Strategy Execution

Overview

Having established your insightful and bold strategic plan, it’s time to establish a framework to help guide your time and efforts in implementation. Strategy is one thing; execution is another. Going back to your desk will pull you back into the many urgent tasks calling for your attention. This is how plans can start to just sit on the shelf and to introduce cynicism into the whole process.

Running through the fog

Running through the fog

Having begun the journey, you need to lace up your sneakers and start moving.

There are a few critical elements to consider as part of this overall performance management.

Balanced Scorecard: metrics and targets

Firstly, you’ll want a balanced scorecard containing the measures/metrics you’ve landed on in your strategic plan that align and support your objectives. This can be anywhere from 4 to 24 measures, covering the four perspectives of running your organization, including leading and lagging financial and non-financial indicators:

  • financial
  • customer
  • internal business process
  • learning & growth

Each of the measures will have a target value that represents what “good” looks like based on your plan. These targets can be pretty much anything that makes to you. Some may be:

  • dollar figures (e.g., revenue or expense),
  • percentages (e.g., new customers out of the total base),
  • integers (e.g., number of new products or services introduced)
  • ratios (e.g., audience members per 1,000 citizens)
  • time frames (e.g., project implemented by October 15th)
  • survey result (e.g., average rating of 4.5 out of a possible perfect 5)
  • index (e.g., consolidation of various results to questions on an employee engagement survey)

Initiatives

Secondly, you’ll need to have determined which initiatives are required to take your organization from today’s results to those you set in your plan. Typically, simply clicking your heels three times isn’t going to do the job. Someone needs to be named as the “owner” of each initiative/project with appropriate support and resources to set them up for success.

Included in this is the very difficult job of deciding which existing resources or initiatives can and should be stopped or redeployed – assuming that they are the least strategically important for the future at this point in time – to provide the energy required if new, additional capital or human resources aren’t going to be acquired for the plan.

Governance

Thirdly, good intentions have a way of going sideways if there isn’t control and follow-up. So, you’ll need to establish a regular, periodic schedule to check in on the status of your plan.

Your monthly or quarterly agenda needs to be pre-set with expectations that the numerical results will be reviewed in detail against their strategic intent along with the project status of the initiatives. Clearly, the named owners can be expected to speak to the details of their results.

Until the projects are completed, the metrics being measured can’t be expected to have hit their targets – though they might anyway – and so the focus needs to be checking in to whether the projects can be considered in status red (not good), yellow (warning), or green (all clear).

For projects that are in yellow or red status, it is important that the leadership team doing the review doesn’t turn the exercise into a “witch hunt” and assign blame, but looks to understand what the issues are and what needs to be done to get the project back into green status.

There’s always the possibility that, as time moves on, the project may not be required after all. As mentioned before, you reserve the right to be wrong, or it could be that the marketplace has changed rapidly. Don’t keep struggling along when it’s unnecessary. As I read once, fail faster, succeed sooner.