It is one thing to develop a top business strategy and quite another to see that strategy effectively executed. Simply view this glaring figure from Fortune Magazine, which recently stated that "less than 10% of strategies effectively formulated are effectively executed."
As this statistic easily shows, organizations too often fall within the majority rather than the minority when it comes to strategy execution. Many strategic plans are doomed during the initial stages of development because they lack foresight or fail to incorporate all areas of operations. And even if a strategic business plan is well-developed, seeing it out requires at least as much or even more dedication.
Like anything in the business world, strategy implementation requires persistence, patience and flexibility among many other things. With the everyday demands that come with running a business and performing your own work tasks, it is quite easy for strategy realization to fall by the wayside. With that said, it is absolutely crucial that organizations which take the time to develop strategies do not fall into this trap when aiming for successful execution.
If implementation has proven itself to be so difficult, what can management teams do to better ensure success? Enterprise Strategy Execution (ESE) is a proven methodology to follow when aiming to develop business strategies which will incorporate your entire workforce, enact changes and improve results.
So what exactly is Enterprise Strategy Execution? ESE empowers every employee toward a common strategy by focusing on a continual process of prioritization, improvement and control. In other words, ESE solidifies your workforce towards contributing to the development and implementation of a successful strategy via these three important parameters.
So what is intended to happen during the three different areas of this process? Your entire organization plans and deploys strategic objectives during prioritization, while employees and management continually seek to fix performance gaps in the most critical areas throughout improvement and subsequently lock-in on improvement gains during control.
While a description of what occurs during these three inter-related areas is fine-and-dandy, figuring out their physical implementation as it relates to your organization is much more important. In other words, what tools would your business need to effectively approach these areas?
Strategy Mapping, Balanced Scorecards, Baldridge Assignments, Key Performance Indicators, Management by Objectives and structured problem solving are the essential tools necessary for ESE. Essentially, these tools provide your organization with a framework to approach strategy execution by focusing on an assortment of areas which are often forgotten or never even considered during the initial stages of strategic development. When viewed separately and combined together, these tools provide a holistic analysis of your organization and its room for changes and improvements.
So how does an organization get to ESE? This process is called the Strategy Execution Evolution, which includes these steps:
• Exposure and Epiphany – where a critical organizational need creates an impetus for change (an epiphany)
• Executive Buy-in & Support – where additional leadership approval is gained to continue the focus on strategy realization
• Strategic Planning & Mapping – where a strategic plan lays out the short- and long-term direction for the organization, and a strategy map distills the strategic plan into a simple, visual depiction of this year's plan
• Top-Level Balanced Scorecard – where this tool is utilized to summarize the organization's top objectives stemming from the Strategic Planning Process
• Cascading Balanced Scorecards – where your organization further builds from the foundation of the Balanced Scorecard by creating organizational linkages and alignment by "cascading" or crafting related yet customized scorecards from top to bottom, and horizontally as well
• Performance Improvement – where your organization identifies the root causes of performance gaps and then executes an improvement initiative to permanently remove that root cause
• Scorecard Business Reviews – where holistic reviews are conducted to elicit buy-in at all levels, focus improvement initiatives and facilitate business results
• Process Management – where leading measures are identified, performance or process improvements are locked-in, and all information needed to manage the business process successfully and predictably are identified
• Employee Goal and Compensation Management – where employees develop personal goals which articulate the organization's exact expectations for each employee
• Budget Integration – where implementation is truly integrated with the day-to-day business operations and their financial foundations.
As you can see, the Strategy Execution Evolution is a long process which must be approached in steps. Trying to tackle all of these stages at once is not feasible and rather foolish since strategy implementation requires the continual development of new skills and behaviors. Most importantly, it requires eagerness, desire and dedication to enact organizational changes, regardless of how much work is required.
About the Author
In 2000, Jack Steele co-founded ActiveStrategy, Inc., which was the first organization in the world dedicated to developing and deploying enterprise-wide software for corporations seeking to harness the power of strategy execution. Learn more at http://www.activestrategy.com
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