Strategy Deployment is a structured approach to narrowing an organization’s focus on those activities that truly move its strategy forward.
Are you struggling to establish a clear set of priorities and maintain focus on those priorities over an extended period of time? Are goals being set, but they are often vague, disconnected from your organization’s true north, and unrealistic because they compete for limited resources - which results in your work teams going in different directions, misspent capital, lackluster results, frustrated employees, leaders, and stakeholders?
Most organizations have a sound strategy and have an infinite number of options to achieve their strategic objectives, which means there are many projects to be completed or problems to be solved.
In most organizations, there’s no shortage of good ideas and what the organization "could" work on over and above daily work. However, most organizations are not good at deciding what "should" and "will" they work on.
Strategy Deployment is a disciplined strategy execution approach for clarifying priorities and gaining organization-wide consensus and commitment to them. It’s a planning and execution cycle that typically spans a 12-month period of time, usually an organization's fiscal year.
The method enables an organization to gain and maintain a laser focus on what matters most to achieve its longer-term goals and provides an execution framework to achieve it.
How We Can Help
Clarify Strategy & Gain Leadership Alignment
Strategy answers two questions. Where are you headed? What approach will you take in getting there?
We start by helping the leadership team step back and mine the purpose of why their organization exists. We help them brainstorm and agree:
Why was the organization formed in the first place?
What problem did it seek to solve for its customers?
How have market opportunities and customer needs shifted since the original purpose was established?
What’s the organization’s current purpose?
Why does the organization offer what it offers, and not something else?
This is a critical conversation for a leadership team to have before they begin thinking about strategy deployment, as it can reveal a fairly significant philosophical disconnect between one or more leaders that have to be worked through. It's very difficult to succeed with strategy deployment if a leadership team isn’t 100% aligned on the strategy.
Consolidate All On-Going Projects
Most organizations have too many major projects already in play, capital already spent, and teams already moving in conflicting directions.
We facilitate the process of collecting and consolidating a list of all projects, initiatives, improvement activities, and problem-solving efforts that are in progress, planned or stalled that take place outside of and in addition to the regular day-to-day activities needed to run the business.
Define Clear Goals & KPIs
If organizations don’t have clear goals and KPIs defined then our next step is to facilitate leadership sessions in defining and aligning on clear organizational goals and KPIs that the organization will use to measure success in executing the plan.
It’s best if the top-level KPIs have a heavy bias towards the customer experience, employee experience, and operational performance improvement vs. financial performance, as the money will follow.
Strategy Deployment is an exercise in restraint. Out-of-control project lists that may or may not accomplish strategic objectives are replaced by organizational clarity, focus, discipline, and people engagement at all levels.
We facilitate leadership team sessions in going through the process of prioritizing all projects, initiatives, improvement activities, and problem-solving efforts that are in progress, planned or stalled in to one of three categroies: Must Do, Never Do, Not Yet.
To ensure we don't overburden one or more work areas with unrealistic expectations we help the leaders realistically assess the level of effort required to finalize the draft list of Must-Dos
Catchball is a two-way give-and-take exchange of ideas that plays a significant role in strategy deployment. It’s a way to engage people at all levels in the organization so they play a role in the process of setting priorities and understand more deeply how priorities tie to the organization’s strategy. Plan execution is far easier when people are involved in creating it.
In catchball, leaders ask for input and feedback rather than buy-in. They are prepared to listen deeply and modify the draft plan accordingly. If the strategy deployment plan is never modified as a result of catchball, there’s a good chance the conversations being had aren’t catchball-type conversations.
Once the leaders have engaged in at least two rounds of catchball over a week or so and have completed the appropriate number of planned iterations, the plan is ready to be finalized and socialized.
Finalize & Socialize the Plan
After giving the leaders one more round of reality checking, via the level of effort grid, we facilitate leadership sessions to help them come to a consensus on the strategy deployment plan.
We provide sufficient time for leaders to challenge their thinking and once they have reached a consensus we finalize the plan.
Once the plan is final, we discuss how to socialize the plan across the entire organization. We encourage socialization vs. communication because conversations need to occur at all levels in the organization that reiterate why these priorities matter, how they will factor into everyday life at work, and under what conditions will leaders alter priorities mid-year.
We recommend leadership teams establish a regular cadence to the status meetings. At this stage, it's best to assign a project manager who will do the necessary follow ups and provide regular updates to the leadership team.
Best practice for organizations new to strategy deployment is to have strategy deployment status meetings every two weeks for an hour. Status meeting agenda should be tailored to the organization’s need.
Strategy Deployment is a proven method for creating a focused strategy deployment plan that generates meaningful results. It helps the organization select the right priorities to create, manage and execute strategic deployment plans.
Building a disciplined approach to achieving meaningful results requires the organization to replace current mindset and practices with more productive ones. It requires the organization to build new ways of thinking and behaving, forming new habits, across a large portion of the organization.
Adopting strategy deployment as a management method isn’t easy, but it is definitely worthwhile. It takes practice, which takes time. For many organizations, it takes three annual cycles.