January 23, 2020
Strategy sets the direction for competitive advantage and success. It’s innovative and visible at the highest levels of the company. In some situations, new strategies have make-or-break impact. However, one thing is sure: Without robust tactical execution, the strategy will never see the light of day.
Many leaders focus solely on strategy creation and leave it to their team to bring the strategies to life. They’re mostly hoping for the best, rather than establishing a structured approach to the implementation. Setting the groundwork for effective implementation isn’t complex, but there are a few key pieces that must be put in place.
The vision of the future state not only must be clear, it must be actionable. As strategy cascades down the organizational hierarchy, the interpretation can drift off-target of the original vision. The simplest way to mitigate this drift is to break the vision down to the next level of detail. For example:
Vision: Leverage our core products to grow revenue in adjacent market space
What this means for:
Marketing: Characterize new market segment and assess fit of existing product
R&D: Modify and cost-reduce existing products
Service: Establish service centers in new geographies
Operations: Establish new distribution channels
Other key elements to think about regarding the strategic vision:
Oversight is the mechanism that provides tactical decision making for the implementation project itself—not the detailed day-to-day decisions, but the big ones concerning major changes, pivots, and ultimately go/no-go on key aspects. In smaller companies, this probably falls to the owner or founder, but as company size increases, oversight is more effective as a group of senior managers representing the key areas of the company.
Those responsible for oversight must:
As President Eisenhower said, “Planning is everything, the plan is nothing.” I’m not sure I agree that the plan is nothing, but I fully agree that the process of planning is invaluable. Planning is where the strategy is translated into an implementation roadmap. Tough discussions, painful trade-offs, and inspiring collaboration get the team aligned and energized.
The output of the planning process is the tactical roadmap or plan. While this part can be tedious, it’s critically important. The plan sets the expectations for delivery, and if created at the right level of detail, it will guide the team to the finish line.
Project management is also about driving the project to completion, which includes responding to changes or issues in an agile way, keeping the tactical work aligned with the top-level vision, and leading the team on a daily basis. Here are four points to consider:
To stay ahead in a rapidly changing environment, an organization must have the agility to pivot to a new strategy. This agility is a competitive advantage. The question is whether you can implement the new strategy in a predictable and timely manner.