Strategic Clarity through a Financial Lens

A lighthouse shines toward an illuminated Dollar sign against the sky

Lack of clarity around a company’s strategy can cause debilitating stress throughout the organization. But the worry is felt particularly at the leadership level. The company executives are the ones who create the strategy and are ultimately responsible for its successful execution. When the strategy is vague, not agreed to, not perceived to be equal to the challenge, or not supported by adequate resources, it will fail.

You should be on the lookout for the following warning signs that your strategy is in danger of failing:

1. Employees regularly ask for more information before they feel ready to act
2. Stakeholders continue to ask questions around priorities, funding, resources or timing
3. Employees are not convinced that the strategic plan is achievable
4. The plan is being implemented only in some parts of the organization
5. There is not sufficient commitment to the plan to drive execution

Those who pay particular attention to the financial end of running a business are specially qualified to help clarify strategy and see to its successful implementation. Why? Because they have the data to analyze and predict changes in the economy, ensure that adequate resources are available and manage financial risk.

Once the strategy has been clearly defined, clearly communicated throughout the organization, accepted as necessary for growth, understood and committed to, and outlined in terms of roles and responsibilities, financial officers can support the effort by helping to:

• Interpret the strategy into financial success metrics that hold individuals accountable. There will be financial implications of a major initiative. Budgets need to accommodate and drive the plan, managers need to know their role in achieving specific number goals, and measures need to be in place to track progress.

• Create reports that show progress and indicate when adjustments need to be made. These financial reports will be critical in guiding the process to see that all indicators are moving in the right direction and that everyone is performing as needed. If not, it is time to analyze any problems and make necessary changes so you can keep the initiative on track.

An effective finance function should be able to set aside sufficient resources and protect funds to implement the strategy. They are uniquely positioned within the organization to provide the means to succeed. Their support and ongoing vigilance are critical to success. So make sure your financial officers are behind the plan 100%.

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