It is not difficult to recall organizations with solid, equally good operational plans and disappointing results.
In some instances, the strategy and plans were so compelling they helped each entity to secure millions of dollars in funding.
So, what went wrong?
There were skilled project and operations managers working in their operational areas, there were other functional leads that were committed and worked hard.
But there was no department or individual with the responsibility for managing the execution of the organization’s strategy. Project leads focused on their projects, things changed in the environment and some adjustments were made but pretty much on a putting out the fire basis or grab that opportunity without a proper assessment of resource cost or how it would or would not move the organization closer to its desired change.
Of course, there were performance reporting meetings but the connection to the desired change for the organization was forgotten. The strategy was forgotten, the change was forgotten, how the strategy would deliver change was forgotten.
How did this happen when the project managers did what they ought to do? They managed their individual projects and issues arising. The fact is, it is not possible to do all of that while managing the results at the organizational level.
Small, medium and large entities struggle with strategy execution—more than 60% of them fail to execute 80% of their strategy.
The results are hardly a surprise given, 75% of senior management are caught up with working on execution issues.
What the figures and results point to is the need for an individual or team that managers and leaders can count on to help them keep the focus on strategy. By keeping the focus, we mean monitoring progress on executing it, scanning the environment internally and externally and sounding the alarm when there is a need to adjust strategy on an ongoing basis. Last but not least the individual or team responsible for managing strategy execution must also guide and/ or facilitate the process of strategy re-evaluation and reformulation.
The aforementioned processes must be backed by information and responses that includes the need of the people executing the strategy, gather learning from them as well as track and capture patterns for informing strategy update. An important function of the role is providing messaging and communication for ensuring understanding of strategy. In addition, the lead must facilitate processes for ensuring each individual see their personal interest met along with that of the organization when strategy is executed effectively. He or she must deliver messaging and assessment of results for actions that are intended to promote the desired values and ethical stance of the organization.
The degree to which desired culture is the norm for internal and external customers will have a tremendous impact on whether or not execution shows up or delivers the strategy.
In recent times some organizations have come to believe a reliance on more monitoring and evaluation will do the trick. It is most certainly going to improve the results but if your M & E team or lead is not competent in strategy development and the management of strategy execution then you will find that good strategy stays in the plan document. You will also be wiser regarding what worked and what didn’t, you will get more planned outputs delivered but the next report card will be similar if for a different area of outcome.
Someone has to keep the organization reminded about its purpose, the competitive edge it seeks and facilitate the meeting of minds and assessment of actions for making the adjustments to strategy in order to achieve those results.
A good strategy could become a wonderful souvenir and missed opportunity. When execution fails to put strategy to work, you will feel as if someone ate your breakfast and lunch and it is 5:00 pm. Excellent execution of a bad strategy will lead to certain disaster. And poor execution of a great strategy could be just as bad.
We are equipped to help organizations and their teams to manage strategy execution for ensuring the desired results are achieved in the context of the organization. We know that individual and collective behaviours, desires and aspirations must be provided for if culture is to support effective strategy execution. Translating and communicating the strategy for winning commitment that drives action is key. We did not touch mobilizing resources for financing strategy among other factors that are crucial to success in strategy execution.
Many companies who claim they cannot afford help with the management of strategy execution have never sought to inquirer about the cost of such a solution. In fact, they are likely busy blaming human resource or other factors for their results. Moreover, they may have not assessed the cost, loss, risk and threat of not investing in such a solution. We need not remind you that strategy has to be updated, adjusted or changed at a rapid pace in today’s world.
Invest in strategy execution management support for ensuring strategy delivers the results you desire.
Whether you lead a large or small company we invite you to click the act now button to schedule a cost-free session on how we could help with corporate strategy (No, we are not referring to just strategic planning, before planning your team must engage in a solid strategic thinking exercise). Your strategy expert will even complete a process referred as LEAD if applying the as the very first step in the process.
If you have a solid corporate strategy plan we can help you with performance management—our focus is beyond outputs and behaviours for getting results at the individual level. Sure, we do consider and offer related guidance, but we are focused on achieving results at the organizational, community, national and regional levels.
If you do not have a plan or your plan or strategy is in need of a review or objective eye we can help. It could also be that you are on top of performance management but need help with an environmental scan or market research for updating your strategy.
I am confident that you will kick yourself really hard for not looking at the possibilities before. But don’t stay kicking too long, let us roll up sleeves and put hands and hearts to the task of improving your results.
Meegan Scott, lead strategy consultant at Magate Wildhorse Ltd.
Copyright © 2018 Meegan Scott
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