7 Steps to Successful Strategy and Implementation video transcript

Developing a strategy for your organisation is one of the most important things you as an organisation can undertake and yet it's one of those things that so often strategy fails and it fails for a couple of reasons. It’s partly that organisations don’t understand how to correct formulate a strategy or they fail to execute it effectively.

Why is strategy important?

Well there’s 3 key reasons as to why strategy is important and the first of those is that it really helps an organisation take the time to get a sense of how its performing. What are its key capabilities? Are those capabilities the capabilities they need to progress into the future? What are the weaknesses in the organisation? What do they need to look at and remedy and what are the new capabilities they need to build in order to stay relevant into the future? Gives an organisation an opportunity to get a sense of how its performing, getting a sense of how they’re performing internally but also how they are performing within the industry against their competitors but also against the broader business community. And finally, gives them a sense of the risks – what sort of risks are out there that could affect their future growth and how are they going to be able to address those risks?

The second reason is that a strategy allows an organisation to identify the opportunities for growth in the future. What is going out there in the broader market space? What are the changes that are happening whether they be political changes, social changes or technological changes and looking at social media and this is a changing paradigm in terms of communications – how can organisations look at those changes and mitigate the risk and find ways to grow. How can they look to grow, develop performance and sustainability for the future?

And thirdly it creates a vision and a direction for the whole organisation. It’s important that all members of the team understand what the direction of an organisation is and their role in it. When you don’t have a strategy, its akin to putting your staff out into a desert to follow mirages in search of water. When staff don’t know what the direction of the organisation is, they’ll fly all over the place in search of some sort of answer and most of the activities they’ll undertake will not be correct. Having a vision ensures that everyone is clear about a goal and that everyone is following the direction of the organisation.

Why strategy fails?

There’s 3 key reasons why strategy fails and the first one is formulation. If an organisation is approaching its strategy planning its strategic planning with the idea that this is about ticking off a box then its failed before its even started. When we see organisations that fail to commit correctly to really setting about setting up a strategic direction for the organisation, chances are that its all going to end up in the draw of the chief executives office and its probably where it belongs because its wrong.

The second reason strategy fails is that these strategies, ideas and directions for the future are developed but the organisation operations, its structure, its technological structure, its human resources structure aren’t aligned with what that strategy is, so it becomes locked when it meets with the actual organisational processes.

And the third reason is that it fails to execute because the organisation has failed to get the engagement of staff and stakeholders to deliver on the strategy. If strategy is developed just by the executive team and then they just the expect the staff to follow through, that’s when they’re going have resistance and if you’ve got staff resisting the change that comes with strategy then your strategy has failed from the outset.

7 steps to successful strategy

So there’s 7 ways which an organisation can go about developing a winning strategy.

The first one is engage the right people. Now the obvious thing is to engage the executive team and that’s important. But it’s really worth it if when you’re trying to get a strategy across an organisation, look at the other important people in your organisation, who are the other people in your organisation who influence the culture, who have influence across different departments and groups and bring those people on-board. Not only will they be able to really clearly give you information about what’s happening across the organisation they will be fundamental in helping you actually execute that strategy.

Secondly create the right environment. Don’t have a strategy day in the board room in the organisation, we all know what happens when we do that, seeing your executives all get pulled away to attend to an urgent phone call or attend an urgent meeting or put out some sort of spot fire – give it the credit that its due, take it offsite, give it a good couple of days where everyone’s on-board and focused just on the development of that strategy. Also accept the messy bits. Strategy, when you first get started, those first few hours are messy, that’s part of the process. Accept it for what it is. Don’t start getting angry and stressed and like you want to get out of it. Just accept it as part of the process and know that as you keep working through, that strategy becomes more and more refined and becomes clearer for all. Also give it the time for formulation. A strategy is never going to formulate over a couple of days. You need to get strategy from the organisational strategic plan right the way through to performance plans of individuals. So give it a good few months so that you can get it right. And finally, don’t go leaving things to outside experts to do. Things like focus groups are absolutely critical for you to understand what’s going on out there in the marketplace and what’s important for your organisation. No research company is going to know your organisation or your marketplace or your products like you do. Attend focus groups and listen because you’ll find some of the priceless moments, the great information that’s out there in the marketplace are what you will find and not a third party.

Thirdly, broaden your scope. Look beyond just competitive strategy. This is one of the key principles around blue ocean strategy which is one of the new international benchmarks in strategic planning. And what it says is that when we look at just traditional strategy which is based on competitor strategy, we start limiting our growth and profit opportunities. So look broader, look across your industries, look across the marketplace and even across time to broaden your view of the world because when we develop plans based on the assumptions of competitive thinking, we can often find that our ideas are outdated or even wrong.

Fourthly, create business goals and objectives that are realistic, achievable and measurable. What you are looking to do must meet with your organisation and its capabilities. If we fail on these 3 points then we’ve failed in the strategy before we’ve even got started. Ensure your companies structure and processes facilitate rather than hinder the delivery of your strategy. Make sure that when you develop your strategy, you then have the processes of the organisation from its technology to its human resources, the organisational structure actually are designed in a way that help you to deliver on that strategy. There’s 2 modes of thought around this. One is that strategy should meet the way that your organisation’s designed. I tend to prefer it the other way round because when you create strategies just for the way its already designed, you’re already limiting yourself to the way you’ve been in the past. If you develop strategy and then bring the organisation online with that you will facilitate growth and sustainability.

Create a clear course of action. Your delivery doesn’t finish with the delivery of the strategic plan, every plan across every department should meet in with the strategic plan, all the way through to the performance plans of each individual. Every business unit, every individual should be part of delivering on the future direction of your organisation. If there is an activity taking place that isn’t a part of that get rid of it, it’s draining your organisation of blood.

Finally and probably most importantly, is to communicate your strategy across the organisation. This is the most critical point because this is where most strategy fails because while it may have been well formulated, its failed to engage the rest of the organisation. So its critical that every individual needs to understand what the organisational vision is, what the organisation needs to undertake, how it needs to change in order to make that strategic vision and what the role is of every individual in delivering on that strategy. Ensure that each individual knows their role and is measured and evaluated in clear alignment with the strategic goals.

So when we engage these 7 principles, when we commit to it, when we properly formulate and execute our strategies, we really position ourselves for the future. We ensure that our organisation is capable to grow both now and into the future.

7 Steps to Successful Strategy and Implementation video

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