img

I think we’re alone now

‘I think we’re alone now’ was the title of the song by Tiffany that reached number 1 in many countries back in 1987. It was originally written for, and released by, Tommy James and the Shondells in 1967. But enough of the culture lesson; we want to talk about being left alone once the strategy consultants have handed over the strategy document and have exited the building.

After months of work the consulting firm has identified insights about the market, your competitors and your organization, all of which provided clarity about how to move your organization forward. They also identified some key things your organization needs to do differently to successfully implement this new strategy. The Board has approved the plan and now it’s over to you to execute.

It is a sobering statistic that on average, 70% of new, large-scale strategic initiatives fall short of their goal. In most organizations, strategy implementation begins with the top executive convening their direct reports to ensure they are aligned with, and supportive of, the new plan and all of its elements. The process continues to cascade down through the organization letting everyone know about the plan and securing their buy-in. Strategic initiatives are identified, and key leaders are assigned to ensure that these are delivered.

As the strategic initiatives go from planning to implementation and begin to involve more and more people (who need to start doing things differently because of the new strategy), the system starts to get bogged down. The organization feels overwhelmed, projects stall, and the strategy implementation is delayed. Worse, it may halt altogether.

The key of course is to bridge the divide between senior leaders who create the strategy and the operating leaders and teams who execute it. So how might we do this?

First, leaders at the top need to paint a clear picture of what the organization needs to achieve and to tell the story about the vision that they want to create. Once it’s clear what the organization can potentially accomplish in its markets and industry, employees start to understand how the pieces of the strategy make sense. By connecting day-to-day work on strategic initiatives to the organization’s window of opportunity to accomplish the vision, leaders start to ensure focus for the scarce resources at their disposal.
All employees impacted by a new strategic initiative need to understand and buy into it to accelerate its execution. It is critical that leaders create the organization’s picture of its opportunity and communicate it to employees at every level to increase their understanding, urgency, and commitment around the new strategy.

Second, is the need to secure alignment across teams and functions to ensure that everyone is moving in the right direction and collaborating to ensure the overall success of the strategic plan. In this way, the senior leadership that sets the strategy, and the operational groups that execute it, work in harmony to remove the obstacles that often hinder successful strategy implementation.

Finally the Board needs to provide the appropriate level of governance and oversight to ensure that the CEO and executive are held accountable for the successful implementation of the strategic plan.

Today, organizations of all kinds are reevaluating their strategies as they face unprecedented levels of change in their industries and the wider world. While the strategic planning process often reveals large opportunities and threats, organizations only benefit if they can capitalize on the good and avoid the bad with speed and innovative thinking. Implementation is where the rubber meets the road; however, it’s also typically where organizations falter.

Once the strategy consultants have left, it is critical that that you are truly able to take that thinking and turn it into reality. You cannot leave it to chance. There needs to be structure to ensure success. We think you’re alone now – the buck stops here……..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *