To continue the discussion about the elements critical to successful strategy development and execution, I’m next turning to the one that I believe is most often overlooked—dedicated resources.
All of the other elements that I have already discussed in previous blogs—leadership, making the case for change, accountability, and sharing a vision—are absolutely critical to effective strategy execution. In my experience, however, they are worthless unless the organization sets aside dedicated resources to implement the strategy initiative.
By resources, I mean people, time, and a little bit of money. The people do not need to be dedicated to the project full time. However, they need to be told that something like one-quarter to one-half of their daily work time should be dedicated to the project.
The project leader should be fairly high up, at least an assistant vice president or equivalent. He should be given a “core team” of two to three additional individuals who will be the organization’s strategy evangelists in charge of driving the project across the enterprise. This team should also have one-quarter to one-half of their time dedicated to the project.
If some of their normal workload needs to be transferred to someone else, do it. This sends the message that strategy is important. I’ve seen too many strategy development projects fail because the project leaders can’t get away from their “day jobs” to dedicate the time. Therefore, the project lingers on and on—the days that should elapse between meetings turn into weeks or even months and before you know it, a three-month project has gone nowhere in a year.
As my discussion has already revealed, the time aspect is closely intertwined with the people part. However, other people whose participation is required at a much lower rate also must be given permission to dedicate the time to the project, when called upon. That means that when they get an invite to a strategy meeting, “I have another meeting” is not an excuse for not participating.
The invite to participate in strategy development and execution is the excuse everyone has been looking for to get out of the daily grind and do something different and more meaningful. The strategy cannot be developed and implemented solely by a small team of strategists. Input is needed from across the organization.
Finally, the strategy development team needs some funding—not much, but some. No one ever wants to part with their own budget to fund an outside project. Therefore, a small “strategy tax” should be levied on all departments to help fund the team.
The strategy team will need to create posters and other communications collateral to help spread the word. They will probably have to pay for IT resources to build the company strategy intranet site. They will even need to pay for the bagels, muffins, and coffee they serve at their meetings.