This is an occasional blog on subjects pertaining to leadership, strategy, coaching, leadership development, and everything in between. You can sign up using the form at the left. © 2016 McKnight-Kaney.
The five “must do’s” of strategy execution
FOR EACH OF THE LAST TWELVE YEARS, Strategy Execution had been the number one topic on the minds of CEOs, according to the annual CEO survey of by the Conference Board. Most businesses have a strategy but senior leaders are frustrated in their attempts to deploy strategy from “the top to the shop.” if strategy is not effectively implemented throughout the organization and down to the frontlines, then merely “doing” strategy at the top is an expensive, time consuming and low ROI undertaking.
So, what’s the problem? The challenge for the C suite is to extend their strategic planning efforts beyond the typical tactics of implementation such as MBO systems, performance management processes and “cascading” the strategy via internal communications, town halls, etc. Such deployment tactics are necessary but not sufficient for successful implementation. The solution is multi faceted and crucial to success in strategy execution, to the extent that any absence of the components of execution listed below may seriously jeopardize the ability to implement strategy.
The CEO and leadership team must design and drive the execution process. Once strategy is formulated, a detailed plan for execution is essential. While the details may be delegated to some extent, the execution plan and its implementation must be owned and guided by the senior leadership team.
Involve middle managers as early as possible in the strategy implementation process. It’s a straightforward proposition: To engage the workforce and help them to align their objectives with strategy, middle and line management must first become engaged and informed about the strategy. Frontline employees look first to their managers for information and direction. Therefore, mid-managers and line supervisors must be informed and knowledgeable about the strategy and how the strategy translates to their objectives and priorities. In turn, line managers engage employees in focusing their objectives efforts on strategic priorities
Research has shown that lack of top team alignment is the number one barrier to effective strategy execution. The leadership team must be aligned behind the strategy. Alignment means that there is both consensus and commitment (what we call “convergence”) to the strategy among the leadership team. All team members must be prepared to speak with one voice in transmitting the strategy throughout the organization.
A strategy-capable organization is one that is focused, agile and adaptable to change. Such agility is largely a function of the design of the organization to fit the strategy. Design requires a “systems” approach whereby the organization structure, capabilities, business and people processes, rewards systems and enabling technology are aligned to the strategy and strategic initiatives. Organization design cannot be left to chance nor is it “once and done.” It is a continuous process of adaptation and the careful management of change.
Measure, evaluate and adjust
Truism: What gets measured gets results. Measure not only financial results but also other essential drivers of strategy implementation, such as business and people processes, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, etc., utilizing a “balanced scorecard” approach. Improve and adjust processes to maintain alignment of processes and systems to strategy, utilizing continuous improvement methods and tools.
An organization that can implement the LEADM principles will gain significant competitive advantage by having an aligned leadership team and an engaged workforce, working in unison toward the organization’s mission, goals and objectives.