February 22, 2019 by Paul Bouvier
Leonardo Da Vinci stated, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” and this could not be truer when it comes to strategy execution. Unfortunately, Da Vinci did not find a simple strategy execution approach. Perhaps he was too busy inventing his tennis racket that has stood the test of time since 1504.
Strategy execution is defined as the ability to attain your strategic goals. There are many complex challenges that limit an organizations ability to execute strategy. In Steven Covey’s 4 Disciplines of Execution he stated one core challenge is alignment “unless you get individual work aligned to the organization’s top priorities, organizational goals will not be achieved”. Strategic alignment between people and their goals will determine an organizations ability to execute and attain results. Remaining focused and collaborating as priorities and goals evolve is a critical factor to success.
Another critical factor is the ability to manage these strategic goals holistically. Creating transparency increases collaboration which in turn promotes better management especially self-management of goals. Creating an autonomous self-managing workforce that works as a collective team to achieve goals will surely maximize the strategic goal attainment of any organization.
Set less to accomplish more – by setting fewer strategic goals you empower your organization to be more focused and better aligned.
Adopt a goal setting framework that everyone follows and understand - set objectives and identify the key results that will determine the attainment of each objective. By setting clear milestones, everyone can understand what constitutes progress and ultimately success. Well structured goals using proven goal setting frameworks such as OKRs is critical to improve clarity and the ability to measure progress.
Adopt technology to keep goals, progress and success visible across the organization. Strategic goals will require cooperation across departments and thus transparency is critical to collaboration and ultimately management of each individual and organizational goal.
Focus on goal attainment not performance. It’s the goal not the role is the critical way of thinking where people are not worried about repercussions on personal attainment. Focus is more on goal attainment as a team and less about individual’s performance and reward.
Organizational change can be met with resistance no matter how simplified it may be. Taking an incremental simplified approach to deploying the change will make a significant difference in adoption at every level of the organization.
Strategy is typically developed at an executive and senior management level often including the masterminds of the organization. Not only is the strategy fully understood but the circumstances and reasoning that formulated that strategy are also known and will be helpful in the implementation of the strategy.
It only stands to reason that this group leads the adoption of the new strategy execution approach. Leading by example will not only demonstrate the organizations commitment to the new approach but also instill confidence in the strategy and goals that were set by each leader. This initial group takes the strategic goals and breaks them down into quarterly OKR deliverables that are synchronized to each other to ensure that dependencies and timelines all work harmoniously. Once phase I is completed, the leadership team can communicate not only their strategic plan but their new strategic OKRs. Capturing and presenting the OKRs in a easy to use platform that creates visibility and encourages collaboration will be a powerful message of change.
With a successful quarter the leadership team can ask the next level of management to jump on board. The incremental adoption approach creates a strong example of how it will work while also creating a large group of champions to lead it across the entire organization. Isn’t that what leaders do?