What if strategy went viral in your company?

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What if your strategic plan went viral in your company?  What if everyone – from the chairman to the receptionist – knew their part in executing the plan and was passionate about it? Would it make a difference?
According to the experts, it makes a tangible bottom line difference.

 

From the The Baldrige Criteria to Harvard Business Review to Gallup Best Workplaces
– businesses with engaged people outperform those without, on every metric.

 

So how do you go about it?

Here’s our model drawn from 3+ years working with CEOs, digesting the best management literature and piecing it all together.  Please do add your ideas below.

 

1. A team approach to strategy

Find practical and sensible ways to involve the broader team in forming and managing strategy.

For example, a core group of senior leaders form the heart of strategy but everyone gets some input or say in its evolution before it’s finalised.

It’s a simple concept, yet for too many organisations strategy is something owned by a few and obeyed by the many.

Jim Harter Ph.D., a chief scientist at Gallup Research explained to the Harvard Business Review (HBR) that engaged employees “are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.”

2. Use the right tools for the job

Find a concise, usable strategic framework (like Leaderkit)tools for aligning executive teams so the team can focus on the key concepts with consistent language.

Look for holistic models that encompass:

  • who you are  – values, purpose
  • where you’re going  – vision
  • where you’ll play – target customer and need
  • how you’ll win
    • Macro level – competitive advantage, value proposition, market positioning
    • Micro level – key strategic drivers or directions for the current period

Find easy-to-use execution software (like Leaderkit) that connects strategy to management routine – without it, strategy will struggle for air-time against operational demands.

 

3. Simplify – Clarify – Focus

When it comes to strategy, size does matter: less is more. Why? Because the bigger and more complex something is the more we over complicate and obscure it. Simple leads to clarity – clarity leads to focus – focus leads to getting the right things done.

Distill each element of your strategic plan to its simplest form (without going too simple). We’re fans of a 5 sentence strategic foundation (see how) and 3-4 sentence annual strategy.

HBR’s article; “The big lie of strategic planning” puts it this way:

Two choices determine success: the where-to-play decision (which specific customers to target) and the how-to-win decision (how to create a compelling value proposition for those customers)…

If a strategy is about just those two decisions, it won’t need to involve the production of long and tedious planning documents. There is no reason why a company’s strategy choices can’t be summarized in one page with simple words and concepts.

 

If you would like to try this with your business you can download our One Page Plan template below – no obligation.  It is free to use and share.

 

4. Over communicate (with a liberal helping of ‘x’ factor)

Patrick Lencioni’s book The Advantage lists four great ways Resources for aligning executive teamsto over-communicate core important messages:

  1. Repetition: Don’t be afraid to repeat the same message, again and again
  2. Simplicity: The more complicated the message, the more potential for confusion and inconsistency
  3. Multiple mediums: People react to information in many ways; use a variety of mediums
  4. Cascading messages: Leaders communicate key messages to direct reports; the cycle repeats itself until the message is heard by all

This might look like:

  • Your CEO sharing the vision over beer and pizza with the whole team
  • Teams sharing how the build competitive advantage and create value through it
  • Team leaders articulating strategic goals achieved and initiatives progressed
  • HR ensuring each new employee can state the strategy and their role in delivering it

Find and develop inventive ways to make these discussions alive, fun, real and relevant to your company.


 

Thanks for reading this post – I hope it’s been valuable. Please do share your tips and thoughts on the topic in the comments section below. Many CEOs and executives are professionally isolated when it comes to strategy. Let’s change that together.