Strategy Execution: 6 Ways to Ensure Your Plan Is Utilized
Planning is nothing new to organizations, as they have been developing multi-year roadmaps for achieving their goals since their inception. However, organizations often struggle with strategy execution.
Strategy Execution: 6 Ways to Ensure Your Plan Is Utilized
Often, leaders focus on crafting their vision and forming clear, tangible objectives, and tend to spend less time focusing on the importance of deploying their strategy. When this happens, the execution phase becomes overwhelming as leaders struggle with issues such as change management, insufficient resources, project management, and a lack of executive support. This ultimately leads to strategies being “shelved” and not given the necessary priority, resulting in wasted time, money, and resources. While there are many barriers to deploying your strategic vision, you can navigate the choppy waters of strategy execution by including these six components in your strategic planning process, which will help ensure your strategy stays off the shelf.
1. Leverage the power of data
A valuable strategic plan is a tool that helps organizations solve issues that are plaguing them. A common misstep in strategy development comes from an over reliance on personal and/or emotional bias, as opposed to fact-based, from leaders when they are deciding what problems they need to solve, and in fact find a ‘problem.’
To prevent emotional biases from creeping into the process, companies who develop and implement a fact-based, data-driven approach to fully understand the root cause and impact of organizational problems could avoid a potentially harmful outcome. The identification of problems must start by understanding the data that is available (both internally and externally) and by identifying what types of data need to be leveraged.
Data comes in many forms and utilizing a wide variety of data will help identify problems, strengthen decision-making ability, improve your strategic planning outcomes, and overall help drive your business forward.
Help identify and solve problems. It comes through through tracking and reviewing business processes.
Strengthen data drivendecision making. Minimize the time between data availability and its use. It can be collected from sources such as customer interactions, online transactions, web traffic, and social media.
Employee and operational performance data can reveal opportunities for improving business processes that reduce lead time and cost. This information can be obtained through yearly performance reviews, surveys, assessments, etc.
2. Create alignment between strategy and the organization
Successful strategy execution depends on your organization’s ability to align objectives with roles and responsibilities. Having a great strategy, which you believe can be executed, doesn’t mean it will lead to clear actions for employees. Even the highest performing employees may still miss the mark if leaders guide them with the wrong targets. That is why strategic planning should cascade naturally from corporate to business units to functional departments, and, ultimately, to individual employees.
Strategically aligned organizations focus on their most important asset: people. Implementing any strategy starts with educating, involving, and aligning the people responsible for executing it. Take the time to review your strategic objectives for clarity and to ensure you have people in place who can provide execution ownership.
3. Build a common understanding
Communication is often cited as one of the major reasons why strategic objectives never see the light of day. Without communication, the workplace is not a connected environment. So, without clear, consistent communication how do you expect your strategy to be successful?
When leaders don’t focus on communication, it creates the risk of misaligned strategic objectives which leads to employees wondering what work is important, how to prioritize problems and goals, and what their function is. It also can create resentment as employees either don’t feel they are being listened to or simply don’t buy in what the organization is seeking to accomplish.
Communication creates an understanding of what is going to happen, why is it happening, and how are we going to accomplish it. It is critical for disseminating information that employees need to be effective and serves to build relationships and trust across the organization.
By finding ways to solicit feedback and input along the journey, leaders gain the ability to better understand results, to be more problem specific, address re-occurring negative situations, and make communication more thorough. Designing a comprehensive communication plan focused on engaging essential employees — that includes the “why, what, and how” of the new strategy — will help win support and develop trust between leadership and individual contributors while establishing ownership over change initiatives.
4. Balance your capacity
When a major initiative is about to go live, ensure the availability of the appropriate resources (time, people, assets, capabilities, etc.) for achieving the corresponding goals. Many organizations fail to consider their capacity constraints when executing a strategy, and employees often struggle to maintain a healthy balance between day-to-day business and the execution of strategic initiatives. This presents a risk to your strategy as employees are most likely to prioritize the 'day jobs' for which they were originally hired.
Strategic objectives should be incorporated into employee functions and current business processes. This helps eliminate the common misconception that a new strategy creates more work and not new work. Phasing the deployment of initiatives and meeting regularly to monitor performance can help prevent teams from feeling overwhelmed. This approach to capacity planning can make a huge difference.
5. Commitment to change
Most failures in strategic execution can be attributed to employee resistance due to lack of engagement, understanding, and leadership support. Anticipate and mitigate that risk by crafting a change management plan that makes a clear case for change and includes provisions for engaging employees, measuring progress, managing barriers to implementation, and ensuring change is sustainable.
considerations when forming your change management plan:
Determine the impact of change in terms of people, process, and technology
Develop a robust, multi-channel communication strategy
Provide effective and informative training on new processes, expectations, and technology
Implement a support structure, such as cross-training employees, to allow your company the flexibility to utilize the talent of your staff
Measure the effectiveness of the change process
6. Drive accountability
A culture of accountability creates individual ownership over parts of the strategy, improves their understanding of how strategy is performing, and empowers them to course-correct when things go wrong. There is no question that ownership leads to a better likelihood of success. Clear governance and accountability helps people become committed to strategic change and increases their ability to recognize the successes and failures of strategic activities.
promote effective strategic governance:
Ensure there is surveillance over internal and external factors that can potentially impact the organization’s strategy
Continuously and systematically check whether assumptions on which the organization’s strategy is based are valid
Evaluate the organization’s strategy execution effectiveness
Verify that strategy is being executed as planned and determine whether results are being delivered as expected
Time to Recap
Successful strategy execution can be an tedious process. It requires a well thought-out plan that accounts for the considerations listed above. Leadership needs to communicate clearly and consistently, and maintain alignment with the workforce throughout the entire journey. Hopefully these tips will create a seamless transition between planning and execution, ensuring the hard work invested into your plan doesn’t go to waste.
How Aspirant Can Help
Aspirant's Strategy & Deliveryexperts have helped clients of varying size and industry develop and execute strategic plans that achieve their organizational goals. Use the form below to request a casual discussion about how they can do the same for you and your team.
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A highly driven and motivated leader with a passion of solving problems by developing innovative and creative solutions that position organizations to achieve success. He has experience in construction, financial institutions, food production, hospitality, manufacturing, alternative medicine, pharmaceuticals, sports & entertainment, and technology. He is an engaging leader that displays enthusiasm and places a strong emphasis on working with people in the process to better understand, develop, influence and execute solutions and strategies guide organizations to meeting their goals.