Strategic execution depends on many important relationships, interdependent variables, decisions and actions to achieve success.
This is the theme of a new executive briefing session, Bridging Strategy and Project Execution for Organisational Alignment and Success which takes place on Thursday 5th May from 9.30am to 2.30pm in Central London.
In this article we take a look at the following factors which should help organisations raise their chances of executing their strategy in order to realise their business goals and objectives:
1. Formulate an effective strategic plan aligned with organisational objectives
Formulating plans that determine what needs to be done in order to drive the business forward is the basis of strategic execution.
An effective strategic plan should be formulated by analysing the competitive environment in which the organisation operates and be based on seizing the opportunities that differentiate it in the marketplace.
However, a good strategy will only work if there is a solid execution plan in place to deliver it – with everyday actions set out that are aligned with that plan.
Having the ways and means in place to grasp opportunities and make operational decisions to quickly turn them into actions, will help produce concrete results.
The plan therefore needs to be flexible in order to respond to any changes that occur within the marketplace.
2. Ensure decisions are made by the right people
It is crucial that all managers understand their roles and responsibilities with regard to the strategy – as well as which decisions are theirs to make.
There needs to be a decision-making process in place, so that there is no doubt about who is responsible and accountable for each decision, before any action can begin.
Everyone in the organisation should be able to feed into the decision-making process, allowing better informed decisions to be made, based on what will distinguish the organisation from its competitors.
3. Put in place a system of portfolio management
Portfolio management is the implementation of high-level business strategy through integrated projects.
These projects have been identified as the greatest source of value and contribution to the strategic interests of the organisation, and, when put in place alongside usual business operations to achieve specific goals, are the building blocks for achieving successful strategic execution.
A high-performing Project Management Office (PMO) can help drive strategies forward by maintaining the health of the project portfolio and promoting the projects that meet budget goals and produce business value.
PMO practitioners can also help project teams understand the organisation’s strategic goals, and most importantly, equip them with the tools to deliver projects and programmes aligned with these goals.
4. Invest in the right talent and resources to ensure projects succeed
A workforce made up of talented and motivated individuals is a huge advantage when executing strategy, particularly if the project practitioners understand the strategies, have the skills and talent to implement them and are motivated to do so.
Portfolio and programme managers need to have the necessary business and leadership skills to implement business strategy, improve project performance and increase portfolio effectiveness.
Project managers need to have a clear idea of the longer term goals and strategies of their projects, feel confident to challenge accepted ways of working in the interests of improving business success and, ultimately, develop into more senior and strategic positions.
On a resource level there needs to be competency and capabilities assessment, adequate recruiting, the development of project managers and business analysts through training and better use of the resources there are.
5. Ensure the departments responsible for talent development have respect and support
Talent managers who are responsible for the training and development of portfolio, programme and project managers can better assess capabilities, successfully recruit or retain talent based on gaps it needs to fill (externally or through internal training and development) and track and measure the outcomes.
The Human Resource department (HR) is perfectly placed to facilitate the hiring of talent in line with organisational goals and move the right talent into the right place.
As long as they understand the business requirements and the broader strategic impact of their role, HR members can drive goals and objectives down to employees and develop the next generation of top managers.
HR can also deploy solutions that will increase personal performance, address the talent shortage, manage the training and work with business units to improve employee performance.
6. Optimise a culture of execution
Culture is built on a foundation of leadership behaviours, with flexibility to change and communication being the most important characteristics in support of strategy execution.
Organisational strategy should be communicated effectively as a set of strategic goals, with each goal assigned, resourced and actioned as a project or programme designed to carry out the strategy.
Other cultural behaviours needed include setting timelines and benefits for achieving the goals; quickly responding and adapting to changes; enabling business units to work with each other and providing flexible processes and structures to empower employees.
When it comes to innovation, a culture in which teams collaborate, easily exchange ideas and information, as well as use trial and error will be much more successful.
7. Put in place a flexible organisational structure across business units
Coordination between business units is needed so that managers are able to rely on colleagues in other units and collaborate with them.
Managing the strategy across units prevents silos and allows information to flow horizontally, which in turn ensures it gets to the top quicker.
A more flexible organisational structure will also allow for the following measures to be put in place: coordination of actions that span organisational boundaries; broadening of the reach of control; creation of informal networks across the organisation to encourage individuals to learn about other units’ work – all of which can greatly improve the chances of successful strategic execution.
8. Implement a system of review and accountability for results with performance rewards
Setting strategy should be a continual process, as should reviewing the strategy on a regular and ongoing basis, in order to keep up with any changes in the competitive environment.
The success or failure of strategy implementation should be measurable – with responsibility and accountability for those decisions and actions clearly assigned and put in place which are understood by everyone.
The creation of individual objectives that align with the organisation’s strategy will provide management with an excellent way to hold individuals accountable for achieving their goals, as well as the means to motivate them by rewarding behaviours like agility and teamwork.
On the project level, this can be achieved by a set of metrics by which portfolio managers can determine if the project activities are moving the company towards the desired goal.
9. Ensure employees understand their contribution to strategic outcomes and are motivated
Strategy execution can be a complex topic but communicating it in a clear and focused way will give employees the information they need to fulfil their responsibilities, as well as the ability to contribute to an organisation’s overall performance.
Everyone in the workplace should feel engaged in executing the strategy through a collective focus and purpose and a strong strategic culture in support of strategic priorities with the clear communication of goals and objectives.
Leaders can help improve organisational culture just by giving their employees a reason to care about supporting its strategies.
10. Be more agile and flexible to change
Being agile enough to seize opportunities, adapt to changing market circumstances and mitigate emerging threats is critical to success – as long as it is balanced with alignment and managers don’t lose sight of company strategy.
Managers therefore need to screen opportunities against company strategy so as not to deprive the most promising initiatives of the resources they need, reallocate funds and resources across units quickly enough, while at the same time keep in place an effective structure for adapting to changing circumstances.