strategy execution wins with bottom up engagement
strategy execution has been top down and broken for years, it is time we fixed this
strategy execution fails as a top down push
Traditionally the board or CEO would formulate a strategy, then communicate it in two static documents - one describing the strategy, the other setting targets. Some companies do this as annual offsite events or roadshows. Some hire consultants. Some invite middle management. Some invite the whole company.
Regardless of the approach, two things fail:
- urgent overtakes important - people don’t have the skill, will or time to focus on strategy execution, as day to day priorities consume everyone
- fast out of date - whilst the strategy sounded great, within a few weeks or months it no longer matches what the organization needs to focus on
strategy execution gets lost in noise & being busy
When email was first invented it consumed about 5% of our time and a reasonable response time was 7 days.
Email and messaging apps are now a real time medium, consuming 40% of our time, with another 45-55% lost to meetings, routine tasks and being reactive.
Executives, managers and team leaders are fast losing the headspace to think deeply, plan carefully, experiment freely and flawlessly execute on strategy execution, new capabilities and change.
strategy execution as a tree hierarchy
For everyone to understand and collaborate on strategy execution, best practice is to articulate your strategy as a cascading tree.
You can do this easily on the “our plan” page in #stratapp as: goals > objectives > actions > projects.
This video explains two tips for communicating strategy:
- 3 to 6 rule - for each level in the strategy tree hierarchy
- verb noun rule - for example “develop our …”, “improve our …”, “solve how to …”
#stratapp offers unparalleled flexibility. You can create strategy trees for unlimited combinations of org design (geography, functions, verticals and horizontals). That is, #stratapp adapts to your unique org design and preferred ways of working. You don’t have to adjust your business to suit the software.
#stratapp is has been designed from the outset as a genuine strategy execution app. At any level in the strategy tree hierarchy you can invite people to collaborate on KPIs, workboards, risks, meetings, tasks, files and links. The user experience is easy and context relevant.
Most importantly, your social collaboration on strategy execution has both structure and context. For example, in seconds you can jump to “any questions or decisions made on strategic goals in the last 72 hours” or refine that further to those that “mention me”.
vision and why - providing context for strategy execution
#stratapp allows you to turn on and off different pages for strategic context. Not only that, you can easily publish each module of the app by your org design, or by individual users.
For example, you may choose to articulate the vision, mission and values, and initially only publish those pages to executives and marketing team members based in APAC/Singapore and Europe/Germany.
Or you may prefer to use the brilliant start with why construct from Simon Sinek, which is also built into #stratapp.
winning aspiration & where to play - strategic choices
Prof Martin argues that CEOs and business owners should focus on the strategic choices, so their leaders and teams have a frame of reference for strategy execution. This thinking is included in #stratapp under the “direction” page, allowing you to articulate:
- winning aspiration
- where to play
- how to win
The strategy tree hierarchy inside #stratapp then becomes the place to articulate, innovate, evolve and collaborate on strategy execution, against this clearly defined strategic frame of reference.
becoming agile on strategy execution
Hardly a week goes by without a management article or high profile blog post talking to the need for organizations to become agile. If you study them, you’ll start to see a pattern - the talk is all about the why, benefits and learnings from becoming agile. There is little or no mention of exactly how to achieve an agile culture and org-wide capability, especially if you have 50 to 500,000 employees.
#stratapp makes “the how” easy.
#stratapp accelerates your time to value on agile in days, rather than weeks or months. Importantly, #stratapp makes your agile culture and org-wide capability sustainable, gaining strength over time.
#stratapp has been designed for org-wide collaboration within a strategic context. Providing an interactive strategic context is the key to sustaining agile. If you don’t have context and structure, agile collaboration soon becomes a fire-hose of distraction and noise.
#stratapp allows you to achieve the benefits of agile - shaping, testing and evolving strategy execution at speed - whilst at the same time proactively managing risk at all levels of the organization.
cascading KPIs/OKRs for strategy execution
#stratapp caters for both types of KPIs/OKRs in an organization. Those that relate to the strategy tree hierarchy, and those that relate to day to day operations and your objectives on cadence.
In both cases you can cascade the KPI/OKR hierarchy, separate to the strategy tree hierarchy. As beautifully articulated by Richard Rumelt in Good Strategy Bad Strategy, setting targets is not a strategy. The strategy tree reflects your strategy. The KPI/OKR tree reflects your targets.
For example, you might have a strategic goal to grow market share in Europe. The strategy tree will show the strategy of how you plan to achieve that goal. You might set a KPI to grow European revenue to $100m within 3 years, with the source of that KPI being the goal. Below that KPI you are free to cascade the KPI as you see fit, independent of the strategy tree. For example, you might cascade the KPI targets by region (Scandinavia, Benelux and Germany), then by country, then by region.
