Your leadership team has spent numerous hours talking, brainstorming and developing your latest organizational strategy, and it’s a good one! It’s one that you believe will transform the very way your organization does business – maybe even impact the entire industry’s way of doing business! But, how do you take that amazing strategy, and turn it into an actual, no-kidding reality?
That’s where most organizations seem to get stuck. They spend so much time on developing their strategy, they forget to include the people that actually know how to implement it – how to truly make it become reality. Without that, it doesn’t matter how amazing your strategy is – it’s just paper (or a computer screen, perhaps). Turning the strategy into actions that, one-by-one, get your closer to true achievement is the obvious goal, so why does it seem to be so hard?
Let’s take a look at 3 ways to ensure your strategy becomes reality:
1. Find your “action-oriented” employees who are skilled at effectively making things happen. This can be tricky – a lot of employees are striving for the limelight, so it’s important to know which ones can actually handle the task, and which ones just want the appearance of handling the task.
- You need project managers who are going to be able to take the strategy and, literally break it up into manageable chunks. This is someone who not only held a “title” of project or program manager – but someone who knows how to actually do the work.
- You need someone who can build team members up, not cut them down. Someone who knows how to perform true resource allocation, and can mentor others because they realize how important it is for your organization’s future. They don’t need to be “told” to mentor others – they just do it.
- You need someone who isn’t afraid of being honest – to share the good, the bad and the ugly. If they don’t think the strategy is technically feasible within the timeframe given by leadership, they will tell you why, and what measures can be taken to fix it, or modify it to obtain as close to the expected outcome as possible.
- You need someone who isn’t afraid to learn, and won’t have 100% of the answers (nobody has ALL the answers, and if you have someone who thinks they do – you haven’t found the right person just yet!).
- You need someone who is going to take charge with knowledge and relationships. They have experience and knowledge in the project and program management arena, but they are smart enough to know that it takes a great team to make great things happen – they know they can’t do it alone.
- You need someone who is allowed to (without repercussion) and willing to speak up to the leadership team to ask questions. If the strategy isn’t specific enough on the desired results, they need to push the senior leadership to obtain the clarity needed to help make them – and their organization – successful. You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, would you? Same principles apply to your strategy – you need a plan with detailed expected outcomes (yes, even in an “Agile” environment!
2. You have 5-9 objectives (some call these ‘goals’, but objectives are measurable, where goals are not, so I’ll call them objectives). Why 5-9? There if you have too few objectives, you aren’t pushing hard enough, and too many implies you aren’t focused enough. You want your strategy to be achievable, but not ‘lazy’, otherwise, what’s the point? If you have sub-objectives within each objective, less than 5 may appropriate. The more complex, the less you may want, but never than 3.
3. You have clearly prioritized each of your strategic objectives. By clearly, I mean using a method, and making that method transparent so that members of your organization, as well as your key stakeholders truly understand your priorities. More importantly – they support them, because they understand the method to the madness. Anyone can point fingers and delegate a “most important”, “next most important” and so on. That’s very 20th century-thinking and there are plenty of advanced decision-making methods out there that can be put to good use. Show your organizational learning culture by taking an advanced decision making method (my personal favorite is the Analytical Hierarchy Process – Google will tell you all about it, if you ask), and applying it.
Having your objectives prioritized is understated almost always, but this is critical to ensuring all resources (money, people, equipment, time itself, and training to make it happen) are put against the most important areas first (as well as optimizing!). You will go far and have the support of your employees if they understand the logic behind what they are supposed to be doing! Skip this part, and you’ll have lost at least half of your employees (maybe not physical loss – yet, but mental loss is certain) before you even start!
Of course, there is a lot that goes into achieving a strategy, but these are the up-front and immediate steps you can take to get your implementation off to the best start possible. If you’ve already started implementing and wondering why you’re not getting the answers you seek, or why you’re not as far along as you believe you should be – take a step back, regroup, and apply these three steps.
What are other ways you could help ensure strategic achievement? Comment below, share your thoughts and keep the conversation going!