4 steps to implement your strategy correctly
Over my last few blogs, I’ve written about important subjects that form the basis of your overarching strategy.
If you’ve read the blogs, you would have a detailed understanding of what’s required to articulate your ultimate objective and vision, formulate a plan of its success and gather and analyse the data or research needed to put you way in front of your competitors.
These four steps are vital to your ongoing existence in business. If you’re not across this information, I suggest you get up to speed quickly.
It’s all well and good to know your objective, vision and formula but now comes the linchpin – how to correctly implement the previous work you’ve done.
In the book, Execution, respected and notable CEO Larry Bossidy sums up perfectly what execution is and why it’s integral to your future.
“Execution is a specific set of behaviours and techniques that companies need to master in order to have a competitive advantage. It’s a discipline of its own.”
While Bossidy used the word “execution” I think the usage of implementation is just as accurate and ultimately interchangeable.
There are two common types of people leading to the process of implementation
The doer: Enters into business with an idea and starts trying to implement that idea as a strategy and selling mechanism. Filled with confidence, and believing the market is craving what they’ve got, they push forward with the notion that success will come from making sales and a big noise. They are not backed by anything substantial and while they may get early runs on the board, it will fizzle out and they’ll be left wondering what happened.
Having a ‘can do’ attitude in business is to be encouraged but if your attention and focus are not on what’s important, you’ll start heading in the wrong direction and get widely off-course.
The over-thinker: While some just want to do, others want to plan for every conceivable little detail possible. This type of person will come back with a 100-page strategy and expect every aspect of the strategy to be implemented as documented in their 35 step process. Once their plan is pushed out to include other staff members, its soon realised the plan is too large and confusing to implement and it never gets done.
I’m not suggesting detailed planning is overrated, I simply mean that a plan will never be implemented if you’re not prepared to relax the plan and start to roll it out. It’s in doing this that you will start to see successes and failures in real-time, which they often can’t be planned for on paper.
It’s staff at the coalface who need to implement, so they need to know
While the two common people above are often charged with creating the strategy that needs to be implemented, it’s frontline staff that do the heavy lifting. I find it strange (and frustrating) dealing with senior managers who expect staff to push forward with a plan that hasn’t been communicated to the wider employee base.
Let’s be clear about it, staff might not need every detail but they need plenty of them to implement. They will not implement the directions you’ve given them if they don’t know why.
This comes back to you effectively explaining your vision and how that vision will be implemented across your company and every aspect associated with it (from marketing messages and campaigns to how you communicate with your customers).
4 steps to implement your strategy successfully
I’ve just explained why it’s vital to implement the correct strategy across your business, but in order to do it successfully and with confidence, here’s what you’ve got to.
Step 1: Make the strategy achievable
If the strategy is a 100-page over-explained epic, it won’t be read let-alone implemented. When creating your strategy, adhere to the tested and true method of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). You may be writing it and understand it to the letter, but that doesn’t mean others will.
When was the last time you read a detailed insurance policy document? Like most, I’m sure you signed it without a clear understanding of what it was about. The same rings true with staff when told to implement. They will verbally agree but upon review of the document, unless it’s straightforward, it just becomes another working document that never gets completed.
Step 2: Get staff to engage with it
It makes sense that engaged staff will work harder to implement your strategy. But, as mentioned previously, they won’t do that unless they know what they’re working towards.
Getting the buy-in of staff will only happen if you explain your vision, and work out how to get them enrolled in that vision. In doing so, you’ll learn a few things about your staff. You’ll realise who’s working simply for money and who wants to help you implement your strategy and achieve your vision. It’s refreshing to discover who looks at what you’re trying to achieve as more than a job.
Be conscience though, when you discover those working for money and not buying into your vision, you’ll quickly learn who the agitators and doubters in your business are and a tough call might be needed at some point.
Step 3: Don’t control implementation
Once you know the staff that are with you, engage them further by allowing them to take ownership of sections of the strategy. There’s nothing more motivating for staff to know their work will directly impact the success of your company. It empowers them to want to achieve more and to work not harder but smarter.
I guarantee you one thing. If you task staff with implementing a certain section of the strategy and they take personal ownership, the results you get will be phenomenal. There’s nothing more beneficial for you than staff working towards the same goals and giving them the right to be in charge. New leaders will emerge and great ideas will be created.
Step 4: Remove roadblocks
By removing roadblocks you enable staff to push forward with their section of the strategy implementation unabated. This is the fastest way to the fulfilment of your strategy.
Common roadblocks include:
- Leaders or senior management being too controlling;
- Taking on work (such as extra customer work) that detract from the implementation of the strategy;
- Focusing on things with your company that don’t need immediate attention and will see the implementation of your strategy drift; and
- Not adequately supporting your strategy with person-power or financial resources.
If roadblocks are in place it will negatively impact the success of your strategy. Listen to your staff and remove any obstacles they face in the course of their work.
The implementation of a strategy (or lack of it) is the difference between turning your idea into a fully functional business operation or having later thoughts as to why it didn’t succeed.
As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, Michael Eisner, says:
“There’s no good idea that can’t be improved on.”
And that improvement starts with the creation of your strategy and ends when it’s fully implemented.