Each of these three areas are critical for the execution of successful strategy. If any one of these areas are neglected or overlooked it increases the likelihood of failure.
The Way Strategy is Developed
The successful execution of strategy begins with its development. How strategy is developed directly affects the likelihood of success. Why? People only support what they help create. The typical approach followed by organisations, is to develop their strategy using internal or more commonly external “experts”. Once developed they then try to sell the strategy to get people to commitment. The results? You guessed it. Another failed strategy.
Some of the most common mistakes in the development of strategy are as follows:
- Lack of broad participation and collaboration.
- Strategy development is outsourced to “experts”.
- Strategy development is rushed.
- Executives under pressure and jump too quickly into adopting a “solution”.
You cannot outsource the development of strategy or leave it to a small group of experts to create. This approach results in a lack of buy-in and a lack of commitment. Unless people are involved in the creation of strategy, commitment and execution will be difficult, if not impossible to achieve.
The development of strategy requires the involvement and collaboration of as many people as possible. People need to be provided with an opportunity to meaningfully contribute and shape the strategy.
There are many ways to increase participation in the development of strategy, such as:
- Conducting interviews with key stakeholders to get their input and perspectives.
- The use of steering committees with broad representation from across the enterprise.
- The delegation of analysis and recommendations to task teams and work groups.
- Involving impacted people in making difficult decisions and trade-offs.
The development of strategy cannot be rushed nor can it be outsourced to “experts”. If the organisation’s leaders do not own the development of strategy it will not be taken seriously by others. The successful development of strategy requires broad participation, collaboration with stakeholders, robust debate and ownership from senior executives.
Bottom Line: People will only support what they help create!
The Way Strategy is Communicated
One of the reasons strategy fails is that organisation’s spend the majority of their time on the development of strategy and invest little in communication. Poor communication results in the fragmentation of the strategic intent and limited execution. Without effective communication strategy gets interpreted in different ways, it gets watered down and eventually looses momentum.
Some of the most common communication mistakes include the following:
- Communication lacks a holistic and integrated plan.
- Communication is treated as a number of discrete events.
- Communication is primarily top-down, one-way communication.
- Not providing regular communication on progress, requesting input and suggestions.
Everyone needs to understand an organisation’s strategy for it to guide them in making the right decisions. Without effective communication the strategy fragments and execution breaks down.
- Effective communication is a process, not a number of discrete events. Strategic communication requires careful planning and should be managed as an ongoing process.
- Effective communications is frequent and repetitive. You need to keep strategy alive and front of mind. Frequent communication helps to achieve this and serves to reenforce what the organisation is trying to achieve.
- Effective communication is two-way. Make sure that your communication is not primarily top-down and one-way. Create opportunities to debate and discuss the various elements of the strategy and its implications.
Bottom Line: Nothing happens until it happens in someones mind first! This requires effective and targeted communication. Communication helps your message take root in the minds of others.
The Way Strategy is Lived
Successful execution of strategy is a journey that requires careful management of organisational change. To be successful strategy must lived, that is translate into action.
Some of the most common reasons strategy is not translated into actions is as follows:
- Failure to hold one another accountable.
- Lack of trust in the senior team.
- Failure of senior executives to show the way and lead by example.
- Lack of personal transformation by senior executives.
Strategy requires change. And effective change demands personal transformation. Unless senior leaders commit to change. To change what they do and how they do it strategy will stall. Successful execution requires executives to lead by example. People don’t do why you say, they do what you do. Saying one thing and doing another undermines organisational trust and the commitment to taking action.
Until people see their leaders committed to change they’ll remain on the fence. Watching and waiting to see how important the new strategy really is to the organisation’s leaders. Change only starts when the leaders commit to hold themselves accountable to the strategy, to change and take the lead.
Bottom Line: People don’t do why you say, they do what you do
Where Do You Stand?
Organisations that have successfully executed their strategy consist of people who have participated in the development of the strategy. Resulting in an organisations filled with people who understand the strategy and are committed to taking consistent action.
Considering these three inter-related concerns how effectively are you executing your strategy?