Strategic Clarity through a Financial Lens
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. 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 most likely fail.
Five Strategic Clarity Warning Signs
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 act
2. Stakeholders continue to ask questions around priorities, funding, resources or timing
3. Employees are not fully 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 across the executive team to the plan to drive execution
Strategic Clarity through a Financial Lens
Those who pay particular attention to the financial end of running a business are uniquely qualified to help clarify strategy and see to its successful implementation. Why? Because they have the data to analyze and predict changes in the marketplace, ensure that adequate investments are made, and manage important financial risks.
How Finance Can Support the Strategy
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:
1. Translate the Strategy into Financial Success Metrics that Create Accountability
Strategic priorities and plans almost always have financial implications. Budgets need to accommodate initiatives, managers need to know their role in achieving specific targets, and metrics need to be in place to monitor and track progress.
2. Create Timely and Accurate Reports that Show Progress
The timely flow of information is critical to let people know where they stand and to indicate when adjustments need to be made. Relevant financial reports are critical to understanding if plans are moving in the right direction and that everyone is performing according to plan. If not, it is time to analyze any problems and make necessary changes so you can keep the initiative on track.
The Bottom Line
An effective finance function should be able to set aside sufficient resources and protect funds to implement key strategic priorities. 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%.
If you liked Strategic Clarity through a Financial Lens, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy to learn more about successful strategy execution.
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