Strategy implementation is key to your firm’s success. In your mind you know this, but are you like so many other professionals? Have you developed a strategy and never really completed strategy implementation?
49% of firms I surveyed didn’t have a strategy, 49% had a strategy they hadn’t implemented and only 2% had powerful strategy that really helped their growth
Many firms drift: They have ideas of what they want to achieve and from time to time get differing levels of enthusiasm about doing things to get there. Having great ideas won’t help. Having great ideas and doing them sporadically may help, but it won’t help get what you want for your firm.
What’s in a good strategy?
A clearly set out goal(s) and emotional reasons for achieving them, together with commitments to put in place to get there. Read why-goals-strategies-visions-and-missions-drive-me-mad and business-success-and-long-term-planning
Long term planning, or “starting with the end in mind” is important to avoid only ever incrementally adapting (read about how a very young IBM approached business-success-and-long-term-planning). The trouble is if your view is that far on the future, it’s easy not to get things done!
What stops strategy implementation?
Normally the plan is overly long and gets forgotten. No measures are ever taken to measure progress (did you read KPIs are not just about finance). The result, no strategy implementation, nothing really changes, the firm continues to stagnate and you hit the strategy implementation graveyard.
A focused approach towards strategy implementation
- Create a quarterly focus: Good plans have many exciting elements, so many that they can easily overwhelm. Step one of strategy implementation is to create a smaller focus that will last for only three months. One quarter cuts down the huge list of things on the plan, makes it manageable and allows you to focus your team on delivering it. Neither is it so long that it becomes part of the furniture, you’ll create a new quarterly focus in three months time.
- What key things need to be different at the end of the quarter, clearly stated and ideally broken down by month.
- What KPIs will help you track these objectives? This isn’t all about financials and can be far easier than many professionals think. Read KPIs are not all about finance.
- Goals to ensure objectives are hit (e.g. launch new Social Media campaign -did you read why social Media takes too long?)
- Deliverables for the goals to ensure they happen (Read measuring social ROI)
- What tasks are needed to get there? Once you have completed your quarterly focus, and written it down, think about each thing that needs to be delivered. Break them down into tasks, with assigned owners and deadlines. You may use project management software, or just a simple spreadsheet – but track how people are doing!
- Delivery: Remember to allocate enough time to manage others, as well as yourself. Completing the tasks and keeping on-top of deadlines is crucial to delivering. Yes, there is no substitute for getting on with it! A traffic jam will only stop delivery, so keep on top of it.
- Checkpoints: Once a week review what’s happened on all the “to-do” lists, update them with red/ green or amber. Ensure everybody can see what’s happening and what’s not. Also check the KPIs. You want to know NOW if you’re going off track and if something may stop you from hitting your quarterly goals. Have regular checkpoint meetings with all the relevant stakeholders (click here for tips on managing meetings), keep the meeting short and ensure that it’s a discussion on what’s worked/ not – rather than people just saying “yes I have” (you could do that by email).
- Create the next quarterly focus: That may sound unrelenting, but you want to achieve your objectives? When planning the next quarter, consider what you’ve learnt that you can apply and revisit your strategy document.
Key to strategy implementation is keeping it clearly in the minds of all those involved. Regular reviews and breaking it into chunks like this helps. Even just having it on one piece of paper that everybody keeps looking at will help!
One last one I’d add about the right focus on this problem. That’s about having an effective key performance indicator process in place. If you’d like to download our free report “What are KPIs, why and how should I use them”, it's free and waiting for you to download right now. Click here for instant access (email address required).
How do you ensure that you’re excellent at strategy implementation?