Management Articles


7 Ways to Improve the Chances of Your Strategy Succeeding

By: Brian Ward

Brian Ward is a principal in Affinity Consulting. He helps leaders, teams and individuals acquire new knowledge and wisdom through their consulting and educational work. He can be reached at t

Like most strategic maps, yours is probably missing some important details. But then that 'cool' project team that your manager kindly volunteered you for last week will soon fill in the missing details...or will it? Most strategic project teams learn early on in their work that "the map is not the territory" or as one executive we know was fond of saying "never confuse a memo with reality!"

But it needn't be that way...

There are some simple approaches to planning and implementing strategy, that once followed will dramatically increase the chances of success for you and your organization.

Here are seven ways for you to improve the chances of your strategy succeeding...
  1. Always explain why the strategy is being pursued...and let people know clearly what's at stake. You'd be amazed at how little attention this gets.

  2. Strive to build momentum and confidence with small early wins. Treat this as your warm-up phase. Some organizations even call the first year of their strategy implementation 'Year Zero'! Don't go for the home runs in the first couple of innings...even professional athletes need a warm-up period

  3. Acknowledge and celebrate the past...then move on!

  4. Build the organizations capacity to execute projects that are focused on customer outcomes, not just budget and on-time delivery.

    NOTE: The Conference Board of Canada advises that one of the key skills employees need in today's project oriented organizations is the ability to plan, design, or carry out a project or task from start to finish with well defined objectives and outcomes.

    SPECIAL NOTE: If you are not training and developing your employees in this critical skill, then you're inviting disaster.

  5. Give everyone a role to play, not just project team not create an 'elite' corp of project teams.

  6. Create 90-day pilot tests of all new ideas and products/services/programs...if it can't be tested within 90 days (or less), break it down into smaller pieces that can. Absolutely, and without blinking, make this your product, program, service and process improvement mantra - see point 2 above.

  7. Celebrate successful change initiatives...senior leaders must (read MUST) lead these celebrations. And while you're at it, make these celebrations, and change in general, fun...if you don't, people will confuse it with work...and you know how boring that can get!

© Copyright 2003 Affinity Consulting. All rights reserved.

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