Defining strategy may be challenging but executing strategic is much more difficult. As a leader of your organisation you know success requires a clear strategy. Even if your strategy is “try something and see” it still should be clearly stated. You will also know that defining the strategy is not easy. And aligning your team around the strategy is even more difficult. If you have any experience with implementing strategy you will know that no matter how hard it is to align your team around an effective strategy, getting them to execute the strategy is much much harder. Strategy usually requires changes in the business process and changes in behaviour of the team. And almost all organisations today are swamped by a flood of urgent and important daily tasks that each person knows they have to complete just to keep the business running. Taking time out to work on deliverables that are not urgent is hard to do in these environments, no matter how important they are.
While this is true, it is also possible to have individuals in a team so energised by the strategy that they engage in doing it under their own motivation. The role of leadership is then to guide and coach rather than to control and monitor. Teams in this state generate incredible drive and creativity in tackling the workload and the obstacles arising. These teams are far more likely to achieve their goals.
Most teams just miss the point. Far more common are teams in which the individuals do not understand the priorities on which they should focus. These teams usually cannot state the measures used to gauge their success. Nor can they list the measures they use daily to monitor that they are focussing on the right activities. They certainly don’t chart their progress and it is highly unlikely that members hold each other accountable for delivery. In these teams, delivery of the strategy slips by hours, then days, weeks and months. Finally when they meet a year later to review strategy they dig out the strategy plan set the previous year only to find that very little if anything of strategic significance has been established.
You can successfully plan and execute strategy. With the strategic delivery process we use in StrategyWorks our clients define Strategic Goals, what Steven Covey called ‘Wildly Important Goals’. These are the goals that, all else being the same, will have the most impact on delivering strategy. We then assist these teams to define the measures they can use to gauge how well their day to day activities are working to achieve those Wildly Important Goals. The teams create charts on which they track their progress and we help them implement processes to monitor and manage accountability for delivery within the team. The key activity is a very specific kind of weekly meeting. This is the engine for delivering the strategy. And it must be done correctly.
Execution can be focussed in projects. We work with organisations who prefer to implement strategic objectives through formal projects. A team of skilled individuals work together on a project with a clear context, objectives, tasks, deliverables and resources is a highly effective way to make great strides in strategic delivery. In fact it is the only way to succesfully carry out large pieces of work. At StrategyWorks we use structured workshops to conceptualise, define and plan project work.
We are in the privileged position of watching our key clients turning their businesses around to success. Call us to talk about how this could work for you