Five steps to get your strategy back on track
All too often, strategies are created and launched to great fanfare, only to fall by the wayside. Day-to-day work causes the “perfect” strategy to turn into an archived PowerPoint deck, lost in the shuffle among urgent issues. Nearly three out of four change efforts fall short of desired results. As most leaders know, executing strategies that are sustainable and have the potential to deliver Positive Impact – the intentional creation and measurement of enduring social and economic value - is easier said than done. After decades of experience, Palladium have developed a five step approach to help you achieve your strategic goals.
Why do well-designed strategies fail? Often an organisation will communicate its strategy as a list of priorities, without providing a bigger picture of success. While organisations around the world have made strides towards sustainable growth and social contribution, many still struggle to measure that contribution and put the good work done into a long-term growth strategy. Only by explaining the cause-and-effect logic of your strategy will you avoid confusion or conflicting strategic priorities. Strategy plays a vital part in delivering Positive Impact and the below five steps can help a company get there.
Step one: Redefine success
Before you can assess what has caused your strategy to derail, work together with your team to reassess and redefine your vision, or your idea of success, so you’re on the same page. Everyone in the organisation needs to understand what they’re aiming for. Quantifiable and time bound visions are the most effective at getting everyone on the same page. Metrics for measuring economic and social value creation might seem difficult to define, but they are vitally important. It is easy to agree on the need to solve a problem, but much harder to agree on exactly what to measure and how. Regular reporting on performance and impact measures are critical for building trust and commitment within partnerships, improving cost-effectiveness, and focusing on outcomes (e.g. the real problem). For example, a school’s vision to “Cut dropout rate in half by 2020” is clearer than, “Help our students succeed.”
Step two: Diagnose your strategy
Now that your team agrees on what success looks like, ask yourselves - why did things go off-track? Maybe the leader’s idea of the vision differs from the team’s interpretations. Whatever the case, assess who the key decision makers are and work together to identify and understand how any roadblocks can be overcome. Successful organisations know that results come from staying flexible and changing course to get your strategy back on track.
Step three: Prioritise your strategy
It’s time to deconstruct your vision into manageable parts. Write your team’s vision and identify every element that needs to occur to achieve your goals (see below for the Driver Model Example). Then, look at these elements, take them down to a more granular level, and repeat. Eventually, you’ll arrive at actions specific enough for people to focus their efforts to change.
Once you have completed your Driver Model, now comes the fun (and hard) part: prioritisation. On each level of your driver model, have the team vote on which is the most important action to pursue. Once you have reached a reasonable number of priorities, they will eventually inform which initiatives you’ll scope and resource.
Step four: Create charters and identify resources for initiatives
After you’ve selected priorities, consider the details behind each of your potential initiatives. What exactly is the scope of this initiative? What high-level milestones do you need to hit and by when? Most importantly, define how much money and who specifically should be working on this.
Don’t let your strategy fall off track because you’ve decided to pursue several initiatives that all stretch the resources of the same team member or department. Remember: a fundamental resource in a Positive Impact organisation is its people. Assign one person from the leadership team to be accountable for the project. This process should leave you with a simple, sequenced, and distinct set of initiatives, eventually to be managed together as a portfolio.
Step five: Schedule the first review and stay on track
Now that each project has one person assigned to it, agree on a goal or milestone to hit within 30 days. After 30 days, come back together and review the strategy. Look at progress against these quantifiable goals: do you need to make changes or are you still on track? Do some actions need more support or resources? What needs to be achieved in the next 30 days to maintain progress? Reviewing initiatives on a monthly, or even bi-weekly basis is a crucial tool for keeping your strategy on track and achieving sustainable outcomes.
To see results from strategic planning, organisations must agree on their vision, be truly aligned on priorities and allocate the right resources to generate traction and results. In today’s climate, stakeholders demand more of organisations: you must execute your goals and increasingly demonstrate a tangible Positive Impact to ensure success. If you think your priorities have gone astray, following these five steps will get you back on track
For more information about our strategy execution services visit our Strategy Capabilities page or email Caleb Powers (Caleb.Powers@thepalladiumgroup.com).