Herald GGF 24-Part Series Part 4_24 – Effective Implementation of Strategy for Sustainable Transformation
Effective strategy implementation for sustainable transformation
(Part 4 of a 24-part weekly series)
In part 3 of this series, we introduced the concept of strategy, and undertook to focus on implementation in a subsequent episode. Well, our word is bond.
If you are actively following our series then perhaps you have just come back from a successful company strategy retreat, everyone must still be excited, so we must quickly move from conceptual thinking to executing the strategy and realising organisational goals. Implementing your strategic plan is as important, or even more important, than crafting your strategy. Erica Olsen, the COO and co-founder of On-Strategy, writes eloquently about the importance of STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION and describes it as the process that turns strategies and plans into actions in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals.
Sadly, the majority of companies who have strategic plans fail to implement them. Too often leaders pour their energy and resources into formulating strategy and spend too little time figuring out how to implement that strategy throughout the organisation and statistics in the recent Fortune Magazine seem to support that view. Nine out of ten organizations fail to implement their strategic plans. At least 60% of institutional strategic plans are not linked to budgeting; nor to employee incentives. Approximately 86% of business leaders spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, according to the same study.
In our article last week, we pointed out how strategic plans provide direction towards the vision. Olsen emphasizes, however, that a plan is just a plan, and it does not guarantee success any more than having a roadmap guarantees the traveler arrives at the desired destination. A journey must actually take place first.
The strategic plan addresses the what and why of activities, but implementation addresses the who, where, when, and how. Because of the large proportion of institutions that fail at implementation, it is clear that building strong implementation capacity in your institution can be a source of competitive advantage.
So that we can avoid them in our own institutions, let us note some of the most common reasons why strategic plans fail:
- Lack of ownership, and employee buy-in;
- Poor internal communication of the strategy and induction;
- Leaders getting mired in the day-to-day activities and losing sight of long-term goals;
- Inadequate integration of the strategy into businessprocesses;
- Overwhelming plans and performance management systems that are too complex;
- Failure to incorporate implementation into the strategic planning process;
- Failure to track implementation and provide systemized progress report;
- Lack of accountability for the implementation of the plan by assigning each measure, objective, data source, and initiative must have an owner; and
- Inadequate empowerment of team members through training, resources and authority to carry out strategic initiatives.
There are five key factors necessary to support implementation: people, resources, structure, systems, and culture. All components must be in place in order to move from creating the plan to activating the plan.
People– Make sure to have the right people on board. Build a team with capacity to drive the strategy. Invest in the development of employee skills through training, recruitment, or new recruits.
Resources– Mobilise adequate funding and provide enough time to support each initiative realistically.
Structure – Review the organisational structure to ensure that all key strategic initiatives are assigned to a well resourced driver, and design clear, open lines of communication with all employees.
Systems– Review and install automated and manual systems to help track implementation progress. In Zimbabwe, the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) or the Integrated Results Based Management system (IRBM) are the most widely used tools for tracking and performance management.
Culture– Create an environment that connects employees to the organization’s mission and that makes them feel comfortable. To reinforce the importance of focusing on strategy and vision, reward success. Develop some creative positive and negative consequences for achieving or not achieving the strategy. The rewards may be big or small, as long as they lift the strategy above the day-to-day so people make it a priority.
Once the planning process is complete, transformational leaders must proceed to:
- Communicate the strategic plan to all stakeholders, especially those responsible for its implementation.
- Align the budget to annual goals.
- Cascade the strategy by building annual operational plans for all departments (with emphasis on their respective components).
- Train users on the effective use of the BSC or IRBM system for performance management.
- Establish a performance-linked reward system.
- Review implementation regularly by establishing such platforms as strategy monitoring meetings.
In our next article, we will discuss performance management and how you can use this to ensure that your implementation process is effective.
This article was compiled by Felix Kumirai, a transformational strategist and resource mobilisation consultant at GENESIS GLOBAL FINANCE. The contents herein are for information purposes only, and GGF does not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of materials or opinions contained in this article.
TO CONTACT GENESIS GLOBAL FINANCE:
- Call us on: +2638644131515 or +263777352828;
- Like us facebook: genesisglobalfinance/privatelimited
- Follow us on Twitter: @ggfafrica
- LinkedIn: /in/genesis-global-finance-166908a3/