Over the past 6 months, we’ve seen an increase in the number of organisations approaching us to help them to create their strategy for the next few years. Is that because people are looking for some certainty in these crazy times, or is our website SEO actually working and hence we are getting more enquiries? Maybe it's both… But either way, whilst working on strategy it got me thinking... You could design the best bloody strategy in the world, but if it isn’t executed well, then what have you really gained?
So I thought I’d pull together my top tips on how to ensure your strategy actually has an impact on the people you are wanting to help and delivers real social impact.
Here we go...
Tip #1 - Communication: Tell your people, clients and stakeholders where you are headed and WHY! Essentially your strategy is your leadership direction, and your role as a leader is to help people understand where the organisation is headed. So communicate, communicate and communicate some more, until you are 100% sure people understand your strategy's direction and context. Because if you get this right, it makes it a hell of a lot easier for the people around you to do their jobs well and move in the direction of your strategy. Also, when designing your strategy think about how you can make it easy to communicate from the very start. Making it simple and easy to understand by putting initiatives and objectives into groups/themes and colour-coding to make them easy for people to remember, will help you to make something complex seem simple. And don’t forget the most important bit which is WHY you are doing it. I could have linked that Simon Sinek TED talk here, but in 2020 I reckon everyone has seen that video at least 10 times now. But it's true! Give everyone an understanding of what’s in it for them and why your future direction is in their best interests. Without your people, clients and your key stakeholders on board with your strategy, any change that comes as a result, will seem rather random. If you don’t tell them why, people will often come to their own conclusions and they sometimes aren’t as constructive as the real reasons you and your team thought of when developing this strategy. It’s all about context!
Tip #2 - Have a solid implementation plan including change management A strategy is a high-level set of objectives and aspirations. What you need next is a plan that explains the detail of how you will implement the strategy. This is what will bridge the gap between your goals and your reality. Get your people involved in its design from the start and have people from all over your organisation involved in its implementation. Don’t forget, this is change! So this plan should be coupled with a change management plan as part of it. Think of the risks, the impacts to your people, clients and other stakeholders, and look at ways you can implement it in the most effective way to avoid disruption to your core work.
Tip #3 - Measure what's important and set routines to ensure progress is made
It’s important that in the design of your strategy that the goals you’ve set are supported with metrics that are easy to report on and track on a regular basis. Once you have these, you need to ensure you track these regularly at all levels of the organisation (where appropriate).
Then you want a series of routines, such as meetings, to bring all of the above tips together, on a regular and consistent basis. These routines are a place to track that progress towards your goals and actions in your implementation and change management plans.
I’d start by looking at your organisation's routines as a system, and understand where each level of the organisation reviews performance and the actions required to implement the strategy. Looking at it as a system will help you to see all of the individual parts as one, which means you reduce duplication and ensure that it's really clear that all elements of the strategy will be covered by the appropriate teams.
Anyways that's the list, did I miss any? Leave your thoughts or additional tips in the comments below. There are many things that need to happen, but these 3 will at least get you on the right track.