Friday, November 20, 2015

What’s the Weakest Link in Strategy Execution

PEOPLE is always one of the weakest links in strategy execution.

A good strategy is beyond the well-designed template filled out with goal and vision, it should be more subject to challenges we face and provides an approach to overcome them, it’s executable. However, Complexity, uncertainty, disruptive changes, and interdependence are the new normal facing business today, more than two-thirds of strategy implementation fail to achieve the expected result. What’s the weakest link in strategy execution? And how to improve the effectiveness of strategy implementation?

Leadership: Clear communication and "walk the talk" are absolutely important. Leading by example, support from the senior leadership and coaching is extremely crucial to effective strategy implementation. It is important to make sure that the strategy has been communicated broadly and well understood by everyone. The good strategy will break an executive team out of tunneled vision, and transform into a creative, entrepreneurial, and strategic perspective. It is perhaps helpful to blend of two different methodologies -storytelling and visual maps to facilitate the communication process: The visual map gives people the whole business situation and the storytelling conducted by leaders provide the meaning of transformation. It often happens where the organization defines and communicates a certain strategy, but as soon as they come across the first conflict, their decisions contradict the communicated strategy. Therefore, with the support of senior leadership, iteration, interaction, and cross-functional understanding are all crucial in enforcing communication.  

Process: Another interesting link to explore is the driver for identifying key strategic processes. It is usually the parameters that affect strategy execution the most which are key. In essence -strategy implementation is fundamental to how processes should be managed. This is an important issue to understand that the processes in your business will deliver/create the business result. Many times you don't consider the processes as the main driver to deliver the desired result, and then you will not get the result you hoped for. The processes are the tool to get the result you formulate in the strategy. Methodologically, a more adaptive strategy-development process places a premium on effective communications from all the executives participating. Also, convert these initiatives into an operating reality by formally integrating the strategic-management process with financial planning processes, governance processes or other key business processes, and create a rigorous, ongoing management process for formulating the specific strategic initiatives.

Technology: Many companies miss the strategy for how they use technology to manage the business of the business vs. just managing the business. Is the business model scaling the right way to achieve the strategic objectives? Are there things that can be done to direct more cash towards development activity, besides just re-allocating budgets and cutting headcount. Most companies are lacking a holistic strategy for how they use technology to drive their business, and it's the information management strategy that most often goes unmanaged. Nowadays, there is great value in collaborative technologies that allow for more democratic decision-making and increased collaboration and information sharing across functional departments. Digital technologies can also be very helpful in strategic analysis. Information Strategy must be updated from time to time based on the current business requirements. Or if any advanced technology is driving the business, then it happens on the other way round. IT is often driving the business, depends on the industry, as well as a benchmark in the similar industry.

PEOPLE: People are always one of the weakest links in strategy execution. The business strategy execution gaps exist at the people’s mindsets, the organizational culture.  Lack of risk tolerance culture is also a barrier to implementing strategy more aggressively. You should reward ‘intelligent’ failure; mistakes are allowed, but you want people to start from a specific set of tested assumptions, rather than just shooting from the hip, learn from mistakes and adapt. You should promote and encourage drivers, that small group of intrapreneurs in your organization who are able to take an idea and passionately fight for it because innovation management is always a significant part of strategy management.

Governance: General speaking, four key dimensions of corporate governance are accountability, strategy, policy, and monitoring - understand accountability of environment - regulatory, shareholder, etc; the logical scenario is to develop business strategy, also develop business policies offering further constraint or guidance to implementation of strategy, and then monitor performance and implementation of strategy, as well as manage risks across all domains of interest. Thus, governance complements strategy management, and strategic planning is also one out of a high number of activities within an enterprise that is part of one or more corporate governance structures as well.

Strategy management is one of the most important business activities in organizations today. It is a cohesive entity of programs, projects, and policies that concentrate and fuse corporate resources to enable an organization to establish, sustain, and enhance its competitiveness and capabilities for self-renewal. It's about creating tomorrow's organization out of today. Therefore, it is critical to identify and strengthen the weakest link and determines how each part of the organization, including all of the key functions must "put it all together" to be successful in implementing strategy and bring tangible business results and reach the business vision ultimately.


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