Most business strategies don’t fail in their development or implementation. Instead they fail in the gap between these two activities. I call this becoming ‘lost in translation’ and it is your ability to translate your strategic goals into actions on the ground that will be at the heart of your future success.
For example, a $500 million consumer services business I worked with had invested heavily in developing a compelling new strategy and direction. The executive team was excited about the new opportunities that were being uncovered and had set ambitious and demanding growth targets, and changed the performance measures accordingly. The CEO and his senior executives had also spent time with front-line service managers communicating the vision and the high-level strategy for achieving it.
However, over the following months the CEO became increasingly frustrated that the organisation was failing to make sufficient progress towards the new goals and targets. As we investigated we quickly discovered that there were three critical barriers preventing the organisation from delivering the new strategic agenda: individual accountabilities had not been re-set; talent had not been re-deployed; and resources had not been re-allocated.
The result of these failures was that the organisation was making little progress. The situation was like that of a novice rider trying to get a stubborn horse to move. There was a lot of shouting about what the company wanted to do coming from the saddle, but the executive team were unable to shift their collective weight and provide the required kick-start to get the organisation moving in the right direction. They failed to translate their high-level intentions into focused action on the ground. They were lost in translation.
One of your most important roles as a business leader is to bridge the gap between your strategic ambitions and the reality of your organisation’s day-to-day operations. Below are seven questions to see if you have fully translated the strategy of your business so that your teams have the best possible chance of implementing it. For each question rate your organisation on the following scale: Fully delivered; Mostly delivered; Partially delivered; Not yet started.
- The leadership team is completely and fully aligned on your number one goal, your strategy and your agenda for action
- You have prioritised and phased the key initiatives to deliver your strategy and your teams are totally committed to their delivery
- You have reallocated your scarce resources to reflect your new strategic ambitions
- Your top talent is leading the most important strategic initiatives and objectives
- You relate every ongoing decision and action to your underlying strategy
- Everyone in the organisation has a set of accountabilities that relate directly to your strategic objectives and agenda.
- The KPI’s on which you base your performance management and rewards have been changed to reflect your new strategic priorities
From my experience you will need to have answered “Fully Delivered” for at least five of the seven questions and “Mostly Delivered” for the remaining two. If any of these actions are only “Partially Delivered” or worse I recommend that you give them immediate attention or run the risk of letting your strategy get lost in translation!
How well does your organisation stack up against these seven questions? Or do you think that there are other steps that need to be taken to set yourself up for the successful delivery of your strategy?
To find out more contact Stuart by clicking here or call +44-(0)1636-526111.