Often, we hear management saying they have a strategy. This will change their position, whether in comparison to their competitors in the private sector, or how they are perceived as a government organization.
It will be usually a paradigm shift from how they’ve been operating in the past. They usually lock themselves into a room for days on end to arrive at the firm’s strategic goals and/or series of actions they’ll be taking over the next few years to arrive at their desired position. Then the management rolls it out to all the employees, has a fancy communication blitz filled with town hall meetings, newsletters, videos, emails, etc. Then it stops, employee’s wonder where the excitement went…and eventually, the strategy falters.
Whether called strategy execution or strategy implementation, the concept of following up on the firm’s strategy isn’t as widely pervasive as it should be. The employees at all levels of the organization have varying degrees of the strategy’s adoption. That is understood as there are different shades of understanding of strategy thinking as a competency and there are different colors of political affinity to the success of the strategy. However, to bridge the gap should be the responsibility of the leaders who launch this strategy and would like to see its eventual achievement. Their responsibility is to connect the employees both in terms of tangibility and intangibility.
If we delve into the intangible realm, the leaders should aspire to create an organization where the strategy has permeated the skin of each and every employee. To resonate to that level, a concerted effort must be placed to ensure a constant and steady stream of activities throughout the organization to bolster the strategy centric organization. We’re talking videos, road shows, best-practice sharing meetings, trainings, inspirational stories and emails. It shouldn’t stop there, as the main purpose of infusing strategy throughout employees needs an innovatively formulated and constant reminder.
For the tangible part of the strategy execution, the connection should be directly tied to their performance evaluations. If we think of employees on the lower echelons of the organizational structure, their work is concentrated specifically in the day-to-day operations. However, they should understand and see that their contribution to the strategy can make a difference. Therefore, their responsibilities and desired achievements need to tie back to the overarching corporate strategy, its strategic imperatives and subsequent aspirations. Without this, they keep plugging away at their tasks without seeing any tangible implication to the realization of the strategic vision of the firm.
The main issue is that most of the clients we’ve worked with realize the importance of connecting the strategy at all levels of the organization through some sort of execution medium or framework. However, they struggle to put it in place as expertise and resource constraints gradually surface as a critical challenge. Those reasons shouldn’t prevent them from abetting the process. The first version of the strategy execution framework will not be perfect, similar to the strategy. Similar to the strategy, the primary round of the strategy execution framework serves the purposes of accelerating the employee’s learning curve. That doesn’t mean they’ll typically master it the first round (nor the second). However, they will begin the gradual process of strategic thinking, which encompasses the strategy formulation, development and execution.