The #1 Key to Strategy Implementation Success

Often when I kick off a project with a new client and we are setting out our initial milestones and project goals the conversation turns to how often change projects fail and what can be done to prevent failure. They ask: What is the key to our project succeeding?

Over the years, clients expect to hear what I would call the “usual answers” such as communication, an executive champion, or getting employee buy-in early in the project.  However, with a recent client that is—so far—experiencing extraordinary success, I have learned that while all of these are important, there is another key aspect of any project that may be the most important way to ensure success.

To ensure the success of a strategic change project such as a Balanced Scorecard implementation, the client should appoint a high-level project manager who will be held accountable for the project’s success.  The high-level project manager in the instance of this client is the Assistant Vice President for Strategy.  I can’t think of a more ideal project manager for a strategy project.

As far as holding the AVP accountable for the project’s success, a significant part of his annual bonus hinges on the successful implementation of the Balanced Scorecard across the organization.  In addition, his boss and the CEO also have goals in their personal performance plans tied to the success of the project.  Therefore, not only does the AVP have incentive to do everything in his power to ensure the successful implementation of the project, but the Senior Vice President and the CEO do as well.

With this particular client, this incentive system works great because the CEO and SVP trust the AVP to successfully implement the project, however, they are willing to step in should any road blocks crop up.