Implementation: Where your Strategy comes to life
Corporate servers are littered with strategic plans that were intended to be game changers but fell short of expectations. Often, strategies have the hallmarks of success, but fail because organizations do not effectively execute them. In fact, Harvard Business Review says an estimated 67% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution.
The strategic plan itself as a written document that details the steps and processes needed to reach plan goals and includes feedback and progress reports to ensure that the plan is on track. Arguably, this is the easier part of the process.
Strategy Implementation refers to the execution of the plans and strategies, so as to accomplish the long-term goals of the organization. It converts the opted strategy into the moves and actions of the organisation to achieve the objectives.
Many organizations fail at execution because it requires intense discipline to maintain focus and follow through when challenges persist. Research by David P. Norton confirms the importance of this. 77% of companies that successfully execute their strategy effectively translate it strategy into operational mechanisms and monitor day-to-day progress.
Organizations can establish a dynamic implementation approach by adopting the Four Disciplines of Execution, as defined by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling. This tried and-tested framework for ensuring that the most important work gets done, is a mainstay for motivated executives.
Discipline One: Focus on your Wildly Important Goal.
Your Wildly Important Goal (WIG) is your most critical or one two goals. Most ambitious leaders find it difficult to concentrate on only one goal, but this intensity is essential to overcoming the distractions and demands of daily business. The upside of choosing a single focus is that it often sharpens strategy.
Research shows that 63% of successful companies have all their business units aligned to their overall corporate strategy.
Discipline Two: Act on the Lead Measures
There are two types of measures that drive results. A leading indicator looks forward at future outcomes and events. A lagging indicator looks back at whether the intended result was achieved.
Lead measures describe activities or sub-goals which can be acted upon. A good lead measure predicts success on the lag measure, and the team has direct influence over it — it’s not dependent on another team.
Lag measures describe results — what you are trying to achieve in terms of areas such as revenue, profit, market share. the obvious downside of backward-looking indicators is they may provide insights too late to do anything about it. By the time you find out that half your customers have defected to the competition, it’s already too late to stop them.
The drive behind assessing execution through indicators is to really understand performance and find ways to improve it in future. To do this properly, you need both types of indicators.
Discipline Three: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
This principle borrows from sport and is rooted in creating accountability. People perform more deliberately when they are keeping score. Without knowing the score, teams can be side-tracked with other distractions. A visible scoreboard helps the team to work out how to move forward.
You should have a team’s scoreboard and a manager’s scoreboard since deliverables for each are different. The team’s scoreboard should be visible, show both lead and lag measures (actions and results), and show at-a-glance if the team is winning.
Discipline Four: Create a Cadence of Accountability
The first three disciplines lay the groundwork for this phase, which is execution. Each team responsible for a WIG meets for a high stakes meeting of accountability, with an agenda intended to hold team members personally accountable, solve challenges, and commit to actions for the next week.
There are two non-negotiables for a WIG session to be successful. First, the session is held at the same time every time, at least weekly and second, the other business issues are not discussed.
The main differences between Strategy Formulation and Strategy Implementation
Strategy Formulation involves planning and decision-making in regard to developing strategic goals and plans, whereas Implementation activates all the means related to executing the roadmap.
By its nature, strategy formulation should be a more entrepreneurial activity based on strategic decision-making, while implementation should be driven mainly by administrative tasks centred around strategic and operational decisions.
Execution is an enduring challenge, and we tend to blame the people but Edwards Demming, Father of the quality movement says “Anytime the majority of the people behave a certain way the majority of time, the problem is not the people. It is the system, and the leader needs to own that.”
If you require our support with your strategu, operational and leadership initiatives, contact us to chat about how we can assist.
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