How to Boost Strategy Execution

How to Boost Strategy Execution
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The Challenge of Strategy Execution
From our three decades of experience which has been borne out by a recent IBM survey, we know that less than 10% of corporate strategies are being successfully implemented. The bottom line is that a good strategy doesn’t count for much if it remains on the drawing board and never is consistently executed across the organization. Leaders need to learn how to boost strategy execution.

The question is why do so many well thought-out corporate strategies from strategy retreat facilitation sessions fail in the interval between launch and successful execution?

One Simple Answer
The simplest answer is that key stakeholders, those you count on to execute the strategy, are not fully committed or engaged. On average, unengaged employees simply do not have a clear understanding of their role in realizing the strategy, do not buy into the strategic vision, and do not see what’s in it for them.

Why should they change their behaviors, risk their reputations, learn something new, or work harder when they do not fully buy in to the direction or plan? In fact, unless you involve employee stakeholders from the beginning, our research found that the success rate of your strategy can drop by as much as 50%.

If you want to boost strategy execution, you must proactively bring key stakeholders into the mix early and often to keep them fully engaged and strategically aligned. That includes drawing a clear line of sight between employees and their contribution to the overall effort and to the behaviors that will promote individual, team, and organizational success.

Three Ways to Boost Strategy Execution through Employee Commitment

  1. Show How Employees Matter
    Strategies must go through your people to be successfully executed. Why not empower your employees to design how the strategy will be implemented while making it clear how much they matter to the strategy’s success?

    Whenever possible, co-define exactly what is needed to move the strategy forward in a way that makes sense.  Then agree upon how everyone will be held equally accountable.   
  2. Combine Internal and External Motivations
    Pride in one’s accomplishments is a great intrinsic motivator. But don’t neglect the power of extrinsic motivators like positive feedback, recognition, and rewards. Praise and thank employees who are on track with their contributions and behaviors while you take corrective action against those who are falling behind.
  3. Communicate Clearly and Often
    The more you involve people in strategy creation on the front-end, the less overall change management and strategy communication you need on the back-end.

    With that said, consistent, clear, transparent, relevant, and timely communication is at the heart of successful strategy execution efforts. 

    Sadly, research by Michael Coveney found that only 5% of the workforce clearly understands their company’s strategy.

    To communicate strategy effectively, use whatever means available (meetings, one-on-ones, emails, social media) to keep the strategic priorities and progress front and center. This is the way to keep employees focused on the prize and to keep moving forward.

The Bottom Line
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.  Don’t become one of the majority whose strategy fails to move the needle. Involve your employees early in the plan and keep them motivated and fully informed as you make progress toward your goal.  

To learn more about how to boost strategy execution, download The 3 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating and Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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