Bringing strategy to life

Ninety percent of strategies do not get executed, according to authors Kaplan and Norton in their book, The Balanced Scorecard. On the face of it, this implies a tremendous waste of resources.  Is there a secret art to developing and implementing strategies that’s hidden in a magical vault with a secret key? 

If it’s true that the efforts that contribute to developing business strategy often outweigh both its implementation and its results, then what can be done differently?  

Kaplan and Norton are not alone in promoting the importance of key factors that will help. They cite ongoing communication to engage employees, allocating resources to align with strategy, setting business-wide accountability and putting in place indicators to measure success, in their advice. They are each points that are geared towards attaching the planning process to one of implementation with a firm eye on results.

When deadlines for a plan are looming, the temptation can be to open Word, Excel or PowerPoint and start typing, or to update last year’s documents to get the job done.  Here are a few thoughts before you start:

Engage! 

Bringing others into the room to collaborate on future direction will deliver valuable wide and deep thinking and the output will be all the better for it.  It creates a common language from the get-go and can energise the planning process making it fun. 

Keep engaging…

Engage as plans turn into active projects with owners, budgets and targets.  I always suggest to my clients that as leaders, there can never be too much communication and information about plans and their progress.  You should feel as though you are repeating yourself - for it to mean it’s starting to be heard over and above all the other ‘noise’ that will be vying for people’s attention.   

Engage with everyone…

The future is a place we all like to visit because we can help to create it.  Build a picture of where the business is going and why for every employee through ongoing communication even when time is short, and the workloads are heightening. 

There will be a message in there for everyone too.  Communication that’s limited to a few creates a vacuum for others that will only be filled by interpretation, generate mistrust and demotivate.  Keep the language open.  Sales, marketing, HR IT, finance, administration and front of line service teams, far and wide– everyone needs to know. 

Engage all communication styles

As much as there’s always a message for everyone, each of us will be inspired to act by communication that is tailored to our own preferences.  Being aware of those differences which can make communication more effective and knowing how to flex to the styles of other people really helps to encourage motivation. 

Planning strategy should be an energising time for a business and one that celebrates the achievements along the way.  Remember, employees are the most valuable ambassadors for any business.  Incorporating their unique viewpoints from within the organisation that can uncover new ideas that can shape a very different future.

  

Emma facilitates groups and teams in all sorts of contexts, including those who want to create, develop or sense-check plans in a workshop environment. She uses a range of tools and techniques with her clients that galvanise thinking and result in output that can be put straight into practice.  Her experience in behavioural models sees Emma coach business leaders on how to flex their own style to engage teams across a range of subjects. 

Emma Mauger