4 New Years' Resolutions for Guaranteed Strategy Execution Success

I say it to just about every client I work with—coming up with your strategy is the easy part, ensuring successful strategy execution, that’s the challenge.

Whether your organization executes its strategy using the Balanced Scorecard or some other strategy management framework, here are five New Years’ resolutions you should keep to ensure your strategy execution success.

  1. Identify just one measure per strategic objective that will enable you to track how you are doing on that objective.  If you try to track your progress with multiple measures for each objective, reviewing progress can become over burdensome very quickly.  If you have 15 objectives, that all of a sudden is 30 measures instead of 15.  We want reviewing execution to be about having strategic discussions, not creating headcount, in an organization
  2. Set stretch, not easy to achieve, targets for your measures.  While you may not be able to do this for every measure, you should try to do it for most.  After all, you are executing and reviewing strategy to improve your organization’s overall performance.  Setting easy to achieve targets is inconsistent with this mindset.  If people are protesting about the targets being set, you are probably on the right track—it will light a fire under them.
  3. Agree to review your progress at least four times per year.  While conducting strategy review meetings monthly is an even better practice, it can be a little too much for some organizations.  Do it any less than quarterly and you won’t be able to make course corrections as quickly as you may need to.  Your strategy, after all, is a hypothesis that if you do A, B, and C, you will get results X, Y, and Z.  As soon as you learn it isn’t working as you had predicted, you need to make changes.
  4. Get your president/CEO/executive director to talk strategy at a town hall or all hands meeting.  Communications always gets short shrift when it comes to executing strategy and I have a theory or two why this is.  First, leaders often believe that they just have to tell their team to do something once and it will get done.  Really?  Second, the team that developed the strategy knows it inside and out and therefore it feels redundant to have to communicate it out over and over again.  But this is just plain wrong.  You can never talk about strategy execution too much with the troops--just change it up a little to keep it interesting.  Get your organization’s leader to talk about strategy every chance he or she gets.  It helps drive home the importance of it as well as helping people remember the strategy.

I don’t want my suggested resolutions to be impractical because there is no better way to ensure you will be ignored.  So, if you can resolve to do just these four things in the coming year, it will go a long way to helping your organization successfully implement its strategy.