Business Strategy Navigation – Part 6

The Ride, Part II: Implementation

Once the ship has hit the water, it’s time to move. The most intricate and brilliant execution plan is worthless hidden in a desk drawer beneath a stapler and dirty coffee mug. Strategy’s beauty lies in its careful implementation—and ubiquitous involvement. Any disturbance of the status quo is bound to make waves among employees and managers all-too-familiar with alleged strategic panaceas. Front-liners must be assured that the strategy is relevant and necessary. The American Productivity and Quality Center suggests company-wide education and involvement: “There must be a sense of urgency and a convincing argument that the proposed [strategy] will mitigate wasteful, whimsical changes.”[i]

A well-designed strategy avoids such “wasteful, whimsical changes” by consistently involving representatives from all areas and levels in its creation and implementation. None of the new initiatives is irrelevant, because each builds on the input of those it affects. None is an annoying surprise, because each initiative addresses a widely understood goal. And nothing happens suddenly or irrationally: “a management system does not appear instantaneously,” write Kaplan and Norton. “Because of its scope, complexity, and impact, a new management system must be phased in over time.” A Strategy International execution plan facilitates strategic planning with the benefits of short-term proactive change. It does not expect—or, indeed, allow expectation of—sudden results, but promotes steady, directed, creative work toward a discernable future goal. It harnesses the creativity and proactivity of all of the organization’s members in its movement toward a final objective.

Next time we will delve into metrics. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

[i] American Productivity & Quality Center, “Establishing Balanced Scorecards,” American Productivity & Quality Center Home Page (April 2001).