The other day I saw an internet meme that said, “How to have a beach body. Have a body. Go to the beach.” It’s too bad that strategy deployment isn’t that easy. I’d love to write a blog that simply said, “Have a strategy. Deploy it.” But alas, that’s not all there is to it. While you really can just go to the beach in order to heave a "beach body," strategy deployment is actually a huge challenge for most organizations. The ones that do it successfully follow these best practices.
Involve All Levels of the Organization in Strategy Development
Before you can deploy your strategy, you must develop it. While top level leaders are ultimately responsible for setting the strategic goals and objectives of the organization and are accountable for achieving them, employees at every level have valuable insight and ideas that can contribute to a complete, attainable, and effective strategy. Harnessing the creative power of everyone from your front line employees to your senior managers makes it possible to achieve those strategic goals. After all - you hired smart, creative people for a reason. (And if you didn't, check out this post about how to include continuous improvement in your interview questions).
Communicate The Strategy Clearly
We are always surprised by how big a disconnect there can be between executive leaders and front line employees when it comes to strategy and goals. In many cases, employees are never given any information about the strategy, or if they have, it is during an annual meeting or memo which is easily ignored or forgotten. If you want to find out how well your strategy has been communicated, just walk around and ask people about it. The answers might be enlightening. Every single person needs to know what your organizational goals are if you want them to help you achieve them.
One way to make sure that strategic objectives are woven into the fabric of everyday work is to align the goals and incentives of every person, team, and department back to the organization’s key objectives. Not only does this ensure that the right things get done, but it also reinforces each person’s importance to the operation as a whole. People can directly see how what they do impacts the strategy, thus increasing their emotional investment in helping you achieve those goals.
Check in Often
Strategy deployment is not an annual exercise. Successful organizations track progress compulsively so that obstacles can be overcome before they become impossible to navigate. They notice and reward people who are contributing to progress on a weekly or monthly basis, not just when the results are tallied at the end of the year.
It is easy for strategic objectives to take a backseat to everyday tasks and the immediate problems that inevitably pop up. Using technology to visualize and track progress toward your breakthrough objectives can be a big help. When the tactics that will achieve the strategic goals are managed and tracked in software, the strategy becomes something that your employees interact with every day. You might even call that the definition of strategy deployment.
If you’ve struggled to get everyone moving in the same direction, it’s time to give these strategy deployment tactics a try. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain if you are successful.