strategy execution – making things happen
Whatever the label … ‘strategy execution’ … ‘transition management’ … ‘implementation’… ‘operationalising’… it is all about one thing – making it happen.
Many solutions over-rely on restructuring & high-level ‘road-shows’ to introduce & spearhead new policy. The executive is expected to translate this into day-to-day operations.
One of the biggest frustrations comes when commitments fail to get followed-through. Results do not appear as expected…deadlines drift…opportunities are lost…costs increase…the baton does not get passed effectively or efficiently…vested interests & ‘competing commitments’ get in the way.
This is where our real interests lie.
Our approach to ‘strategy execution’ is to work with the leaders, teams and groups who will have greatest influence on results. Success at this level – often small at first – can be used to inform & create interest & momentum elsewhere. As Jim Collins writes in the Harvard Business Review article: ‘Turning Goals into Results’, it is often the small things that can ignite far-reaching changes.
Certain factors need to be present for this to be a success. Most are obvious, some maybe less so…
- Focus on the ‘right’ area; where opportunities exist & where success will make a noticeable difference.
- Work with the ‘right’ people; strong outcomes rely on enthusiasm, commitment & interest.
- Involve all parties; keys to success may lie outside the immediate team.
- Be clear about the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’; too often this fails to get the attention it needs. As General Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff (UK Armed Forces) noted in 2012, you can train people in strategy & practice the tactics; the difficult bit is operations, putting the strategy into action.
- Manage commitments; the promises people make to each other are the true drivers of action.
- Offer support at the ‘right’ times in the ‘right’ ways; the timely support of a ‘light-touch’ catalyst means control remains where it should be, with those directly involved.
- Strengthen capability only where it serves the specific interests of the project; develop people on the job, not in the classroom.