Albu On Strategy

Making Strategy Happen

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway.  USA got off to a great start beating Thailand and Chile decisively.  Jill Ellis is the team’s soccer coach and has proven herself to be an exemplary leader. Over the years, Jill has gained the players’ confidence and buy-in. Coach and players share a common goal (to win) and understand the importance of each individual’s contributions to the whole team. Jill is the strategist on the field, and it’s her responsibility to make strategy happen by adapting to the field of play and her players’ performance to deliver the win.  

CEOs deal with very similar circumstances. They develop, communicate strategy and are tasked to make strategy happen. Here are four important components of the strategy execution management process to keep in mind.

Communicate – A key role of the CEO is to communicate the strategy to the organization clearly and often. With everything going on in the company, it is often hard to break through the clutter to get your message across. Your strategy communication plan therefore needs to be continuous.  Leaders should communicate the intent of the strategy, what success looks like, and establish a cadence of reporting progress.   

Buy-in – According to John Kotter, author of “Buy-in: Saving Your Good Ideas from Getting Shot Down,” 70% of major change efforts either don’t get started or fail.  One of the major reasons for this poor performance is a lack of buy-in from the rank and file.  In our experience, the most successful CEOs engage employees throughout the strategy development process. By involving employees, buy-in will come more naturally, and it will build commitment and energy around the change effort.

Feedback – Don’t be afraid to be challenged. Invite everyone to ask questions, and welcome critical thinking.  When you welcome discussion and debate, strategies get stronger.  On the other hand, if you do not get questions or challenges, it’s probably because employees are not engaged.   Encourage employees to way in and become a part of the solution.

Adapt – Be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. Regardless how much you plan, something will come up you can’t predict.  Cost of materials will rise or fall, competitors will disrupt your plans, customers will be lost unexpectedly.   Strategy is all about making choices and placing bets on the future.  Remain open minded and learn to adapt to whatever changes come your way.

Making strategy happen is the most important phase of the strategy management process.  CEOs will not be successful unless there are systems in place to communicate, follow up and adapt. 

Let us know what your experiences have been and please feel free to share this article with others.

Posted in Newsletter, Strategy Execution, Strategy Management.