Why is it So Hard to Achieve Our Strategic Objectives?
Does this sound familiar to you? You’ve held your strategy meeting with your leadership team late last year, identified strategic objectives and initiatives, assigned responsibilities and you were off and running. Everyone was on board, or so it seemed. What’s happening? Why are we not making any progress against these initiatives that are critical to our long-term success? If this is familiar to you, don’t be surprised. You are not alone.
Our own experience, and findings from multiple research studies, including from Franklin Covey and The Balanced Scorecard, tell us that the urgency and energy needed to run the day-to-day business will win over strategic objectives every time. It’s not that your managers and employees are not smart or incapable. Rather the urgency of the moment will sap time and resources away without anyone realizing it until it’s too late.
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, continuous strategy execution management process will successfully manage the clash of these two forces, and your employees will thank you for it. Consider the following principles for strengthening your organizations strategy execution capabilities:
Do less, get more – The “Law of diminishing returns” states that the more you expect, the less will be completed. If you try to do too many projects, while holding all other day-to-day activities constant, performance will suffer. Be selective and set priorities so that employees can realistically deal with the tensions between day-to-day activities and being held accountable to completing key initiatives.
Monitor progress – It’s an old cliché: “What gets measured gets done.” Tracking performance against Key Performance Indicator (KPI) targets will give the leadership team the visibility they need to make better decisions, and employees will better understand how their contributions are impacting the achievement of strategic objectives.
Commit to a follow up cadence – Without a cadence of regularly scheduled meetings, employees will succumb to their natural tendency, namely work on the day-to-day running of the business. Schedule standing monthly meetings with project leaders to discuss progress against milestones. These progress meetings will ensure that project teams are maintaining a focus on key projects and are committed to completing them successfully.
These 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, in our experience, clients that invest the time and resources to adopt a robust strategy execution management process will dramatically improve progress against strategic objectives.
Do you have an experience with strategy execution you would like to discuss with us? We would welcome your stories and comments. Please feel free to share this newsletter with your friends and associates as you see fit.
“Execution is a specific set of behaviors and techniques that companies need to master in order to have competitive advantage. It’s a discipline of its own.” —Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy, Execution
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” —Jack Welch