20 Tips for Successful Strategy Implementation: Part II – Aligning Your Organization

Posted by on Jun 13, 2011

Phase II Aligning your organization

This is the second in a series of four posts describing 20 effective practices to help you accelerate the implementation of your strategy.

A new strategy is certain to disrupt the complex system of people, processes, policies, plans, systems, and structures that makes your organization work. The next 5 tips will help you align these elements to accelerate and enhance the success of your strategy.

6. Provide resources for change

Almost every new strategy creates a “change bulge” which, like a pig in a python, must be broken down and digested before it can ever pay off. You can avoid indigestion in two important ways.

First, focus your initial efforts on the strategic initiatives that promise the highest early payoff. Don’t try to implement too many initiatives at once – this is almost sure to delay success and payoff! Choosing the right “first initiatives” is a great investment of time and effort.

Second, put your best resources on your most important initiatives. If necessary, offload their routine duties to accelerate progress. Backfill with junior people, if possible, to provide development opportunities and limit the cost of temporary resources. This is especially important for lean organizations. Lean and mean” in the operating mode can deteriorate into “anorexic and inflexible” when implementing strategic change. Few successful change-makers created the future off the corner of an over-crowded desk.

7. Engage key people early

Get to know who you can count on to make change happen. You’ll need stellar performances from your natural leaders and from managers whose areas must change to make the new strategy work. Involve them early in leading change.

Sometimes, people with an operational focus have trouble managing a change project. Don’t wait too long for them to rise to the challenge. If they falter, move them to an assignment that fits their talents and get a change-maker involved instead.

8. Align resources and rewards with your plans

Are your resources and your reward system still aligned to your old strategy? Check it out. Pay special attention to official plans, budgets and reward systems right from the beginning. People usually put the most effort into doing what gets measured and rewarded. Don’t cripple your strategy by starving new initiatives and perpetuating old measurements that no longer support your aims.

9. Set priorities

Every strategy is a mix of a few first priorities and many secondary ones. But when setting priorities, managers sometimes overlook initiatives that are critical building blocks for the obvious top priorities. To avoid this mistake, try this method for prioritizing:

  • Write each strategic initiative on a “post-it” and stick them all on a white-board or a large sheet of paper, grouping them in “means to ends” (cause-effect) clusters.
  • Within each cluster, put the initiatives that are “ends” above those that are “means”. Now arrange them in “means to ends” chains. They’ll probably form several inter-linked chains.
  • Draw arrows from the “means” to the related “ends”.
  • Now that you can see the “means to ends” linkages, look through all the chains and pick out the five or so initiatives that you feel are your first priorities for resources and effort. Focus first on those that promise the fastest payoff to your investment in strategic planning.

These should become your priorities for first action. Be prepared to shift resources away from lower priorities to these key initiatives if your implementation begins to falter.

10. Align your plans

The best way to engage people in a new strategy is to involve them in planning implementation for their own areas of responsibility. You will need some managers and employees to lead or take a proactive part in implementing changes within their areas. Assign them to work on one or more of the task teams that will plan and implement specific initiatives.

When corporate strategy team members are heads of their own sizable organizational units (business units, divisions or major departments), the management team of each unit should create its own aligned implementation strategy. Our clients’ success has been increased by creating aligned strategies with divisions and departments. It is a great way to accelerate implementation of the strategy for a larger corporate entity.

Next week – 5 tips on tracking and managing progress.

© Knowlan Consulting Group Inc., 2011