In the last post, we outlined the alarming issue of a strategy gap in businesses nowadays and how it can be undesirably widened by failures in strategic planning and budgeting. To gain a competitive advantage and increase business resilience, companies need to bridge this gap between strategy and execution, the task that requires serious dedication from everyone in an organisation. There are four factors of an effective strategy and execution alignment, from conveying what corporate goals really mean to identifying how they should be achieved.
Corporate goal clarification
First and foremost, a successful organisation is the one that has everyone working towards the same objective. Therefore, leaders need to eliminate the chronic notion among employees that corporate strategy and goals are high-level ideas that do not affect their day-to-day operations. In other words, business leaders and executives need to make sure they communicate the corporate strategy in such a meaningful way that sticks in the people’s minds. They need to motivate their subordinates, by splitting the corporate vision into milestones and using a strategy map.
These are methods to help employees visualise business objectives as people tend to believe in their eyes. For instance, a company can divide its vision into a three major stages: launching a new product, becoming a partner with company X and opening a branch in a foreign country. This will come along with how resources are allocated and a timeline for action. Meanwhile, a strategy map helps guide people through each of the stage above with a more specific direction.
After high-level corporate goals are clarified and understood, it is vital to review operational processes, or detailed day-to-day operations, as misalignment between strategy and execution often occurs here. During this review, organisations should refer to the overall strategy to make sure processes are properly aligned. They should also examine business processes in terms of effectiveness (doing the right things) and efficiency (doing things right).
Measuring and monitoring
How do companies know they are on the right track? They need to establish metrics and measures that link directly to their corporate strategy. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measures that facilitate this alignment. KPIs can be financial or non-financial and should be designed to drive future performance. Moreover, accountability should be strengthened through devising KPIs.
For monitoring purposes, companies can use scorecards or executive dashboards. Scorecards offer an overview of progress toward corporate goals, while executive dashboards provide a more quantitative look at specific measures. While scorecards can be used by casual users to see how operational and financial data are integrated with resource allocation information, executive dashboards are used by power users to slice and dice, view multi-dimensional data, drill down into an area of interest, devise and test assumptions, which is useful for identifying dysfunctional strategy execution.
Integration and communication
Effective and enterprise-wide communication is the springboard for effective strategy alignment. What is effective communication? It means communicating:
- The right message
- To the right people
- At the right time
There should also be formalised processes to facilitate communication and collaboration among departments. Some companies deploy a communication portal with real-time feedback and file sharing capabilities. Moreover, organisations need to ensure data is synchronised and that everyone has access to a single version of truth.
To sum up, strategy and execution alignment requires a holistic approach, top-down and bottom-up. Corporate leaders need to do the hard work of translating their vision to relevant and relatable goals that employees can understand; ultimately, they will execute them more effectively. Stay tuned for the next blog post, where we will discuss one of the most powerful tools used to bridge the strategy gap – the Balanced Scorecard.
In the meantime, download the second part of the white paper “Addressing strategy management and the balanced scorecard” to have a sneak peek into scorecards.