When companies decide to launch a major new product development effort or build a significant new manufacturing plant they assign a dedicated project leader to make sure everything that needs to get done is listed, tracked and reported on. If the project is important enough, the project leader will even have a staff of people forming a project management office to make sure things get done.
Yet, when it comes to implementing strategy companies seem to have a different management model. A model that often fails to provide adequate resources to make sure that strategy gets implemented.
The CEO is supposed to be the driver of strategy, yet they have full time jobs that divert their attention from the task of managing strategy implementation. They have to understand and sign off on financials, they are the voice of the company to the capital markets, they have to visit customers, worry about making the organization effective, communicate with employees, manage legal issues, work to keep their broad of directors up to date and a long list of other responsibilities that only the top executive can handle. On top of that long list, companies often add the responsibility for managing strategy implementation.
Strategy implementation is the largest and most important project in any company and all too often an under-managed project.
Managing strategy implementation requires focus, time and attention to making sure things are getting done. The same best practices used to manage important projects can be applied to managing strategy and greatly improve strategy execution.
- Adequately staff strategy management
- Make goals and expectation clear
- Break down big goals into achievable milestones
- Decide responsibilities
- Get commitments for results
- Track and communicate progress
- Hold people accountable for results and for asking for help when needed
While the CEO must be involved in many of these steps they don’t have to do it alone. Providing adequate staff resources to make sure all of the best practices get implemented can greatly improve the CEO’s ability to provide the leadership the organization needs.
The strategy management staff requires special qualities that may be tough to find inside some organizations.
There are three types of help that you should consider looking for:
- Expertise that can bring together knowledge and information from different parts of the organization and facilitate a process that builds strategy from within
- A trusted resource who can leverage the CEO’s time by managing the logistics of the strategy execution process
- Someone who can and will hold the CEO accountable for making sure the organization executes
You can find such resources either within or outside your organization, depending on your willingness to let someone who works for you hold your feet to the fire, and their willingness to take the risk.
Getting the right resource is vital to improving the quality of execution and one of the best investments any company can make.