3 reasons why implementation stalls, and 3 keys to getting things done

66 - 75% of large organisations struggle with execution of their strategies (Hull, Somke and Hull, HBR March 2015).

My own research into attitudes to strategic planning in September 2019 revealed that 50% of respondents were not satisfied with the immediate or longer term impact of their strategic planning conversations.

Clients often call me for help because they've encountered one of these three roadblocks to effective implementation:

There is no clear strategy

You may have held discussions, but you didn't reach specific decisions about where you want to get to, or how to get there. Pages of ideas (or pages of jargon!) are not a clear strategy.

Genuine consensus has not been reached

People can't implement what they don't understand and most of us find ways to avoid doing things we don't agree with.

Your world has moved on

Being strategic is about focusing on your long game. But sometimes situations change fast, and organisations who have delayed implementation may find they have missed the identified opportunity. Sometimes, your strategy is no longer the right one for the times.

3 keys to getting things done

1. Commit 50% of your discussion time to how These discussions about how to implement your strategy don't have to be on the same day or in the same format, but they need to happen before your strategy is finalised. This is a test of how achievable your big picture is, and how realistic your time frames are. Hint: map out a longitudinal time line of when everything will get done - if all the work is placed in the first six months, what does this tell you about your strategy horizon or your ambition? 2. List your "first, next steps" For key decisions, don't end the discussion without identifying your first, next steps for each of them. List on a table what is the first tangible action to take this week to start implementing each decision, and who is responsible for that first step. 3. Confirm and keep talking about your "shared story" Take the time to build consensus. Encourage people to present different points of view, and then explore them. Sometimes we are so nervous about divergent views that we rush to agreement on the things that no one opposes, but no one is excited about either (aka lowest common denominator decisions). Give people the space, time and trust to reach genuine shared agreements. Summarise "what matters most" in your strategy and keep talking about these key things.

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