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I’m so excited about today’s topic! I’m talking about strategy implementation – robust strategy implementation, that is! Together with my colleagues, we have collected experiences about good strategy implementations from many people. This is my crystallized presentation about it.
Six key factors need to be in order if and when a robust strategy implementation is desired.
Good strategy – weak implementation
Having gone through a strategy process, people are often delighted with their good results. But why is it that often the strategy won’t take off? The reason most likely is bad implementation. The strategy can be as good as ever, but it’s not enough! It is, of course, possible that the strategy indeed is weak. In any case, a good strategy needs a good implementation.
In many organizations, people think that they must know how implementation works. Having gone through hundreds of strategy processes, I can say that a good implementation is a skill! It can be done better or less good.
Let’s go through the elements of a robust implementation.
If even ONE of these six points is forgotten, IT WON’T WORK.
Let’s look at each point separately.
Most organizations are based on a hierarchical organization in the background. It has many good qualities. Nowadays, it’s wise to compensate for its weaknesses with agile teams. Frequent meetings are needed for the implementation: Management team meetings, sub-management team meetings, etc.
The meeting agenda must frequently include strategy implementation. This is how goals are easily followed up. When a plan has been completed, one proceeds to the next plan or tweaks the previous one. The idea of nothing being set in stone is fundamental. It creates agility!
Conclusions made during a management meeting need to be shared with the whole staff. Nowadays, written notes can be automatically reported. The idea of sharing the management’s plans is shocking in many cultures. However, it hides a great opportunity for a robust implementation. If any documentation is done, it needs to be opened up to everyone else and explained verbally. With Microsoft Teams, this can be done very efficiently.
The strategy should be looked at and updated quarterly. Of course, it doesn’t need to be renewed all the time, but when implementation proceeds, there comes a need to make changes to the plan. The market and the competition situations change all the time.
The idea of switching from a yearly plan to a quarterly plan is very powerful!
Strategic goals often need to be broken down into subgoals because strategic goals are such high-quality goals. Subgoals require people to be in charge of them and teams to implement them. This is when prioritizing is a must. A roadmap can be created to see what needs to be done in the first phase. An ambitious deadline by which the job is done is also needed. It gives people a little kick.
“What would the world be like without the last minute?”
The workload is a tough challenge. Key persons are always needed in every project while they already have their hands full. A leader that doesn’t fill the employees’ day with work is a bad leader! When new goals are created, what’s done to the old ones? Prioritizing and time liberation needs to occur so that the key persons’ workload won’t go out of hand. Balancing the workload is important, which is why the workload should be visualized to see how much work everyone has.
If this isn’t done, nothing is ready on time!
Excitement is needed! People need to be involved in the planning. At Stradigo, we talk much about the benefits of involving as many people as possible already in strategic planning. People are capable of understanding even though they are operative in nature! In fact, my motto is:
“Head in the clouds, but with really long legs!”
When people can see the process from above, the helicopter perspective, they suddenly begin to understand what’s going on! That’s when motivation increases.
When people are also involved in subgoal planning, it creates ownership and meaning! The energy that erupts is truly worth money!
Give people responsibility and also power to implement; all things don’t need to be taken upstairs. The decision is made there where the information is, close to the customer interface.
It’s also important to a leader to increase ambition, stretch goals and subgoals, and the schedule. If goals are too tough, people get demotivated. If goals are too loose, there will be no growth. It’s a delicate balance! A true talent. A leader with no ambition won’t have a successful organization. Increase ambition! Ambition is like fitness: one can always be in better shape.
Increase ambition and speed!
Build work piles for every goal and plan them in a week, or maximum in two weeks! Plans are created quickly, and this is where a third-party resource is often good to have. Plans will become alike, and an outsider is able to challenge them better. In result, one receives better plans and quickly!
Goals of course need to be prioritized. Agility means that work is done in weekly sprints. A clear pile of documents is a must. Tasks are picked from the pile, which are carried out during the next sprint. A sprint is never late because it’s a calendar time! After the sprint, a meeting is held, in which the tasks are followed up to see if they were executed and the next tasks are picked for the following sprint. If something wasn’t finished on time, it is put back in the pile to wait for tweaking in the next sprint.
This is agile leadership and goal planning!
In order for this whole process to succeed, leadership tools are required! One must be able to see the strategy implementation visually! It requires a good tool for leadership, a digital board. We at Stradigo prefer to use Trello for this, which is free for basic use. The premium version is, of course, good to have eventually. This as well is very affordable.
Use a good tool for leadership. The idea is that it’s transparent for everyone and that everyone is able to edit the plan, the digital board, simultaneously. I’ve heard of no one editing Excel simultaneously. In that sense, Excel is more of an individual’s tool. PowerPoint is also very slow, even though the outcome is fine. Editing a digital board is so much faster.
Here comes the magic! A fine-tuned tracking structure must be set on the digital board. The differences in quality can be big in this task!
At Stradigo, we have for five years used a digital board and enhanced the structure constantly. The idea of visualizing the tracking structure is an extremely great thing. If one does this for a profession, the cases will teach to use the tech. I myself have worked with over a thousand digital boards with our customers, and I always learn new tricks! “The devil is in the details!”
We visualize progress with traffic lights. We don’t make people attend courses; we learn these systems on the go. Take small steps! This is how this tool is taken into practice quickly in order for implementation.
This tool is the backbone of implementation!
The last point is to arrange financing for the implementation process. Very often if an outsider is bought to facilitate a strategy, the management’s first idea is to get rid of them as fast as possible. Involve the outsider in facilitation! Change requires investment. One gets more out of it more quickly! Payback time is very short when it comes from extra income and cost-efficiency.
Implementation, therefore, needs to be prioritized in the budget. In the beginning, people might not have even understood to budget, because the budget has been made beforehand. I think the CEO should take responsibility for the big picture, and to not go spreading the money into the units. Otherwise, it creates a huge amount of small decisions and it only slows the process down immensely. In the first year, the investment is taken from the entirety. It isn’t a big sum of money comparing to the benefits.
There were all the points!
Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).
Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.
We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.
Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.