Hi, I’m Alex Nesbitt and this is the Strategy podcast.
This podcast is part of a series of podcasts that I’m producing on the nine mistakes that companies make when executing strategy. These are mistakes that make strategy much harder to execute. I see them in lots of companies. I thought sharing some of these common mistakes that companies make could be useful to you and helpful to you in your strategy development and execution process.
In this episode of strategy podcast, I want to focus on the second mistake I see companies make as it relates to strategy execution. And the mistakes that make strategy execution hard. The second one is really overestimating alignment.
You’ve done some strategy work, and now you’re trying to move into execution. There’s a tendency to overestimate the amount of alignment you actually have with respect to the strategy.
There’s been some studies done, surveying executives asking them to list their company’s top three priorities and when they did the survey they found that only half of the executives really could list those top three priorities. When you got down lower in the organization there’s only about 20% of people who could list write the top three priorities. So, it’s clear that there’s some disconnect between the strategy process and the way the organization is aligning against it.
If you don’t get alignment on the strategy then it’s clear that you’re going to have some execution go off in a way that’s different from the strategy. So, the first thing, issue that happens is we all may hear the same words in the strategy development process, but we may interpret them differently. So taking the strategy initiatives that you come out with play them through a little bit.
Understand where there might be conflicts and choices that need to be made within those initiatives, make sure everybody’s on board with that, so they can actually all refer back to the same basic idea. And the same thing that you’re trying to get done. You don’t want to be playing the telephone game with people not being able to communicate effectively what the strategy is and what the initiatives are and who should be doing what.
You want a great deal of fidelity in that communication to take place, so that people deep within the organization are hearing the same message as the people at the top are hearing. Skip levels can help with that, but fundamentally the only way you really know this is happening is to survey the organization. Ask them what they think the strategic priorities are and make sure that they actually are reflective of what the strategy is. Right, that testing is the only way you really have an idea of have you closed the loop on getting alignment in the strategy.
Some companies may also be able to do more advanced work in understanding, if they look at their strategic agenda and they do quantitative and qualitative analysis on things like the calendering system, or email systems, to understand are the way people spending their time, or the things they are talking about directly related to the strategic agenda or not. That’s something that’s a more advanced capability that really requires the ability to do some data analysis as it relates to the information that’s embedded in some of your communication systems.
But if you don’t have that, that’s okay, but make sure you close that loop. Do a survey, understand deep in the organization, what they think the strategic priorities are and make sure they’re reflected back to what you want them to be and if they’re not, you got a lot more work to do to make sure that loop gets closed.
I hope this episode of the strategy podcast has been helpful and useful to you in your work. My name is Alex Nesbitt, and I’ll see you in the next podcast.