How to stay ‘on-strategy’ – 5 tips for success!

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If defining successful strategy isn’t challenging enough for most businesses, then implementing the strategy and staying true to it – beingHow to stay ‘on-strategy’ – 5 tips for success ‘on-strategy’ – is another challenge in itself.

I’ve been involved in defining and implementing many different types of strategy over the last 20 years. Here are some solid success tips informed by my experience:

1. Have a clearly defined strategy

In its absence, strategy should not be assumed. Many businesses I have met have clearly defined plans but there’s a complete lack of strategy and vision. Vision and strategy seem to be assumed. In reality, if it’s not in black and white, it doesn’t exist. Given that strategy is about how the business will focus on achieving the vision and high level goals, then without it, it’s anyone’s guess whether that will ever happen at all.

2. Bring it alive

For a business to stay on the strategy, the essential starting point is that everyone in the business needs to understand it. Then they need to know where they fit in and the role they play in making it happen. So, the strategy needs to be brought alive in a simple and succinct way. With businesses I work with, we do this on one page. It works every time.  People need to relate to it, so in addition to featuring the key outcomes of the strategy in numbers and words, bring it alive visually. This helps to make it real and more relevant.

3. Belief

Establishing and maintaining genuine belief in the strategy throughout the business is critical to its adoption and success. Without belief, it’s difficult for a business to stay on course, be ‘on’, not ‘off’ the strategy.

Time spent up front in winning the hearts and minds of those who will implement the strategy, is an essential pre-requisite to establishing belief. Working with them to overcome issues in its implementation, will cement that belief, if not, it could be undermined early on. Reinforcing belief through results helps maintain commitment. Recognition that implementing the strategy is a ‘better way to work’, helps to embed the strategy within the business.

4. Test against the rubber wall!

Use it to prioritise. Strategy is about choices. Choosing what to do and what not to do when it comes to priorities and use of company resources. So, if opportunities arise and they don’t fit the strategy, then the discussion around whether they should be considered will be short. Opportunities that fit the strategy should be considered but opportunities that don’t fit, should by definition, bounce-off the rubber wall, protecting the focus of business resources. That’s just one role that strategy plays in a business – clarity of prioritisation – protecting the focus.

5. Measure and report progress

How will you know whether the strategy works and why it’s working or not working unless there’s a process in place to track and report the performance of its key indicators?

‘Success breeds success’ – Success will likely encourage further commitment to delivering the strategy.  Falling short of expectations will likely undermine confidence in it, with obvious implications. So, it’ll be more difficult to stay on-strategy it it’s falling short, because commitment to turn it around, is likely to be lower.

In this situation, people may revert to the ‘way we used to do things here’ and indirectly sabotage the strategy, through all good intentions, the need to deliver good results. This is when it becomes even more important to communicate why the results under the new strategy are falling short and what needs to be done to get back on track. If this is not done, belief will fall away and an uphill battle to deliver the strategy starts.

So what?

We all know that strategy is nothing unless it focuses the business on achieving the agreed performance goals. A great strategy needs to have the chance of succeeding.  In the early days of implementation, it might appear not to work but that doesn’t mean that it can’t work and be successful for the business.

So, why not ask yourself, where are the opportunities to refocus and fine-tune the implementation of your strategies? Why not call us on 01306 400077 for a fresh perspective?




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