Change is key to business. How do you communicate strategic planning and execution when you’re part of a gigantic office, or even working with global locations? As a business consultant that collaborates with teams in New York, Chicago, and Toronto, I came in to help introduce new strategic policy into a company. The executive team had a fantastic plan for improving customer experience, turnaround times, productivity, and profit, but nothing got done. The issue? Strategic planning—or rather a lack of it.
Like so many businesses, the main points and direction of the changes were good—these people were amazing at what they do and had incredible ideas. The problem: conveying it to the team—in this case, a 400+ PowerPoint slide.
Like most there, I lost interest after the first dozen slides (or so). The audience—upper-level management, mid-managers, and a few team members were unable to sustain attention. Even though the main points and direction were excellent—they were buried under facts, charts, and jargon.
The presentation was eventually filed on a drive somewhere and occasionally looked at around the next planning cycle. Nothing got done, and management was baffled. That’s because in business creating policies for strategic growth, better customer service, improved profitability, etc., is just half the journey. The other 50% is executing the changes among teams. That’s where policy deployment, aka Hoshin Kanri, comes into play.
It can be challenging for longtime team members to suddenly switch course. Does their day-to-day work allow for extra tasks? Does what they were doing previously contribute to your strategic growth? Successfully executing a new strategy and making progress towards strategic goals requires a plan. This is what I do as a business consultant.
1) Make a Plan:
At most, this should be one page and include objectives and key results. Include an analysis of the results gap, with no more than five key tactics, so it’s easy to grasp. More can be added later—the point is to get the ball rolling in a comprehensive way. Also, try to predict what could go wrong and strategies for staying on track.
2) Deploy the Plan:
Now it’s time to actively share the plan with team members at various stages in the organization. I suggest hosting a series of group activities to vet tactics, along with one-on-one meetings for ideas that are more complex or potentially contentious.
3) Monitor Progress:
This is the toughest part because it requires commitment, discipline, and regular check-ins. Progress must be measured against strategic milestones. Almost no plan will be flawlessly executed, but with regular check-ins, ideation, and minor tweaks, it’s possible to adapt and progress.
Often overlooked, strategic execution requires reflecting on success and failures. What’s working? What’s not? How do you overcome deficiencies? Part of the assessment is coming up with ideas to address what isn’t working.
If changing course is proving difficult for your team, strategic planning and execution could be the answer. By breaking it down into four stages, I help organizations engage their people, streamline processes, and achieve unprecedented levels of success.