Better Strategy Execution: Know Where You are Going and How

business people are heading in all different directions...upside down, right side up and sideways

Is there confusion in the ranks? If there is beware.  Ambiguity breeds mediocrity.

Does everyone know (and are they confident about) where the company is headed and how it will get there? If not, you have a big, big problem.

Without a clear strategic direction and a clear path to get there that is understood and accepted by your entire work force, you risk “organizational churn.”  We define organizational churn as harmful or ineffective goals, roles, processes, metrics, behaviors, assumptions, values, conflicts, and reward systems.  When churn gets too high, it can create total derailment for a team or company.

You are not alone. According to research by IBM, only one out of ten organizations manages to successfully implement their strategies on a consistent basis. Why do so many fail at strategy execution? At the core, it is simple…a lack of strategic clarity.

In our own organizational alignment research, we found that strategic clarity accounts for up to 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies.  In lower performing organizations, far too many employees lack the level of strategic and leadership faith required to successfully implement the organization’s plans.  Without clarity, people work at cross purposes, operate in silos, and lack the true focus required to be decisive when it matters most.

So what should you do if you fear there is not enough strategic clarity?
 

First and foremost, the entire leadership team needs to be 100% aligned regarding:

 
1.       Where you are headed.  This includes being on the same page about your organizational vision, mission, differentiation, target clients, optimizing strategies and key success metrics.
2.       How you will get there.  This includes being on the same page about your organizational values, roles, processes, practices, beliefs, culture, performance management and exposure mechanisms, rewards, recognitions and consequences.
3.       How you will measure progress, adjust and communicate along the way.

Additionally, leadership and the rest of the organization must fundamentally believe that the quality of your strategy and plan is equal to the challenge of your business objectives and that you have the right quality people to effectively execute your strategy/plan.  When it comes to strategy execution, conviction is critical.

Conviction and belief is important because any goal worth achieving is not easy to accomplish.  Your team must have the right collective mindset to effectively balance some common strategic tensions when times get tough such as:

 
·         Seeing the bigger picture AND executing at a tactical level

·         Being decisive AND adaptable

·         Being optimistic AND realistic

·         Focusing on your customers AND your employees

·         Performing in the short-term AND creating long-term, sustainable health

Remember, an unclear business strategy hinders both short- and long-term high performance.  When faced with organizational churn, finger pointing and silos, too many leaders look to reorganize because the organizational structure changes are visible, quick and concrete.  Our alignment research shows that this is a mistake.

Far more important to successful strategic execution is to ensure that your business strategy and plan is clear, compelling and understood.

Download Strategic Clarity Whitepaper

Download 3x Organizational Alignment Research

 

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