How to deliver your strategy successfully – aligning your leadership and teams
You have spent weeks if not months, coming up with and articulating your business strategy. Signing it off feels as if you have crossed the winning line.
But the reality is you are only on the starting block of delivering it. And that is the hardest challenge. Every one of your leadership team has to understand the strategy, the thinking behind it and what it really means for their area of operation. And then change or adapt what they have been doing to align with the strategy.
And even when you are confident that each leader can do this – can they explain, inspire and motivate their people to deliver it?
Strategy is 90% about leadership
At Corporate Faculty, we have always said that a successful strategy is 90% about the leadership delivering the strategy. Only 10% is down to the strategy itself. An average strategy delivered brilliantly will achieve far more success than a brilliant strategy delivered averagely.
If you imagine everyone in the company is just 10% side-tracked in what they are delivering, imagine the power of getting everyone 100% aligned. And that is the difference between brilliant and average delivery.
As an example, imagine you are working in Ryanair. Their strategy is very clear – it is low cost and process is king in delivering this. It has been well researched and is clearly focused on a customer need; people are prepared to put up with the most basic air travel to arrive cheaply at their destination.
They treat the market as one homogenous market – they don’t segment it as you would in most business models. Segmentation and customising messages and marketing costs money.
But in a way this goes against everything that most marketeers are taught. Instinctively you want to divide up your market and communicate with them in different ways. But this is moving towards a customer intimacy strategy. Really understanding the implications of your strategy in this detail can be hard and go against many of your team’s instincts – it requires strong leadership to keep it on course and everyone focused to deliver.
Executive education should deliver triple value
Because Corporate Faculty is such a new company, I have been listening to a lot of business leaders talk about what they want out of executive education, the problems and help they want to deliver their strategy and thinking about how we best add value in this.
I have come to the conclusion that really good executive education should give triple value. This is how I see it
- Executive education programmes should ensure all your leaders have the theoretical understanding and pragmatic skills to deliver your strategy superbly
- Good programmes ensure a common language and process for the leadership team to discuss and agree delivery and understand how and where they need to work together
- But above all, the triple value from exec ed is that you can work out how to deliver your strategy while on the programme – so you are learning as you are doing, shortcutting time and processes to get your delivery started
If we look at the areas covered in a typical executive education programme, you will see what I mean. We structure our programmes around SCOPE
S = Strategy – clarity of strategy and articulating it (have a look at our blog on Tesco strategy for more on this)
Then it’s all about the 90% leadership in these areas
C= Culture – how to align the culture behind the strategy “culture eats strategy for breakfast”
O = Operationalizing the business strategy
P = Performance management, how you ensure that you are measuring and rewarding everyone – from leadership to admin teams – based on delivering the strategy
E = Enterprising, keeping the strategy and your business fresh and agile
Perhaps one of the hardest areas for leaders is to understand that their role is largely about defining and articulating the strategy, not doing the job themselves. This is all about communicating the strategy in a compelling and engaging way so that everyone can understand what it is they need to do on a day to day basis.
So this is where I think executive education can deliver real value for money. Working through, testing out, articulating the strategy and stress testing it. Your leadership teams shouldn’t be working on theories but on your own strategy and business model.
This way you not only get high performing leadership teams but also ensure you are delivering that extra 10% of value and focus from your strategy.
How critical do you see executive education programmes in helping to deliver a strategy successfully? Where does it do best – and not?