This week, I reconnected with a senior leadership team I had worked with 8 months ago to help them create their strategy-on-a-page.
While the goal for our follow-up session was not to revisit their strategy, but instead to build leadership and communication skills within the group, we inevitably found ourselves discussing the success of their plan.
When I asked how it was going, there was an initial long pause. One chap then declared “it’s dead in the water!”
After much discussion (around whether or not it really was dead in the water), we sought to take the lessons and insights from their experience, rather than pointing any fingers of blame.
Interestingly, in assessing the detail, they were surprised that they had actually realised about 50% of what was on the original plan. Was that perhaps luck? Chance? Or did it actually permeate their minds and organise their behaviours without conscious effort?
What they lacked was not a good plan, but the discipline and process around strategy execution.
They came to a place of reckoning that their plan was:
- Too ambitious – they’d bitten off more than they could chew
- Not talked about (at all) in executive team meetings
- Not talked about (very little) in 1:1s with teams
- Not consistently documented in individual performance plans (some had KPIs linked to the plan, many didn’t)
Therefore, the plan is not actually being lived or breathed in the organisation, and could potentially be damaging their reputation as executives and leaders of the business.
Whatever the outcome, the plan was deemed to have a pulse and, if well managed, would help them realise latent potential in their business.
They agreed their remedy to strategy execution success was threefold:
- Get much sharper with their goals – less is more
- Create simple dashboards that inform progress against key KPIs
- Talk about it systematically – in teams, in 1:1’s, in executive monthly meetings, in their own heads.
When it comes to strategy execution, apply the 80/20 rule. That is, if 20% of time goes into strategy creation, 80% of time goes into strategy execution. A well-defined and succinct strategic plan-on-a-page, without a process to translate that plan into action, is just a good read.
Thinking that your job is done after releasing your strategic plan is like giving up after 2km of a 42km marathon…you haven’t even started yet.
Jeroen De Flander, author of Strategy Execution Heroes talks about Strategy Tourists.
These are people who:
- Love big words to make themselves sound more important
- Are more interested in looking good, than being good
- Delegate all the strategy execution work to consultants
- Restart a new strategy process every year
- Are somewhat lazy
Jeroen says not to be a strategy tourist. Be a strategy hero. Put as much effort into your strategy execution process as you do into your strategy creation process, and you will realise 100% of the results you anticipate in your plan.
If you want to implement a strategy planning and execution process to gain alignment, clarity and 100% action in your business, let’s have a chat.
Jeroen De Flander, Strategy Execution Heroes, Business strategy implementation and strategic management demystified. Self Published. 2010.