Are you implementing your strategy effectively?

 

In most organizations, strategy development gets the most attention and often is seen as the “sexy” work. A lot of effort is put into developing the “perfect” strategy, often with the help of external consultants. More often than not the hype surrounding the initial strategy developed quickly fizzles out. When the desired results are not achieved, the blame game begins. In this article we highlight some of the typical shortcomings when leaders implement strategies in their organizations. The implementation of new strategy is often painful for large organisations. The rollout of new transformational change would impact many dimensions of the organisation such as:

  1. Organisation structure
  2. Internal Processes
  3. Culture & behaviour
  4. Competencies

 

From our experience, we find that leaders are able to develop strategy but fall short when it comes to implementing strategy. Academic books depict strategy development as a rational process and assumes that the implementation will later follow in the same logical process. Leaders also tend to assume that once the strategy is conceived, implementation is a given. However our experience shows that strategy implementation is never such a rational process as there are many unconscious emotional factors hinder change. The people’s dimension of strategy implementation is often overlooked by many leaders. Any strategy lacking understanding and buy-in from the organisation’s staff is doomed to fail.

At the corporate level, a strategy may seem realistic and sound. What we find is that middle management usually struggles to operationalize these grand strategies. Middle management is not able to see the intermediate steps required to fulfill the strategy. As such, leaders need to focus on cascading strategy through the organization by translating strategy into measurable operational objectives. These operational objectives in turn must be translated to action items. Leaders must also ensure strong causal relationship between the operational objectives and the action items.

Once there are clear action items, these action items must be tracked and measured. Regular tracking is the only way to ensure that the action items are implemented as planned. Leaders must also set the right measures and targets for the action items. The measures must be the right combination of leading and lagging indicators. Appropriate targets should be set so as to stretch the organisation while still being realistic. Without the right measures and targets in place to guide the Strategy Implementation, the implementation usually fails.

Once strategy implementation has been successfully initiated across the organisation, focus needs to shift to sustaining the change. Recognition and reward is critical to reinforce the desired behavioural change. Strategy Implementation is only sustainable when you recognise and reward individuals for taking the right actions.

Finally regular performance review and re-alignment is required to maintain organisational focus on the strategy. With time, there is a natural tendency to focus on immediate operational issues and lose focus on the long term strategy. Leaders must ensure that the whole organisation stays the course to realise the benefit of the strategy.

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, strategy development and implementation must be integrated to provide quick feedback. Implementation is the only way to validate the effectiveness of the strategy. The organisation will be more agile when it uses these feedback to modify its strategy depending on what works on the ground.

The above described attributes are part and parcel of a formal Strategy Implementation System. We at ChangeDynamics (  http://www.changedynamics.biz) have successfully helped clients setup formal strategy implementation System within their organisation. If your organisation is about to embark on Strategy Implementation, please contact us to learn how you can avert the typical pit falls by putting in place a format Strategy Implementation System. We are happy to have a no commitment discussion to exchange ideas that may help your organisation.