Attributes of an Effective Corporate Strategy

Attributes of an Effective Corporate Strategy
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What Are the Attributes of an Effective Corporate Strategy?
Is your company’s strategy clear enough, believable enough, and implementable enough to be successfully implemented across your organization?

If you are the CEO or a member of the executive leadership team, our research tells us that your answer is probably “yes.”  Unfortunately, our organizational alignment research also found that level 2 leaders (those that report to the C-Suite) find the strategy as 50% less clear, 50% less believable, and 50% less implementable as their boss.  How can you expect employees to execute and commit to a plan they don’t fully understand?

That would help to explain IBM’s survey that found less than 1 out of 10 strategies are effectively executed. What can your organization do to be in that rarefied top 10 percent of companies with an effective plan for the business that gets consistently executed across the company?

It All Starts with Strategic Clarity
If you want your strategy to be successfully implemented, it all starts with your executive leadership team getting aligned.  It is no secret that employees want leaders to:

  • Align and lead them down a clear, compelling, believable, and consistent strategic path. 
  • Paint an exciting vision of what the company hopes to become.
  • Stand behind a persuasive company mission outlining the organization’s fundamental purpose, and targeted initiatives that provide a strategic rudder to make difficult decisions and allocate valuable resources.
  • Commit to the strategy through their words, actions, organizational structures, and systems to make it as easy as possible for employees to successfully navigate the journey.

Strategic clarity and alignment occur when every senior leader and function act in harmony with each other to achieve a common set of objectives. Effective organizational accord requires leaders to take a systemic view of their business and purposefully leverage the interdependencies between the various strategies, structures, systems, processes, and people to create organizational integrity and alignment.  It also requires an agreed-upon process to monitor and adjust to the rapidly changing landscape.

Attributes of an Effective Corporate Strategy

  • Active Employee Involvement
    No longer should the strategy be designed by executives on their own. Strategies must go through people to be successfully executed.  The ideal way to ensure that a strategy is successfully implemented is to actively involve employees from the beginning in a way that makes sense.

    If employees and stakeholders are invited to help craft the parts of the strategy that affect them the most, they will have a greater feeling of ownership and commitment.  Executives need to recognize, appreciate, and tap into the knowledge, skills, and perspectives of those in the mid-level ranks and their teams. The outdated traditional view many senior executives had of “us” and “them” is no longer a sustainable approach long-term in this era of rapid change and heightened competition.
  • Transparent and Timely Communications
    While strategy execution will look and feel different to different stakeholders depending upon the role they play, the strategic communications should be focused, relevant, timely, simple, consistent, audience-centric, two-way, and clear.   You should leave no doubt that all employees are responsible for aligning with and executing against the strategy.

    Active employee commitment and input is essential to keeping the company agile enough to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. The strategic conversation should be ongoing and include employees throughout the organization.
  • Employee Autonomy for the “How”
    While we believe that the C-Suite should set the overall strategic direction, we also believe that employees should have a high degree of autonomy in making decisions about how the strategies can be best implemented (while staying aligned) within their teams. Providing more autonomy also means  providing more support to ensure people have the business acumen, risk tolerance, decision-making skills, bandwidth, and support to think and act strategically. 

The Bottom Line
Effective corporate strategy depends upon effective strategy execution. Are you actively involving your employees all along the way? Solicit their input as you design the strategy and include them in the ongoing decision making.

To see if your corporate strategy is set up to win, download How to Know If Your Strategy is Clear Clear Enough to Act?

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