If your company’s strategic plan is compelling and the team is working really hard—but you’re still not seeing the results you expect—you might be missing a key link between strategy and execution.
You may have overlooked a critical step in your planning process: a disciplined translation of your strategy into execution plans… a.k.a. Strategy Deployment.
Symptoms of “the missing link”
The main symptom of the missing link is sloth-like execution, despite having skilled, adequately resourced, hard-working teams.
Here are a few other signs…
- Driving change feels like turning a tanker ship, not a speedboat. Your strategy says turn right, but the ship keeps going straight. Meanwhile, your company is making Herculean efforts on dozens of projects. Unfortunately, most of those projects do not drive the change that’s required.
- Teams are trapped in a cycle of “hurry up and wait.” If cross-functional dependencies are not well coordinated, execution will lag, and the teams will be frustrated waiting on each other.
- It is hard to pinpoint why the results are off. There is no single root cause. Trying to find out why just seems to lead to more questions.
- Competitors are moving faster than you. Smaller, nimbler companies are making headway in your market. But you’re moving too slowly to head them off.
- Functional excellence ≠ business results. Sales, Product Development, Manufacturing, Supply Chain and other functions perform well—maybe even best-in-class—but somehow they are not bringing the overall business results.
How can Strategy Deployment help?
Strategy Deployment helps you set clear execution goals, establish effective metrics, cascade accountabilities, and diagnose bottlenecks.
There are a myriad of strategy deployment tools, techniques and templates. However, I’ve seen too many teams get caught up in the process “weeds”—creating administrative work by filling out forms, but missing the crux and hence the major benefits.
My advice? Leave the X-Matrixes, TTIs, and Bowling Charts to a designated expert. Don’t be afraid to simplify the process and customize it to your organization’s needs.
The point of Strategy Deployment is not to create more reports and metrics for the executive team to monitor. It’s to help make sure that the people who are executing the strategies understand—and are accountable for—their specific role in achieving success. The link between strategy and execution is often talked about like an abstraction. Strategy Deployment helps you bring it back to where the rubber meets the road: On the frontlines of your sales, customer service, and product teams.
Find your missing results: Best practices
In my experience, the following guiding principles are critical in driving strategy to results and minimizing process paralysis.
- Align strategic efforts. Good communication is not enough. You need to ensure clear alignment of functions, roles, and dependencies across the organization. Use Strategic Deployment tools to create multiple levels of accountability and dependencies, and map your business strategy to individual goals across every function, product line, and geography in your business.
- Stretch your teams. Mistakes, delays, and failures are inevitable when you execute complex strategies. Here’s how to plan for them:
- Set “breakthrough goals” that stretch your organization to reach higher levels of achievement.
- However, make sure you have non-stretch target levels, too. Your results should end up beyond your threshold non-stretch targets, and, in some areas, reach breakthrough goals.
- Measure progress. You need to track not just financials, but leading and lagging indicators. Selecting these metrics is critical to success, as they not only communicate the goals, but directly provide focus about what your team is rewarded upon.
- Engage from top to bottom. It’s essential to engage all organizational levels that contribute to your strategy. Too many companies lose momentum and lose the accountability at senior managers. But the people on the frontlines of execution are often those who need the tools most, because they are usually the key point of change.
- Support your process. Strategy Deployment is different for every company, and the process can be cumbersome unless you provide organizational support. Appointing a Strategy Deployment process owner to support and manage the process can make the difference between great strategy results and an organization that ‘throws up’ all over the process.
Better Linkage – Better Results
Stop throwing more and more resources at your strategy, or questioning why the strategy doesn’t seem to be working. It might not be broken. By leading and managing the link between strategy and execution, you can drive major improvements to your results without upending your strategy or your executing team.
It could be the best non-strategic return on investment your company pursues this year!
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