Cascading the KPIs is not a strategy, they are measures of progress and outcomes. On the strategy tree you will collaborate on how to actually achieve strategy execution - how you will win and what you will need to win.
employee engagement on strategy execution
20, 100, 1,000 or 50,000 employees cannot collaborate on a strategy doc or slides. Let’s be honest, most employees won’t even read it.
#stratapp brings your strategy alive, in an interactive digital format, accessible to everyone.
By making strategy alive and interactive, you naturally create employee engagement on strategy execution. People at all levels of the organization can ask questions, contribute ideas, identify risks and volunteer to get involved.
You immediately tap into the talents and potential of everyone in the organization.
Furthermore, the evolution of strategy, based on experimentation, employee and market feedback, becomes part of the culture - a learning organization that can actually execute, by breaking free of the rigid structure of static point-in-time documents and top-down control.
By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. To better understand their fresh perspective on radical transparency and digital work collaboration, you might enjoy this article characterising why we 45-55yr olds are the problem.
positively disrupting the comms hierarchy
Elon Musk has 6 productivity rules at Tesla, and rule #5 is “Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the ‘chain of command’ … It must be ok for people to talk directly and just make the right things happen.”
At #stratapp we share the same view. The organization hierarchy is only there to allocate responsibility and manage risk. For example, spending limits or looking after a team, customer, project or process.
Separate to the org structure and hierarchy, communication should be free flowing and open. However, we definitely do not want to create a twitter or #slack fire-hose of social posts and notifications, because in the end that just creates more noise and distraction.
#stratapp has social with structure and context. We were not the first to think of this and we give full credit to Atlassian in this article, however we are the first and only B2B SaaS app to bring this powerful capability to market. It is an integral part of the #stratapp UX and you will find yourself revelling in the social/work page.
Hopefully your organization will take this step change opportunity to eliminate 95% of internal email.
But social with structure is only half the story. We also have social with context, and that context can either be the strategy tree hierarchy, or the KPIs, workboards, tasks, risks, ideas or challenges hanging off it, or it could be all of those applied to day to day work.
By design, #stratapp has solved 3 things at once:
- engaging employees on strategy execution - because they can do both strategic and day to day work in one app - #stratapp adds value to every employee at every level (including simple things like meetings, tasks, workboards and what they’ve got on this week), making it worth their while to engage each day
- executives, leaders and teams can collaborate efficiently - with just the right level of structure and context, to save you time without hindering engagement
- break free of the traditional comms hierarchy - allowing you to tap into the whole talent pool on innovation and evolving strategy execution at speed - whilst elevating culture and org-wide/team/individual performance, and proactively managing risks
managing risks on strategy execution
For most organizations risk management is all talk, no action.
If it was easier to log and keep up to date, most of us would embrace risk management. But it’s not, so we pass the monkey to our CFOs.
#stratapp makes risk management easy, org-wide and natural.
You can easily track risks on both strategy execution and day to day work.
Similar to our design philosophy on other features, #stratapp applies what you already know, so that your time to value is days, not weeks, months or quarters. The CFO monkey link above lists the 10 components of risk management inside #stratapp - things like status, impact, probability and mitigations - as you read that list of 10, you’ll realise you already know them.
By applying what you already know, within a consistent UX alongside the other features, #stratapp makes it easy for you to proactively manage risks on both strategy execution and day to day operations. You might still hand the risk monkey to the CFO, but now that CFO will have the capability to make sure risk ownership and management cascades through the organization, in a meaningful way that does not create an administrative burden.
reflecting on strategy execution
Our starting with why presentation finishes with 3 key questions to ask yourself on strategy execution:
- What are the top 3 pain points?
- How will these change next 5 years?
- What top 3 things are holding back strategy execution?
The slide before that articulates the employee’s perspective:
we have plenty of apps, but there is nothing to run the actual company
we want to collaborate on shared goals and plans, not get bogged down in single-use-apps and noise
We believe that if you ask yourself those 3 key questions, and if you conclude that they are worth solving, then you will love #stratapp.
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Everything you need, in your pocket. #stratapp!
- radical transparency and trust
- real-time alignment and collaboration
- genuine digital transformation and remote working
next gen ready
- by 2025 more than 75% of employees are y-gen / millennials
- asking y-gen to collaborate via email and static docs, is like asking all of us to go back to using fax machines
- 15-30% increase in productivity
- provide every employee the tools to succeed
- attract and retain the best talent, for the right reasons
- 15-30% increase in business valuation
- de-risk and make the business agile
- execute strategy and daily work above expectations