Organizations are trapped in the same-old strategic planning process of lengthy analysis, subject matter expert presentations, and application of theoretical strategy-building precepts promulgated by consultants and academics.
What theoretically makes sense rarely works in the real world where people, technology, changing priorities, regulations and the unpredictable all collide in a “perfect storm”.
I come from the practical side of business.
I believe that if you can’t execute the strategy in a world of imperfection, the strategy is useless. After all, results are more interesting than the theoretical pristineness of the plan and the extent to which it conforms to pedantic norms. So, how can company leaders move that strategy into the actual achievement of these strategic goals?
7 Ways of Thinking Differently to Achieve Strategic Goals
1. Spend 20 percent of your time on WHAT you want to achieve; 80 percent on HOW you intend to achieve it. Execution detail is generally given the short shrift. For some reason leaders assume they can pronounce a new strategy to the organization and miraculously it will get implemented. Nonsense. The granularity of your implementation plan will determine your success.
2. Get comfortable with imperfection. We have this phobia about getting the strategy perfect. We spend an additional 4 weeks of planning time trying to make it more “perfect”.
It’s a ridiculous notion for two reasons: first there is no such thing as a perfect anything —so stop trying to chase the illusion; second, as soon as your strategy is put to bed, it’s obsolete as unpredicted environmental events are felt.
3. A strategy really understood is one that can be broken down into a handful of objectives intended to successfully execute it. An action plan with 25 things to do suggests that the team that created the strategy doesn’t clearly understand it well enough to focus on the critical few actions necessary as opposed to the many possible actions that could be taken.
Focus on the MUST, not the POSSIBLE, when setting out to achieve strategic goals.
4. Beware of the “yummy incoming”. Yummy is my way of describing over-the-transom demand that might be fun to chase, but its off-strategy. Ignore off-strategy demands on your time and resources; you can’t afford them.
Stay on strategy and have the guts to turn away “opportunities” that suck you dry.
5. Establish role clarity for everyone in the organization in terms of what they have to do execute these strategic goals flawlessly. Dysfunction occurs when direct line of sight for people hasn’t been defined and included in performance plans.
6. Cut the Crap! Stop doing the unnecessary so you can execute the necessary. It’s impossible to take on “the new” when you won’t let go of the old.
You don’t need more resources; you need to get rid of stuff that may have had relevance yesterday but not today.
7. Kill the “dumb rules” that make your customers and employees “go nuts”. Customers won’t engage with stupid policies in their face which frustrate them when they engage with you. Cleanse your inside with policies made to control customers; free them to transact with you on their terms.
Bottom line: to achieve strategic goals, you’ve got to hone your focus to putting in the actual work that makes having a strategy worthwhile. Stop planning, and start doing!
The original version of this article was first published on Future of Work.