Execute That Strategy!

May 12, 2015

GolferAll the gear and no idea is an observation often made of golfers and no doubt competitors in many other sports.

As a golfer, I like to buy the latest golf clubs, clothes and gizmos most of which are a waste of money in getting me around the course in the lowest score that befits my handicap.  A better investment would be lessons to improve my swing, but that involves changing old habits, practice and learning new skills.  Much easier to buy the latest hit it further club!

“Our problem is not about the strategy itself…but our execution of it.” Tony Hayward CEO BP-10/2007 – BP Sets Out its Agenda to Close Performance Gap with Rivals

Golfers also complain of inconsistency, the ability to put all elements of the game together and to improve year on year.  What amateurs also forget is a game plan that links a strategy for improvement, with golfing skills and abilities.

This is no different from an organisation’s ability to link their strategic objectives with a game plan to achieve them.  Organisation’s usually have all the gear in terms of KPIs, smart goals, vision and mission statements, performance reviews and 1-2-1 meetings.   However, they usually have  no idea in terms of pulling it all together with a process that consistently and systemically links together the strategy with the implementation elements.  These implementation elements being the individuals that do the work.

If your organisation has no idea, then you are far from alone as “…surveys over the past two decades indicate that 60-80% of companies fall far short of the targets expressed in their strategic plans” Kaplan & Norton – The Execution Premium.   Kaplan & Norton’s research also shows that companies using a formal system for implementing strategy consistently outperform their peers.  The result of having no idea is to fail, year on year, to achieve the strategic objectives and realise the benefits of enhanced capabilities and improved financial performance. This perennial failure to bridge the gap between strategy and execution becomes an implicit acceptance of failure, resulting in organisations not expecting to achieve their strategic objectives.

So what can be done to play consistently and improve your handicap?

The first thing is to recognise that you need help in developing strategy execution management as a core competency of the organisation.  Why should you be any good at it if you have not been trained and taken lessons from the pro?  – Far easier to avoid any change and carry-on with the old habits of failure.

Strategy Execution Management is a process, driven by the leadership team, that engages personnel at all levels so that they understand the strategy, their part in achieving it and what is expected of them.  Managers discuss these expectations with their subordinates for inclusion in a performance agreement.  It is key that individuals produce their own performance agreements and they are not written and imposed on them by their managers.  Performance Agreements integrate the day job activities with the goals and new activities required to support the strategic initiatives.  The goals describe what success and failure looks like and the strategic initiatives that they support.

These Performance Agreements provide the basis for management of an individual’s performance.  This management is done through regular (6-12 times a year) progress meetings held between a manager and subordinate, to evaluate performance and progress in achieving the goals.  The role of the manager is to help an individual to be successful in their day job and deliver the goals.  This is a joint enterprise and so may identify areas of weak performance requiring additional support or training. As progress meetings are held on a regular basis, the reasons for under-performance can be dealt with while there is still time to do something about it.

Pulling it all together needs a structured process and system support, which is why BluePlate Consulting has complemented their business architecting approach by being appointed the UK partner for the KeyneLink Strategy Execution Management system that has been successfully implemented in over 700 clients in North America over the past 15 years.  Keynelink is part process and part roadmap with cloud based system support. Talk to your pro Jeff Herman at BluePlate Consulting.