Devising business strategies is complex – but much easier to do than implementing the strategy. Strategy implementation in businesses entails addressing broad cross-organization issues – like organizational framework, culture, communications flow, and lines of responsibility. This article explores a few of the key factors that can make or break the successful implementation of a business strategy. It looks at where businesses have succeeded – and failed – in their strategy implementation – and what they can do to improve chances of success.
This is the third of a series of four articles on the subject of strategy implementation, where we explore the dynamics and challenges of taking a strategy through the implementation stage. This article, Part 3 in the series, Strategy Implementation in Businesses, focuses on the complexities of structuring and managing a business in a new strategic direction. Part 1 looks at Strategy Implementation on Programs – where a subset of the strategy is implemented in a broad but well-defined initiative. Part 2, Strategy Implementation on Projects, looks at the challenges of timing, tying back to strategy, and measuring progress and effectiveness. Finally, Part 4, Strategy Implementation in Government, dives into the unique problems of implementing strategies within a government organization.
If you examine a number of ‘war stories’ on strategic implementation in business, a few common themes emerge. Experience has shown that the following are among the most important considerations.
- Develop Strategy Collaboratively – Strategy formulation needs to involve those who will implement the strategy. This helps to ensure buy in and ownership across the organization and facilitates accountability down the line when the strategy is implemented. This will reduce decision-making blockages and inconsistencies in decisions.
- Metrics on Underlying Assumptions – When facts supporting the assumptions change, strategic objectives may be impacted. To keep pace with changes, monitors need to be put in place for changes in the underlying assumptions. It is equally important to ensure that the information about these changes gets to the right people so that the organization can react quickly.
- Optimize Information Flow – The organization can only move as fast as the information can flow. Thus, lines of authority need to be clear, and decision-making needs to be close to where the effects are felt. A balance needs to be struck between central control and monitoring versus distributed control and accountability. Accountability and control need to be harmonized and consistent.
- Support Projects and Programs with Authority – Projects and programs need to be sponsored and supported by executives with a level of authority that will enable the successful execution. It will also help keep the projects and programs aligned with strategic objectives.
- Plan Effective Transitions – It needs to be clear when a program and project achieve their strategic objectives – and when control can be turned over to operational business units. This is the final step in strategic implementation that brings the strategic value into the business.
The common thread is ownership and accountability, where managers consistently take responsibility for decisions and actions to keep the organization on track toward strategic objectives.
What areas need attention in your organization to help facilitate effective strategy implementation in business?
This Post is Part of the Series: Strategy Implementation
This is a series of four articles on the subject of strategy implementation, where we explore the dynamics and challenges of taking a strategy through the implementation stage.