5 Steps to Close the Gap between Strategy Design and Implementation

5 Steps to Close the Gap between Strategy Design and Implementation
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Strategy Design is Only the Beginning — Mind the Gap between Strategy Design and Implementation

Designing a clear and compelling company strategy is only the first step.  To truly meet strategic targets, your plans must be understood, committed to, and implemented by your employees.  Unfortunately, there is often a measurable gap between strategy design and implementation in too many organizations.

  • 90% of top executives surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit from 500 multi-national companies with yearly revenues of at least $1 Billion cited poor strategy implementation as the number one reason for missing their targets.
  • Our own organizational alignment research found that strategic understanding, buy-in, and commitment decrease 50% outside of the executive leadership team.

Closing the Gap between Strategy Design and Implementation
What about the ~10% of leaders who manage to effectively execute their strategies?  Further study shows that there are some common practices that successful leaders follow after their strategy retreats to better close the gap between strategy design and implementation.

  1. Ensure Strategic Clarity — The “What”
    High performing leaders know that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the performance difference between high and low performing companies. They start by actively involving key stakeholders in creating a clear game plan that outlines compelling choices about where to play and what specific actions to take. Done right, a successful strategic plan sets a company up to perform beyond just the sum of its parts.

    Is your strategy clear enough?  Benchmark your strategic clarity here.

  2. Create Organizational Health — The “How Well”
    Once a clear and meaningful direction is set, high performing leaders ensure that the organization is healthy enough to execute the strategy. Organizational health and psychological safety are important because they serve as the foundation for engaging and retaining the top talent you need to implement your plans through solid leadership, well-earned trust, and aligned organizational capabilities.

    Is your culture healthy enough to ask for higher performance?  Benchmark your organizational health here.

  3. Build Cultural Alignment — The “How”
    Strategies must go through culture and people to get implemented. Workplace cultures must be purposefully aligned with the business strategy to set the stage for high performance.  If “how work gets done” does not fully align with the “work that needs to get done” to move the business forward, there will be problems.Just imagine an engineering-driven culture getting in the way of strategies to move into new customer-driven markets.  Or a sales-driven culture (e.g., Wells Fargo) sabotaging a strategy to increase customer loyalty.

    Is your culture aligned with your strategy?  Benchmark your cultural alignment here.

  4. Maintain a Continuous Process — The Ongoing
    Leaders that are successful in executing their strategy do not consider strategic planning and strategy implementation as separate steps. They actively involve all levels of the organization from beginning to end and empower teams to define goals, success metrics, roles, and actions that are aligned with the overall direction.

    Strategy implementation is a day-by-day effort and actively engaging employees in your strategy is different than communicating your strategy to employees.

  5. Have Consistent Monitoring – The Accountability
    Successful strategy implementation requires clarity, transparency, communication, and a culture of accountability.

    High performing leaders ensure that people know what is expected of them, consistently do what they say they will do, and create teams that can depend upon each other.  They also hold frequent meetings to track progress toward goals and share lessons learned.

The Bottom Line
You must be as committed to strategy execution as you are to strategy design.  Actively involve key stakeholders in both strategy design and strategy delivery if you want to be one of the leaders who consistently hit their targets.

To learn more about closing the gap between strategy design and implementation, download Do You Have the Right Culture to Drive Your Growth Strategy Forward?

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