Business leaders today should navigate through complexity, velocity, uncertainty or ambiguity in a dynamic business environment and enhance an iterative strategy management cycle effectively.
In today’s “VUCA” business dynamic, strategic planning and execution are a continuous cycle of organizational adaptation to a changing world. The best strategies offer a somewhat clear path for implementation while the worst are vague or unrealistic.
Get sponsorship and endorsement from the C-Level for dynamic planning: Strategic change starts with a “sense of urgency,” which can only come from the top management. You need strong senior executive leadership for support of strategy execution, drive strategic change and adoption, and provide a competitive advantage in the long run. The visible and active sponsorship is critical to focus on resource assignment, adoption, communication and training, coordination and facilitation, not bullying and forcing. Strong leaders have to support/sponsor strategy to ensure competence, talent for execution is available.
The top management sponsorship is crucial to develop a good strategy, discover the unique business strength and build the culture of performance. The strong sponsor is more important than the correct functional alignment. A great sponsor can overcome organizational issues, particularly early in the maturity. The sponsor must be fully engaged with the strategic change, willing to be visible, willing to lead other senior stakeholders and ready to participate in continuous communication, making adjustments of planning and improving strategy management effectiveness.
Identify strategy champions and build a qualified execution team: The best people to execute a strategy are those who have contributed to the development of it. A strategy implementation team should be built with strategy champions who can shape strategic thinking, drive strategic changes efficiently, break the resistance of people and encourage them to accept new changes. There are multiple personas for strategy execution such as strategy navigators, strategy practitioners, strategy evaluators, etc. It is a slow process and takes a lot of patience from strategy champions to achieve higher than expected business results.
A well-defined strategy needs a well-trained team to execute it; and there is no shortcut to it. It is advisable for any organization to adapt step by step process to manage strategy and build internal capability with it. Finding and building the right team with complementary skills and empowering them to implement the strategy effectively.
Perform consistent clear communication between all stakeholders: Communication clarity directly impacts business effectiveness and strategy implementation success rate. One of the factors for strategy management to fail at the implementation phase is its complexity. Often, there’s ambiguity in strategy management and dynamism in strategy implementation. The expectation is not communicated clearly to all and is neither well understood by all stakeholders or well defined into the achievable business goals and objectives. Top leaders are able to initiate digital dialogs, collect the cross-functional teams’ input and commitment to get the work well-done and accountable for high performance results.
Good communication is based on expertise, contextual understanding, and deep insight, to avoid “lost in translation” syndrome. Effective communication will identify, and enforce both internal and external success factors in strategy execution, avoid roadblocks or overcome barriers on the way. Either individually or collectively, communicating with business peers, partners, or customers, needs to be authentic and fact-based. Involve all stakeholders right from the beginning; practice cross boundary communication, seek ideas/suggestions with the execution team and create a bonding within the team. Everybody needs to be involved, at a certain point and at a certain stage of the strategy execution.
Conduct periodic follow-ups to review/refresh checkpoints, manage internal/external success factors of strategy implementation: When you define goals and objectives, resulting from a strategic thinking/implementation process, these goals should have a mid to long term time horizon with intermediate checkpoints. To have a “complete” picture of how effective your strategy is, the management needs to check up: Are your people acting in a way that is consistent with the strategy? Are your processes and people integrated to ensure a consistent ability to change? Is strategy implementation on the right track to achieve higher than expected business results? Etc.
It’s important to set up a checkpoint, conduct periodic follow-ups; make those checkpoint reviews comprehensively, take into account financial and non-financial measures, internal improvements, past outcomes and ongoing requirements as indications of future performance. The term is in tune with the risk-driven, adaptive nature of agile strategy management. You must have relevant metrics that measure not only financial and market performance, but operational and organizational performance as well. You should check to see if you’re on course what adjustments are required, and where to go next.
There are many roadblocks on the way of strategy execution. Therefore, business leaders today should navigate through complexity, velocity, uncertainty or ambiguity in a dynamic business environment and enhance an iterative strategy management cycle effectively. It’s important for managers to take a holistic view of strategy, keep their eyes on the higher horizons, focus on what matters the most, identify what generates the most value for the company, express that in strategic objectives with clarity, and take step-wise strategy scenarios to implement it smoothly.