Date Added: September 2010
Note: This article appeared in the September 1, 2010 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Strategy is a topic continually discussed. Leaders believe their organizations create and execute strategy well; yet, employees and results disagree.
Nearly 60 percent believe they have no involvement in creating the organization’s strategy. Forty-three percent cannot completely communicate the strategy. However, 72 percent state communicating strategy in understandable terms is the No. 1 priority for achieving successful execution.
It is evident that organizations still follow a top-down structure by creating strategy with a small group, not involving those responsible for execution, and not effectively communicating the strategy. How can this perpetual cycle be changed?
Recognize that everyone is responsible for strategy and execution by engaging more employees in the process. Invest more in the constant communication of strategy and organizational values so everybody understands their role in execution. Trust employees to find appropriate solutions – they deal with customers daily.
Another item related to strategy is speed. Many leaders seek methods to do things faster; however, there is a difference between operational speed and strategic speed. Operational speed can cause errors, reduce service and decrease quality. In effect, it can harm the strategy.
Organizations excelling at strategic speed allow time for employees to be involved, think, make mistakes and learn. These organizations have stronger teams always willing to help each other vs. competing with each other. They invest in learning and training for all levels – bottom to top.
Strategy, speed and execution are functions of leadership. Is leadership willing to involve all employees? Are they willing to learn how to communicate better and take the time to do so? Are they willing to trust employees? Are they willing to allow mistakes and capture lessons learned?
Socrates said, “I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.” Employees should seek the ability to think by asking to get involved with strategy, asking questions to understand the strategy, and proactively providing solutions.
Regardless of how intelligent and educated we are – or think we are – we must always have an open mind and heart to ask, listen, learn, think and act. Leaders must embrace these concepts with employees and external advisors to allow greater success of strategic execution.