Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Strategy Execution is the business strategy of the 21st century
January 8, 2015, 8:00 am
Filed under: - People Change Management

Outperfom model Gail SeveriniIn May 2014 the OutPerform Model © was soft launched at The Conference Board of Canada’s annual Change Management conference and I shared it with you here in June.

This post elaborates on each of the 6 components.

Why is an integrated approach to strategy execution important?

Strategy Execution offers a rare opportunity to preserve return on investment by upwards of 44%. How do we know this? Research is clear the failure rate on strategy is high. For many years surveys of executives reported failure rates of 70% – this figure is legendary.

Organizations are improving however the failure rate is still unacceptable. A recent survey by The Economist, “Why Good Strategies Fail: Lessons for the C-Suite”, reported that just 56% of strategic initiatives have been successful. That is dreadful.

Great Strategy Execution is elusive because organizations are still only addressing individual components in isolation.

What does great Strategy Execution require? There are 6 key components:

1. An Agile Culture. This dimension of the organization’s culture is geared specifically for adaptation, where leaders and employees at all levels have a predisposition for change. They are ready and resilient.

2. An Engaged Board. A focus on short termism (this quarter’s results) is toxic for transformational change. This mindset is set at the very top of the organization. An engaged Board is looking at a 3-5-10 year horizon and supporting leadership in prioritization across these terms.

3. Engaged Leaders. An engaged leadership team works together across silos with the best interests of the Enterprise in mind. They recognize that leading transformational change is unlike any other operational leadership role. They participate fully in the Strategy Formulation and in the cascade into Business Planning. They steward the original vision to ensure that it is translated accurately into initiatives. They surface and resolve resistance. They build and sustain commitment. They actively support initiatives throughout implementation and they watch for the leading and lagging realization indicators.

4. An Agile Strategy. Transformation is emergent. Great transformational strategy can only estimate the future. It must also be adaptive. Scenario planning, re-calibration and even sometimes course correction are provided for.

5. An Execution Engine. The multi-disciplinary capabilities required for great Strategy Execution include:

  • Governance
  • Sponsorship (at multiple levels)
  • Organization Design and Development
  • Learning and Development
  • Talent Management
  • Business Process Re-engineering
  • Business Analysis
  • Change Management
  • Portfolio, Program and Project Management

Each of these is deep and requires specific attention and they need to be appropriately integrated for optimization.

6.  Benefits Realization. Assuring that the organization obtains the full benefits envisioned in the Business Case, Business Plan or Strategy Plan requires follow through. It requires a vigilance that begins with conception and only ends when results have been validated. Most organizations do not monitor for full benefits realization. There are many systemic reasons for this.  Winners overcome these both with mindsets, governance structures and capabilities.

The reality is that working on any of these components will improve Strategy Execution. However, sub-optimization of any ONE (or more) will undermine, sabotage and otherwise cause delays, re-work, shortfalls and even outright failure.

The good news is that, with a proper Strategy Execution Review and Roadmap, organizations can drive better results immediately and can accelerate improvement year-over-year.

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2 Comments so far
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Gail, thank you very much for sharing!


Comment by Jean Letourneau

Hi Gail – Great post.

I think it is important to note that the first three, Culture, Board and Leaders are all about the People. What they do, how they behave, what they are focused on. Five, Execution Engine, is how the organization (People again) operate.

Data, numbers, information is all great. Bottom line for successful execution lies with People. What their focus is. How and where they expend their energy. How they behave.

Comment by Faith Fuqua-Purvis

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