All organizations struggle at some point to put their strategy into action (Read: actually get done what they say they really want to do).
I find that key problems of executing are common in companies of all sizes and industries — but particularly in companies that want to scale.
Because people have to do new things to support the evolving business needs, and that’s hard. It’s hard to get alignment, it’s hard to prioritize, and it’s hard to resist temptation and keep focus.
In this video I talk about: the 5 things that block strategic progress (and how to fix them).
Or if you prefer reading, here is a brief summary.
1. Talk vs. doing
Problem: Companies can get very practiced at talking about their strategy.
The trouble arises when people (at every level) don’t understand how to change their day to day work to do what the strategy requires.
Solution: Translate the exciting, high level strategy-talk into much more mundane, concrete, measurable and trackable action items.
2. People don’t agree
Problem: Nodding heads around the table is a red flag!
It doesn’t mean people agree. It mostly means they think they’ll get out of the meeting faster if they nod their head. If people don’t agree, they won’t move forward in an aligned way. Your strategy stalls.
Solution: You need to proactively smoke out the misunderstandings, unspoken disagreements, passive aggressive behaviors, and generally weak or apathetic support. Then you need to set up specific accountability.
3. Resource moves are not clear
Problem: If you want to do new things, you need to move resources to do it.
Your strategy is where you put your resources. If you are not super-clear about what resources will move, they will never move. Your strategy will not move forward either.
Solution: Don’t expect your staff to make trade offs off-line to drive the new strategy. This never works. You need to do it top down in the light of day.
4. Too busy to change
Problem: There is no extra time. Urgent crises, customer opportunities, or changing your mind usurps work on longer term strategic initiatives.
So you stay really busy but you don’t move forward or grow.
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Solution: Keep focus on strategic progress by setting measures and tracking progress. If you miss a deadline discuss it. Find out what happened.
Never let strategic milestones slip by un-examined. This is a slippery slope into chronically bad execution.
5. Failure to engage and communicate with people
Problem: The strategy gets stuck at the executive level.
You forget to tell the people who need to do the work what they need to do. The inertia for people to keep doing what they are already doing is very strong.
Solution: Create an ongoing communication plan throughout the entire process of executing the strategy. Motivate and engage people to get on board and give them personal reasons to care. Give them the tools to modify their work to support your new strategy.
Get it done this time
Most businesses know what they want to do, they just have some trouble actually doing it.
I work with companies to use my Strategy into Action Progam™ when they are ready to GO FAST. Contact me if you want to talk about this.
Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in Patty Azzarello’s series on What Good General Managers DO. Previous articles were:
- Learning What Great Executives and General Managers Do;
- The Gap Between Committed and Done: It’s About Managing the Process;
- Motivation and Delivering on Time, or Why Consequences Really DO Matter;
- Strategic Planning and Other Great Managerial Delusions; and,
- Why People Don’t Do What You Say — Even When It’s Really Important.
This was originally published on Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. Her latest book is Rise: How to be Really Successful at Work and LIKE Your Life.