Ref 5). The communication that flows within the organisations from
the authorities to the subordinates is in general more used than the upward
communication. Lack of upward communication (from employees to executives) can
cause problems. The top layer may interpret the silence as a sign of satisfaction.
Employees choose to keep quiet because they believe it is useless to mention problems or
because of the fear they will be seen as complainers.
By seeking the opinion of employees it gets clearer to the leading figures of a company
what is really going on among their people: what is going well and what should change.
With more input from the employees more ideas and possible solutions will arise.
Advantages of upward communication (Ref 6):
- Feedback: It provides feedback from the employees. As a result the
communication cycle completes and management can realize the reactions of
- Constructive ideas: Upward communication allows the employees to inform
their views regarding the implementation of company policies.
- Helps decision making: Through upward communication top management
can know the views of lower level employees which help them to make more
- Establishment of a good relationship: Upward communication brings
executives and employees close to each other.
- Mutual trust: For the success of any sort of communication trust is an
essential element. As a relationship develops through upward communication
mutual trust is created as well.
Some companies like General Electric, Anheuser-Bush and McDonald’s have an upward
communication system that uses a corporate “ombudsperson” position. A highly placed
executive who is available outside the formal chain of command to hear employees’
complaints usually holds this position. The system provides an opportunity for
disgruntled employees to complain without fear of losing their jobs and may help some
companies achieve a balanced communication system (Griffin-Moorhead, 2010).
From my own experience I can tell that within the electronics supermarket chain Saturn
the department managers meet at least once a month with their salesmen on an individual
basis to discuss how everything is going, informing if they have any concerns. Even if the
meeting is just a chit-chat, it creates an important relationship between supervisor and
1 Het Nieuwsblad. (2009) Delhaize
[online] 16 September 2009
Available at: http://www.nieuwsblad.be
2 Côte d’Or (n.d.) Officiële Proever [online]
Available at: http://www.cotedor.com
3 Villanova University (n.d.) Advantages of having a project manager [online]
Available at: http://www.villanova.com
4 Evenpoel, K. (2012) Jetair weer goede leerling in Tui-klas. De Tijd,
[online] 9 August 2012
Available at: http://www.detijd.be
5 Business Dictionary (n.d.) What is upward communication? Definition and
Available at: http://www.businessdictionary.com
6 Business Communication Dergree Solutions (n.d.) Advantages and disadvantages
of upward communication [online]
Available at: http://www.communication-business.blogspot.co.uk