Published Article

Create a Winning Strategy
While Building a Winning Culture

September 2005


By David Calfee and Steve Sheridan, Published in Electric Light and Power

Faced with the challenges of developing a long-term strategy for profitable growth and engaging his organization to make the strategy happen, Mike Chesser, CEO of Great Plains Energy (GPE), and his COO, Bill Downey, began with a set of beliefs to guide the strategy development effort.

  • GPE’s Strategic Intent must succeed across a range of scenarios that take into account technology advances, environmental requirements, commodity price and supply changes, and even changes in the demographics of the workforce. Too often, energy companies, mistakenly predicting one scenario, invested heavily only to realize the potential for multiple scenarios over time.
  • A company’s culture is the only real long-term source of sustainable competitive advantage. Developing strategies and culture together can serve as powerful reinforcements for each other. Furthermore, organizational cultures can either accelerate or hinder the successful execution of any strategy.
  • The strategy development process could serve as a good way to kick-start and model the desired culture. For GPE this would mean broad employee inclusion rather than development by a select handful of managers.
  • A culture of engagement and empowerment represents one side of the success equation. A commitment to individual and collective accountability for results represents the other.

Therefore, getting an entire organization engaged around the related tasks of developing the strategy and creating a supportive “Winning Culture” increases the likelihood that both will be successful.

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