Friday, August 7, 2015

How Often Shall you Revisit your Strategy

What really matters is having a continuous dialog about the progress being made to achieve the strategic initiatives.
Change is challenging and accelerating, organizational leaders need to spend more time on strategy, and it takes the time to redirect an organization’s strategy. Unfortunately, in companies that struggle to execute strategy, most of the management’s time is spent on near-term operating decisions and specifically delivering the annual plan. As a result, many of the decisions that shape the future organization are made unconsciously in the day-to-day running of the business, or annual budget process. Therefore, there’s disconnect between strategy and execution, and often it cause strategy execution fail to achieve the expectation. So how often should business leaders revisit strategy? Do you just waste time to play with the numbers or truly review the progress being made in your strategy meetings?

What really matters is having a continuous dialog about the progress being made to achieve the strategic initiatives. Most executives view goal setting as an annual event, even though business is dynamic, and the business objectives can change over that 12 month period. There is nothing wrong with the annual revisiting of the goals, but goal setting should be event-driven as well whenever it is needed during the year. Many CXOs don't understand that, and this is where their problems begin. They then talk about poor execution, poor productivity, poor results, and keep asking for more updates or reports without addressing some of the underlying problems with strategy and execution alignment and sometimes changing or conflicting priorities.

Senior managers need to spend as much time together discussing strategy as they spend on operational (day-to-day) issues. The more time managers spend together brainstorming strategy, the more opportunity they will have to resolve strategic issues, to gain a commitment to the actions to be taken, and create a more integrated strategy management process. Often, there have been in too many strategy review meetings where time is wasted challenging the reported numbers, rather than reviewing what actual progress is being made toward achieving the strategic initiatives. The rules of thumb should include:
a) Everybody should share the vision and understand his/her value added in this track.
b) Senior management should promote all initiatives with a direct link to executives.
c) Executives should promote results and understand why the change identified on their radar do not deliver.

Goals are related to commitments. There should be transparency on goals set not just at the top level in a company but further down. As you agree on goals with your manager, having them displayed and tracked where your co-workers can also view progress is a big public expression of intent. Too often these are hidden within an annual performance system and reviewed once per year. It is useful to structure strategic thinking by commitments, goals, and objectives. As far as the frequency of assessing goal achievement status, the suggestion to do so daily seems excessive. More naturally, a weekly status of objectives and monthly status of goals may be more fitting. In the end, however, all this is situational. The goal setting practices include:
1) Commitments may be framed in the context of value propositions.
2) Goals many be framed in terms of well-defined outcomes along with associated earned value metrics to calibrate progress.
3) Objectives may be framed as more tactical activities.

The strategy is "shareware," not a "shelfware." It sets the direction for tactics and operations to aim at and support. Business leaders have to visit it more often for assessing change scenarios as well as goal achievement status. It is important to stress the importance of strategy execution and laser focus on achieving the strategic goals. Planning and execution are an interdependent and dynamic continuum.


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