Are You Ready to Move from Strategy to Action?

Are You Ready to Move from Strategy to Action?
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Ready to Move from Strategy to Action?
After a successful strategy retreat, smart leaders ensure that everyone is ready to fully accept and act upon the key strategic priorities in a way that makes sense to the people and the business.  That means meeting people where they are and navigating people’s willingness and motivation levels to think, behave, and act differently.  To move from strategy to action, leaders and their teams must have the confidence and competence to implement the plan.

We call that leadership team alignment. Are your leaders and their direct reports truly ready for the challenge ahead?

What We Know about Strategy Execution Readiness
Our own exhaustive organizational alignment research and decades of experience revealed that CEOs’ perception of the readiness for action of their leaders is faulty.  On average, CEOs believe that their corporate strategies are twice as clear as their direct reports perceive them to be. This lack of strategic clarity is a major reason why IBM found that fewer than one-in-ten well-crafted strategies are successfully implemented.

Unless you have high levels of strategic clarity where the majority of key stakeholders and influencers understand, believe in, and are committed to implementing the strategy you propose, you should NOT try to move from strategy to action.  While you may initially feel like you are making progress by “moving quickly,” our research found that the feeling of progress will be short-lived.  Frustrated, misaligned, and complacent people do not have the desire or bandwidth to drive meaningful change and lasting with their teams.

How to Assess Employee Readiness to Move from Strategy to Action
Even in open and honest cultures, employees during our organizational culture assessments report that they are wary of sharing their honest feelings and concerns when strategies shift.  Leaders need to determine where people in their organization rank on a scale that measures employees’ readiness to consistently act in alignment with their desired strategy.

Here are some high level questions to ask to see if you are ready to move from strategy design to strategy implementation:

  • Does Everyone Agree on the External Market Realities?
    Before change leaders can begin to persuade others for the need to shift strategies, behaviors, and practices, you must make sure that those most affected by change genuinely agree with the market and competitive realities that the organization faces.

    Before you ask people to identify and agree with your strategic priorities, invest the time to explicitly ground everyone involved in an objective assessment of external market realities and pressures.

    These honest and objective market realities set the context for constructive debate and set the stage to help all employees fully understand their role in getting from where you are to where you want to be.  If some people fear that future business success is at imminent risk while others think that the status quo is fine, you will never collectively execute your strategy.

    How many of your key stakeholder agree upon the business challenges that you face?
  • Does Everyone Agree on the Internal Organizational Realities?
    It is hard to get where you want to go if everyone does not agree on where you currently stand.  Unfortunately, most leaders have an inaccurate view of how work gets done.  Before you can design and implement an effective plan for change, you must do a thorough current state analysis to ensure a realistic view of your internal capabilities and workplace culture.

    Your strategy must go through your people and culture to be successfully implemented.  Combined with external market realities, your internal organizational realities form organizational change context to build strategies that are equal to the challenge of your business objectives.

    How honest is your assessment of the current state?
  • Does Everyone Feel Inspired Enough by a Shared Vision of the Desired Future State?
    Change management consultants know that successful change needs a clear and compelling shared vision of the desired state that all key stakeholders want to call their own.  A shared vision of the desired future state answers questions regarding the urgency for change, the business case for change, and why the desired changes are meaningfully better than the way things are now.

    How clear and compelling is your future vision to those who matter most?
  • Does Everyone Buy Into the Plan For Success?
    There are many different approaches to get from where you are to where you want to go.  At a minimum, people must understand their how their specific role contributes to individual and organizational success

    To succeed, leaders must be aligned on strategic priorities, the organizational culture must be aligned with where you are headed, and frontline managers must own, model and reward the new ways of working.

    How clear, compelling, and reinforced is your plan for success?

The Bottom Line
Before you launch a strategic initiative, assess the strategic readiness across the entire organization. Sometimes to successfully move from strategy to action you must “go slow to go fast.”

To learn more about how to move from strategy to action, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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