Execute your strategy with a mop and a bucket

mop & bucketThe biggest challenge in any business is execution of its strategy; the key to successful execution is alignment.

The apocryphal quotation attributed to the Janitor of when asked, “what he was doing?” whilst John F Kennedy was touring NASA in the early 1960’s of replying,

“I’m part of a team that’s sending a man to the moon” might not be altogether true, but it’s a good example of successful organisational alignment.

So, if you have launched your new strategy, but your results are still the same, the question you should ask yourself, is how aligned are all the areas of your business in support of its execution?

Here are five tips to help you check your alignment,

1. Objectives:

Take a look at the strategy; is it driven by realistic objectives? A strategy cannot operate in isolation; it has to be informed by a measurable, achievable, realistic and tangible objectives. It also should be designed not only to achieve short-term results, but also to build a long-term sustainable advantage. Are the objectives and the strategy aligned?

2. Interlock:

Are the various groups that need to operate in an aligned manner, all facing towards the same objective, embracing the same values and supporting each other’s efforts? Or are they focused on achieving just their own targets?

If you haven’t interlocked all the separate divisional plans before finalising your objectives and announcing your strategy, the result is likely to be that internal conflict wins over alignment in the battle for peoples attention

3. People:

It is conventional wisdom that strategy drives structure and for most part I personally believe this to be true. However, it does not matter what structure you come up with, if the people populating the structure don’t have the desire and the ability to execute the strategy.

Never underestimate the roles that collective apathy and/or wilful insubordination can play in undermining the successful execution of a strategy. So before you stood up and launched your plan, did you prepare the structure and assess the people?

4. Communication:

In my experience, this is where one of the major cracks in alignment occurs and it’s so easily avoidable. The bottom line is this. If you want people to be aligned, you have to tell them what you want them to do, what results you expect from them and when you expect the results to happen.

Furthermore, if you want to hold to your company values, you have to even poke into the sacrosanct area of “How” and give some “guidance” on “how” you would like them to do it.

5. Leadership:

If the strategy is your plan, then it’s not just your job to launch it; the execution is as much your responsibility as anyone else’s. So be prepared to tackle the stuff that isn’t working and be gracious enough to credit your teams with the success for what is going well.

If the execution of your strategy is not going according to plan, hopefully these tips will help you get back on track: However, If it’s all working splendidly and like John F Kennedy you’ve got it cracked down to the level of the Janitor, relax, you will not only have a successful organisation; you’ll have a very clean one as well.

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