How to Translate Goals into Actions

How to Translate Goals into Actions
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New Initiatives and Strategies Can Be Exhilarating
When we facilitate strategy retreats, energy is typically high, executives are focused, and the possibilities are exciting. Yet, moving from the boardroom to the reality of strategy execution is tricky. The challenge is how to translate goals into actions.

Once a leadership team gets aligned on a clear strategic direction, the real challenge is deciding on and collectively implementing meaningful and visible next steps. Without execution, strategies lack impact. IBM found, sadly, that less than one in ten of even well-formulated strategies are successfully executed.

Strategy Implementation Is Where the Rubber Meets the Road

  1. Know Why and Where You Are Heading
    You first need to be crystal clear on what you are trying to accomplish and why. Throughout the strategy design process, both stakeholders and those in charge of step-by-step implementation need to continually focus on and align with what matters most.

    Major strategic initiatives typically have many moving and interrelated parts with many players in the field. Unless all stakeholders are clear not just where they are headed but why, the chances of consistently implementing the strategy across the organization is slim.
  2. Keep an Open Mind
    A bit of skepticism can keep you from going astray and falling into the strategy trap of confirmation bias, the human tendency to read new evidence as proof that your strategy will be successful. Try to focus on what you learn as you execute the plan.

    Are there some red flags that you should investigate further? What will the impact be of ignoring the red flag warnings? Are there adjustments to be made?  Have you considered using a red team to increase strategic buy in?
  3. Align Your Culture with Your Strategy
    Your strategy must go through your culture and your people to be successfully implemented.  If your implementation plan is at war with how work truly gets done – your workplace culture – your strategy is doomed to failure. Simply focusing on a goal that depends on effective collaboration will not bring success if your culture does not support effective teamwork.

    Be realistic about your organization’s capability and culture. If the way things get done related to your customers, employees, decision-making, market approach, processes, risk, or other cultural factors are misaligned with your strategy, your chances for success are slim.  Once your strategic direction is clear, take the steps required to align your culture with your strategy before you move into action.

The Bottom Line
Strategy is nothing without strategy execution.  Are you doing all you can to successfully translate strategic goals into meaningful actions? Achieving strategic goals requires clarity, alignment, capability, accountability, and a mindset shift.

To learn more about how to translate goals into actions, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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