How are you doing executing the strategy your executives prepared last Fall? Nobody could imagine the world would change to the extent that it did since then. Was that strategy a waste? No. What is the best advice for getting excellent at strategy execution in today’s world?
Is there a way to tease-out innovation and execute something even better than you imagined?
Yes. There is more opportunity today to innovatively execute a strategy than ever before.
In my 30 years as a transformational business leader, I found that executing a strategy is a combination of recognizing strengths, leveraging what you are good at, grit, teamwork, and focus. Leaders that apply my advice will execute their strategy and deliver results – no matter how crazy your job becomes.
Keep It Simple
The most powerful business strategy will fit on a single page. Keep your plan simple with no more than three to five strategic imperatives. The fewer, the better your focus. A strategic imperative is a clearly stated change or goal for your business. (This is the point that some will get caught up in the semantics of goals vs. objectives vs. imperatives. It’s tempting but a waste of energy.)
What’s Your One Thing?
Ask yourself, “What is the one thing that takes the least effort and will create the biggest results?” Your answer is your one thing. Your one thing must be one of the 3 -5 strategic imperatives. If it is not, you have the wrong imperatives.
Knowing your one thing is gold because you will repeatedly communicate it, focus on it, and get it done.
Translate Strategy Into Actions
Start with your one thing and brainstorm the critical activities that will move you towards achieving that one thing. Break these actions into 30-day increments and build in milestones. Utilize your team to identify what steps they must take within the next 30 days to move forward towards our one thing? Write them down. Identify what resources you and your team need? Who owns each action? What is the target date to complete the action item? Go through this same exercise for at least a rolling four-month period of time.
Build-in multiple points where you reassess your strategic one thing, actions taken, and the results. Check-points provide you the agility you and your team need to make necessary course corrections early on.
Add Action Items to Your Calendar
Now that you have clear actions outlined that will move you towards achieving your one thing add these actions into your schedule. Translating actions into calendar items shows where you may have conflicts and enables you to resolve them in advance. Moving action items into the calendar removes part of the angst about staying on top of the strategy. You have more freedom and confidence to innovate and focus.
As a leader, including team member action items in your calendar and the advanced check-in dates. How are they progressing? What support would they like? These check-ins create focused strategic and tactical conversations with the team. I enjoy asking the group to rate our progress every quarter. They always respond with honesty.
Executing a strategy requires accountability. When you utilize our team in creating the action items, and they share information about who owns what they are doing individually and collectively. Those check-in times you built into the calendar become coaching times.
The momentum you create, focusing on your one thing becomes infectious. Progress and achievement generate clarity and the desire to add action items for the other strategic imperatives. It’s a controlled snowball effect that usually begins within 90 days of progress on the one thing.
Are these steps innovative? Yes, as a leader that consistently executes a strategy, you now have focused, creative energy. I challenge you to apply this advice as you plan for your business’ future. You will join the ranks of the few leaders that execute strategy – guaranteed.
Check out more blog posts for information about strategic planning and execution.