20 Tips for Successful Strategy Implementation: Part IV – Evaluation and Adjustment

Posted by on Jun 27, 2011

Phase IV Evaluation and Adjustment

Ongoing strategic success requires vigilant management—continually tweaking the strategy, implementing changes quickly and effectively, and keeping the strategy fresh and alive. A fast, flawless implementation may yield better results than a “brilliant” strategy poorly implemented.

Following are five tips to help you manage the execution and evolution of your strategy effectively.

16. Focus on progress against milestones . . . and on results

As implementation proceeds, it becomes both possible and vital to see whether planned actions are producing results. Many senior managers have learned the hard way that months of favourable progress reports may be followed by a sudden realization that results aren’t materializing. Managers will recognize and mitigate these failures sooner if they track both action and results.

17. Reinforce behaviour you want repeated

A new CEO shocked nearly everyone in his conservative organization by holding a celebration to announce that a high-profile initiative had failed. He used the failure to recognize a positive new pattern for the previously risk-averse group. The failure was not due to lack of effort⎯people had put their hearts into the initiative. The CEO wanted to recognize this development while dumping the initiative. So he declared it a success of effort and commitment, and a failure of strategy. This allowed him to quickly reallocate resources, breaking the organization’s habit of leaving resources stranded in clinically dead initiatives to avoid admitting failure.

18. Set up a competitive intelligence network

Organizations in competitive environments can’t win consistently without up-to-date information about their rivals’ actions. The best sources of competitive intelligence are almost always personal contacts⎯published information seldom provides anyone with a competitive edge.

Surprisingly, key people in your workforce may have many of the contacts needed for gathering first-rate competitive intelligence. Are you tapping them? Why not set up a network within your organization to gather and organize this information? We can help.

19. Understand your successes and failures

Like most organizations, you’ll probably experience a mixture of successes and failures with your new strategy. You must determine the causes of each. Did one of your initiatives fail because it was the wrong strategy? Or was it a sound strategy, but poorly implemented? And what about your successes? Did you succeed because you were lucky, implementing your strategy during a favourable phase in the economic cycle? Or was it really effective?

If you can’t answer those questions, you risk abandoning sound strategies that are slow to start or investing in strategies that look good only because they were implemented when almost any move would have succeeded.

20. Become disciplined and flexible

Remember the dilemma you faced when you created your strategy? You had to anticipate change to benefit from the opportunities it offers, yet by moving early you risked mistakes! It should come as no surprise, then, that your strategy probably contains errors. But where are they?

To find them early, you must regularly assess your progress and explore whether the conditions in your business environment have changed. This requires the discipline of regular strategy reviews and the flexibility to change.

Review your strategy regularly. Use strategy reviews to find and fix mistakes before they hurt you, spot emerging changes in your environment, seize unexpected opportunities, and nullify unexpected threats.

Summing up⎯what’s in a name?

Many people call the work we do with them ”strategic planning”. That’s a misnomer that seriously understates the challenge our clients face. Creating a brighter future requires setting a new direction, creating strategic plans, building and leading a team, and successfully enacting change. Creating your plan is usually the easiest part. The bigger challenge is making it happen⎯communicating, leading, motivating, assessing progress, re-checking the environment, and continually shifting effort and resources⎯and it ultimately matters most.

© 2011 Knowlan Consulting Group Inc.


One Comment

  1. I love the aphorism: fail faster, succeed sooner. I forget who said it, but it really helps me help clients to understand that we reserve the right to be wrong, but we have to be purposeful.

    I really like your advice to understand not just why a strategy might appear to be failing, but also why a strategy is succeeding. There could be exogenous factors in both!