3 Principles to Increase Strategy Execution Capacity
Does this sound familiar to you? You’ve held your strategy meeting with your management team, identified key strategic initiatives, assigned responsibilities and you were off and running. Everyone was on board and excited leaving the meeting, or so it seemed. What’s happening? Why are we not making any progress against these initiatives that are so critical to our long-term success as a company? If this sounds familiar to you, don’t be surprised. You are not alone.
In our experience with clients, and findings from multiple research studies confirm that the urgency and energy needed to run the day-to-day business will win, over-powering strategic initiatives every time. It’s not that your managers and employees are not smart or capable. Rather the urgency of the moment will sap time and resources, stealing your managers’ and employees’ capacity to tackle strategic initiatives.
The good news…it is possible to balance these two competing tensions, the day-to-day running of the business and important strategic initiatives. Companies that put in place an organized, strategy execution process will successfully manage the clash of these two forces, and your employees will thank you for it. (See “Is Strategy Execution Worth the Effort”) Consider the following three principles for improving your organizations strategy execution capacity:
- Do less, get more – The “Law of Diminishing Returns” states that the more you expect, the less you will have completed. If you try to do too many strategic initiatives at once, while holding all other day-to-day activities constant, performance will suffer and the initiatives will not get done. Be selective and set priorities so that employees can realistically deal with the tensions between day-to-day activities and being held accountable to complete important strategic projects.
- Monitor progress – Tracking progress against metrics and project activity is critical to the strategy execution process and the achievement of the organization’s long-term strategic objectives. Transparent reporting of metrics through a dashboard will provide the visibility management needs to make better and faster decisions. Being able to determine if strategic projects are having the expected impact on the strategic objective will cause discussion about whether to continue or stop projects that are not working. (See “Are You Measuring What Matters”)
- Meet regularly – Schedule standing monthly meetings to discuss progress against strategy milestones. Progress meetings will ensure that employees maintain focus, have the resources they need, and stay committed to achieving the project. Without these regularly scheduled meetings, employees will succumb to their natural tendency, namely work on the day-to-day running of the business (See “5 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement in Strategy”), and as a result, completion dates will be missed, and or projects will never be completed.
These three principles of strategy execution are easier said than done. It explains why many CEO’s and their leadership teams struggle with achieving their strategic objectives. However, our experience working with clients has shown that investing time and resources to adopt a robust strategy execution process will significantly improve your strategy execution capacity.
Do you have an experience with strategy execution you would like to share with us? We would welcome your stories and comments.