A good friend of mine, Robin Speculand, recently spoke to our Financial Services Club in London about implementation.
It was a popular night, primarily because implementing strategy is really difficult. In fact, coming up with a good strategy in the first place is a major challenge then, having got a strategy, getting the organisation behind the strategy and implementing the darned thing is even harder. Yet, according to Robin’s annual survey of organisations, most companies are engaged in developing new strategies and four out of five people believe their company are good at developing new strategies … but the majority of people think they are bad at implementing strategies.
This is where Robin’s company specialises and so I asked Robin to write a blog about it for the Finanser’s readers. Here’s his guest blog entry:
Today in business, leaders are habitually underestimating the challenge of strategy implementation and as such nine out of ten strategy implementations fail.
Far too many leaders can more easily recall an implementation that failed than one that succeeded. It is time to correct this by putting the spotlight on implementation.
You can have the greatest strategy in the world but if you cannot implement it then it is no more value than the paper it is written on.
One of the largest contributing factors to the high number of failed implementations is that when leaders return to their offices after creating their challenge, they are commonly left on their own to work out how to implement it. They must figure out how to inform the people in their division of the imminent changes; explain what needs to change and why; review the way the team is working and the current rewards and recognition to ensure it supports the new strategy; motivate their people; assess the current measures being used and report back to their peers. It is a multitude of activities that creates a maze that many leaders become lost in. What they need is a compass to guide them through this implementation challenge.
After 12 years of research and testing with leaders around the world, Bridges Business Consultancy International (the company I work for) developed the Implementation Compass, a tool that provides a structure for strategy to come alive.
Below is a description of the eight areas for excellence in execution that make up the Implementation Compass and key questions leaders should consider before embarking on their implementation journey.
Eight Areas for Excellence in Execution
It is not leadership that implements strategy but people
Questions to consider: Do you have the right calibre of people? Do they have the competencies to execute the new strategy? Are they motivated to do so?
2. Biz Case
Create a sense of urgency through the emotional and numerical rational for adopting the strategy
Questions to consider: Why is the strategy centre stage? Do your staff members know what to do differently on the Monday morning after implementation is announced? Do they have the right tools and techniques to implement the strategy?
People can only adopt a strategy if they know about it and understand it
Questions to consider: Do all your staff know what the new strategy is and why it has been adopted? Is the strategy communicated in a way that it comes alive? Do you provide on-going communication?
Change your strategy, change your measures as you get what you measure
Questions to consider: Do you have the right measures for the new strategy? Are the measures being leveraged to guide the implementation? Are the measures driving the right behaviours?
You must change the day-to-day activities of your staff members and have a culture that support and fosters change
Questions to consider: What needs to change in the fundamental way you are working so as to encourage the adoption of the new culture? Are we using the language of the new strategy?
There must be congruence between what you say you are going to do (strategy implementation) and what you are doing (the process)
Questions to consider: Do your processes support or hinder the new strategy? Where can you redesign the process so it is more supportive and effective? What should you “stop” doing?
You must reinforce the expected behaviours so that they are continuously repeated
Questions to consider: When staff members step in to the unknown and demonstrate the new behaviours, are they recognized and rewarded? Does the reinforcement encourage them to continue to demonstrate the desired new behaviours?
The weakest of the eight points among leaders – you must constantly review to make sure the right actions are being taken to deliver the right results
Questions to consider: Do you know if the actions being taken are producing the right results? Do you know what has been learned from the implementation in the last 90 days? Do you know what you need to start doing differently from today?
Robin Speculand is Chief Executive of Bridges Business Consultancy International having previously worked for Citibank in Asia. He is a bestselling author, and his latest book is Beyond Strategy – The Leader’s Role in Successful Implementation. Robin is also a masterful event facilitator and an engaging keynote speaker. Visit www.strategyimplementationblog.com