3 keys to successfully launching a new strategic direction
Over the past year, I transitioned from senior corporate leadership to strategy consulting for small and medium enterprises. One of my key observations has been that the same strategic execution challenges that large corporations face are often the same as those faced by smaller enterprises.
Companies often spend extensive time and resources to develop strategy which never gets off the ground. The inertia to move forward with a new strategic direction often gets lost in the shuffle of current priorities and a lack of focus.
Based on countless engagements in strategy development and execution over 25 years of experience in the field, I have observed 3 keys to successfully launching a new strategic direction that will dramatically increase your chances of implementing your strategy and successfully achieving your business goals.
Key #1: Your future starts with a strong strategy, and if you don’t have one, the investment to build one is well worth it
Companies that succeed have a defined strategy based on a clear vision, mission, and set of goals.They carefully evolve and shape their strategy over time as market conditions change. Clarity only comes from a concerted effort to step back and assess and align the many disparate internal and external elements that impact an organization. Specifically, this means taking the time to invest in powerfully defining:
● Your market, your target customer, your unique value proposition, and your competitive positioning
● Your vision, mission, and goals (such as financial, brand, market share, etc).
● A set of strategic planks that support your overall goals
● Well defined key performance indicators (KPIs) of success so your progress can be measured and you can pivot and adjust as needed.
Key #2: Alignment and senior leadership endorsement is a critical enabler for any new direction
Lack of support from senior leadership is the top reason strategies fail. This means executives need to actively endorse the company’s chosen direction, align their department’s activities in support of the new strategy, and communicate their participation across the organization.
If a leader wants to successfully pursue goals, they must publicly put their name and reputation behind them. There needs to be a transparency of initiatives in an organization. Employees want to know what is happening, what their role is, why it is important they contribute to the greater mission, and have an opportunity to give feedback and play a meaningful role. It is imperative that there is:
● Top down communication
● Two way interaction with employees and stakeholder to share progress and gain input and feedback into the journey
● Regular publicly shared checkpoints on progress, both the good and the bad
Honest communication drives engagement, loyalty, and trust. Without it, initiatives fail.
Key #3: Sufficient funding is necessary to ensure your strategy moves forward.
Execution must be adequately resourced. Leadership must put their money and other resources where the market opportunity is and where they are placing their bets. You can always test commitment by assessing resourcing levels. If there is money to fund strategic initiatives, then the initiative has a chance of being executed. At a minimum, you must ensure you have:
● Adequate resources to support deployment
● Clarity on which resources will be allocated when, and who has accountability to move things forward
Every investment takes time to generate a return. Every situation is different, but in my experience it often takes 12 to 18 months to see a meaningful return on a new strategic direction.
These 3 keys may sound self-evident and straightforward. In practice, competing agendas and pitfalls make them difficult to align and address.
At Wentworth, we run our clients’ plans through these and other important filters to determine whether their current plans are setting them up for success. If there are gaps, we systematically work with them to refine the plans and often walk alongside them during the execution phase to keep the process on track. We’re always available for a complimentary introductory conversation to discuss your challenges and opportunities and discuss how we can help.
Your success is our success…that’s The Wentworth Way!
Senior Advisor, Strategy and Transformation