Overview to Launching and Communicating Strategy
So, you've finally created a great strategic plan. Your nearest and dearest love it. Your leadership team has been involved in the whole process and is ready to rock.
In today's article, we're going to share 3 simple steps that will help you to launch and communicate your strategy to everyone else.
Here's a quick recap of our series so far:
- Writing your strategic plan
- Sharing your plan with others
- Launch and communicate your strategy (This Article)
Follow our 3 step process to launch and communicate your strategy:
Step 1: Create a mini communication plan
Don't worry, this is actually really easy. Basically, you need to start by drawing up a list of the key stakeholder groups you want to launch and communicate your strategy too.
Note that this is very different from what we did in the last step of the process, where we were seeking feedback from these groups.
This isn't about feedback anymore - this is about inspiring and galvanizing your key stakeholders around your shiny new plan, and getting them to spring into action.
OK, so who might you want to include in this communication plan? It will vary of course, but here's a cheat sheet of the usual suspects:
- Senior Leaders
- Everyone else in the organization
- The board
- Key customers
- The public
Once you've put together a list of your own, you need to figure out what outcomes you want to achieve from each of these communications.
Defining your outcomes will help you to structure your messages and communication technique as you go through the process of launching and communicating your strategy to your key stakeholders.
Here are a few examples:
That board members have confidence that our goals are sufficiently ambitious, without being overly risky.
That they're confident that we have the resources to deliver this plan, and that they will be regularly updated on its progress.
When you communicate your plan to this group, you'll probably end up toning down the hype behind the plan and focusing on the hard business outcomes.
Stats and specific KPIs will help to demonstrate to this group that you've thought deeply about the detail of the plan and can be absolutely trusted to deliver it.
Let's look at an example at the other end of the spectrum...
To give inspiration and hope to our customers that they've made the right choice in choosing us as a provider.
That they're doing business with an ambitious, innovative, and progressive company. That they themselves are a valued part of the organization's current and future success.
Unlike the board communication, you won't be focusing on detailed numbers or stats and your language should be much more inspirational and motivational. Even though you're communicating the same plan, your delivery is going to be very different!
It may seem obvious that you'll deliver differently to different groups, but take the time to plan out your messaging for each one anyway - when you're up there in front of people, that extra little preparatory step will be 100% worth it.
Step 2: Invest in a little wow factor
You've worked hard to get to this point with your plan - maybe you've even spent a fair bit of money too. Don't let that go to waste by delivering your plan with a boring old PowerPoint presentation! And worse still, DO NOT deliver a new strategic plan message by email!
The benefits of spending a little extra time and money on delivery are centered on one inescapable fact: If your people see that you've invested in this new strategic plan, they'll take it so much more seriously.
When we work with clients in our cloud strategy tool Cascade, we try to encourage them to record videos focusing on the key elements of the plan (the vision statement, the focus areas, etc).
Those videos then become a key component of the delivery (i.e. they're played on a big screen at the launch event) but they also become a reference point for new employees joining the company to use to get up to speed of what their new organization is all about.
If you are using a cloud strategy tool for the first time, that in itself will give you brownie points as something new and innovative.
Here are a few more tips and ideas to bring your plan to life:
- Hire an animator or graphic designer to create cartoons for your Focus Areas (one of our African clients did a great job of this using safari animals to represent their Focus Areas - The Lion (Financial Growth), The Giraffe (Innovation), etc.)
- Arrange a fun launch party that is solely dedicated to the launch of the strategy (don't tack it on to some other event, that sends a BAD signal about its importance!)
- Invest in some of those cheesy but surprisingly effective desk toys, branded with your new vision/focus areas
I'm sure there are plenty of other great examples that people have seen of bringing life to strategy - leave us a comment below!
Step 3: Follow up with people
It's important to launch and communicate your strategy to your people, but it's even more important to make sure they take action. One of the most common criticisms of strategy launches is that they have all this fanfare, and then everyone just goes back to their desks again and carries on with business-as-usual.
We're going to be writing a dedicated guide to make sure this doesn't happen - but in the meantime, there are a few things you can do that we'll cover here.
Here at Cascade, we encourage clients to use surveys to send out a quick follow-up, right after the launch event, to capture people's feedback about how it all went. With the best will in the world, there will always be aspects of the plan that people didn't quite understand, or that they felt were unrealistic.
The sooner you can capture and respond to this feedback, the more credibility you give to the entire process. Surveys aren't the only way to get this kind of information.
Ask one of your most trusted colleagues to keep a close watch on the people you're launching to (it's hard to do this yourself when you're in full flow). Try to read their faces, and gauge their levels of excitement and engagement.
Whatever feedback method you use, you absolutely must follow up your launch event with a material change that weaves the new strategy into people's day jobs.
This could be monthly strategy forums appearing in people's diaries or a bi-monthly strategy communication (by email or even better in person). More on this in a future article, but at the very least, be sure to send out that survey!
We'd love to hear your thoughts on our 3 step process to launch and communicate your strategy, and in particular, if you have any hot tips for making strategy fun and exciting - share them in the comments below for everyone else to try!