Bringing people, strategy and finances together creates maximum value and momentum for any enterprise. However, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘business as usual’- fighting today’s battles and focusing too much on the now, and not enough on the future. So what to do different and make that difference in trajectory?
Business as usual – the quicksand of change
What I often find when a CEO presents a new strategy is that there are always new activities that staff have to undertake. Whether that’s new product updates or different ways to engage with clients, the result of a strategic planning exercise usually leads to people needing to do more work to take the business forward in a deeper or different direction – many of which fail as organisations do not have extra people, and nobody has extra time to dedicate to additional causes or tasks.
Avoiding falling into this hole is very difficult. The best way I know is to set up a limited number of initiatives with short deliverable times (like 90 days) and really break them down into chewable chunks which are then part of the ongoing weekly review
Put it on the agenda – and follow up rigorously
You have to really hone your ability to bring all parts of an organisation and its workforce together. This might mean explicitly putting it on your agenda for weekly or monthly catch-ups with your team. Or, it could mean giving people tasks that will help them work towards these uniting goals. Get them to report back regularly so they can’t get lost under the excuses of ‘business as usual’.
This ongoing loop of meetings and feedback is the only way to actually get people and strategy to come to life and engage with each other. Once they’re engaged and invested in the process, it’s more likely to happen and harder for people to ignore.
Be aware of the financial implications
A strategic initiative, no matter how much buy-in it has from other people in the business, isn’t effective without an understanding of the financial implications surrounding it. What will it cost? What are the budgets? What kind of return on investment can you expect from it?
Ultimately, everything we do within our businesses will be measured financially. In that respect, creating a strategic initiative that isn’t backed up by numbers or directed at a financial goal is all a bit meaningless.
Work out how your strategy will cascade from employee to employee
Getting buy-in from a senior leadership team isn’t the difficult part of communicating a strategy; it’s ensuring you can get it to trickle down through the rest of the organisation that can be the real challenge.
Everyone involved in the creation of the strategy has to go back to their department and ensure their team is just as engaged and enthusiastic as they are about the plan and what they have to do. It’s about them replicating the same steps you put in place, such as scheduling updates and creating that feedback loop that keeps people accountable and reinforces just how important it is to work towards strategic goals.