Fall is the magical time of year when many executives plan their upcoming year’s strategy. Innovative ideas and aspirations abound. This is also the time of year where executives realize they have not executed those innovative ideas from their last plan and the results show it.
Most CEOs echo the statement that their companies are great at planning but are not very good at executing.
So, what does it take to execute your organization’s strategy successfully?
In my 30 years as a transformational business leader, I found that executing a strategy is a combination of focus, preparation, grit, and teamwork. Leaders that apply my advice will execute their strategy and deliver results – it always worked for me.
Keep It Simple
The most powerful business strategy will fit on a single page. Keep your plan simple with no more than three to five strategic imperatives. The fewer, the better your focus. A strategic imperative is a clearly stated change or goal for your business. (This is the point that some will get caught up in the semantics of goals vs. objectives vs. imperatives. It’s tempting but a waste of energy.)
What’s Your One Thing?
Ask yourself, “What is the one thing that takes the least effort and will create the biggest results?” Your answer is your one thing. Your one thing must be one of the 3 -5 strategic imperatives. If it is not, you have the wrong imperatives.
Knowing your one thing is gold because you will repeatedly communicate it, focus on it and get it done.
Translate Strategy Into Actions
Start with your one thing and brainstorm the critical activities that will move you towards achieving that one thing. Break these actions into 30-day increments and build in milestones. Utilize your team to identify what steps they must take within the next 30 days to move forward towards our one thing? Write them down. Identify what resources you and your team need? Who owns each action? What is the target date to complete the action item? Go through this same exercise for at least a four-month period.
Build in multiple points where you reassess your one thing, actions, and results. This provides you the agility you and your team need to make necessary course corrections early on.
Add Actions Items to Your Calendar
Now that you have clear actions outlined that will move you towards achieving your one thing add these actions into your schedule. Translating actions into calendar items shows where you may have conflicts and enables you to resolve them in advance. Moving action items into the calendar removes part of the angst about staying on top of the strategy. You have more freedom and confidence to innovate and focus.
As a leader, including the action items of your team members in your calendar and the advanced check-in dates to connect with that team member. How are they progressing? What support would they like? This creates focused strategic and tactical conversations with the team. I enjoy asking the group to rate our progress on a quarterly basis. They always respond with candor.
Executing a strategy requires accountability. When you utilize our team in creating the action items and they share information about who owns what they are doing individually and collectively. Those check-in times you built into the calendar become coaching times.
The momentum you create focusing on your one thing becomes infectious. Progress and achievement generate clarity and the desire to add action items for the other strategic imperatives. It’s a controlled snowball effect that usually begins within 90 days of progress on the one thing.
Are these steps innovative? Yes, as a leader that consistently executes a strategy you now have focused, creative energy. I challenge you to apply this advice as you plan your 2019. You will join the ranks of the few leaders that execute strategy – guaranteed.
What helps you execute your strategy?