This week we should have attended the IRM Innovation, Business Change and Business Transformation forum in London, but due to covid-19, the conference has been postponed. One of the slides to be presented is the ubiquitous definition of “strategy execution”. While for some it means just the implementation of the strategy, and for others maybe just phrased as getting the strategy done – and both will fail. Strategy execution is the soft discipline to get people onboarded into the change journey toward the future set of business operations.
Strategy execution needs to move into behavior. We may choose another word, but to make an organization empowered to absorb a new strategy, it is crucial that such strategy is broken down into themes, elements and behavior: “What can I do differently when I go to work?”. Most people like to contribute to the bigger picture, so it is important that strategies are not always broken into programs, projects and tasks! That may work for closed-ended initiatives, but for open-ended strategies it should be broken down to themes, elements and behavior. This is where strategy meets culture. Projects may be part of a strategy, but the human element is often much more important for the long-term change. Strategy execution at heart is about changing behavior. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, as said by Peter Drucker. So only by changing the culture, creating target behavior will it be possible to change the culture and succeed with larger changes.
Strategy should be less PowerPoints. The challenge is that when PowerPoints are seen as “plans”, then the strategy becomes quite static, not empowered to the many, and not iterated with messaging and experiments to work well. A successful strategy execution needs to leave the PowerPoint phase and move into a connected insight where the future best-practice is established around the future offerings and desired objectives. Leaving a PowerPoint also means it is possible to make insight and alive strategies that track changes and initiatives. This is where information modelling and scenario planning is much more relevant technologies than project tools. Projects may be part of strategy, but the key focus should be on the value creation and outcomes, not so much on projects and their performance.
Context is king. Even the best execution will not be able to ignore the fact that most people are busy as they go to work. Only by working with behavior and context, it is possible to provide the environment for people to contribute to the change. We are often impacted by the situation, by the way context is presented. Hence, if the objective and rational plans do not take into consideration the irrational and human behavior in daily work-life, then the plans will often be useless, whereas the planning and insight to experiments will be much more supportive to fulfill the change.
And while strategy planning becomes a living estate, the pendulum swings back to central knowledge, democratized input, for all the dots that need to be connected in a larger enterprise as the execution is empowered. This is where information management is key to support the ongoing iterations and impact. We often advocate that for companies who are interested in big change, they should start to map out the themes and choose strategy elements of the inner game, outer game or customer focused theme.
One may see the digitalisation as a pre-burner or enabler for becoming a different digital company. With digitalisation we see the consistent paradigm of electrifying the processes to obtain better processes. This is clearly a playground on its own, where we can help you to get transparency to business processes, optimize the processes and secure leaner and more efficient business operations. This theme will keep the paradigm of the current business operations and trim it. This also means, that digitalisation is disjoint from the transformed digital company where elements like disruption and new enterprise models are considered. Working with new models, new blueprints, there is quite another risk, and also a larger need to use scenario-based planning.
You may contact us for our advise or our solutions to plan the future. We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning which is an ongoing architectural process – and a digital process of information management. If you have questions, please make contact.
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