I work with organizations continuously to help them formulate and execute upon their business strategy. Both of these activities are critically important, with the former informing the later, however I am always surprised at the number of organizations who place more energy on communication and engagement during strategy formulation than they do strategy execution.
If you are embarking on formulating a strategy and you want to ensure execution is successful, there are three things you should focus on before you begin to formulate your strategy.
1. Engaging the right stakeholders at the outset, not once the strategy is developed.
This means that identifying your driving force and determining your future vision includes input from senior, mid and even front line leadership. Now I am not suggesting everyone sit in the room during the session, but the individual who is facilitating the strategy session is not worth their weight if they aren’t gaining perspective from all levels of management prior to the session.
2. Obtaining input to action plans, rather than just passing them down.
I worked with an association once that had a habit of handing the new strategy off to the CEO to develop the action plan. He in turn worked with the CAO to formulate the action plan, never once consulting other managers or employees. How well do you think buy-in to the action plan went? Not very well as you can imagine. With the strategy developed, it is critical to engage those who will be executing the vision on actually formulating the actions to deliver on the strategy. Not only will your chances be greater for success, but also you create engagement and ownership at the same time.
3. Holding frequent checkpoints to ensure the strategy is on track.
If you have ever driven a racecar in an arcade, you undoubtedly passed a checkpoint. Doing so in a timely manner ensures you can continue the race without investing further money. Delivering a strategy is like an endurance race; there will be challenges encountered, many of which are unknown. Checking in during the execution frequently ensures that progress is being made, and unforeseen challenges can be discussed and resolved in a timely manner. In strategy, it is critical you reach the finish line.
So before you engage in developing a strategy, be sure to engage the right stakeholders in both the formulation and execution. Most importantly keep your hands on the wheel to make sure you end up where you plan.
© Shawn Casemore 2013. All rights reserved.