We're lucky enough to have hundreds of organizations from startups to multinationals implementing their strategy using Cascade. We spoke to eight different CEOs from eight different industries to ask about their top tips for implementing a strategic plan successfully. Specifically, what would be their number one piece of advice for other leaders trying to successfully implement a strategic plan.
We asked our panel of CEOs a simple question:
What is the single biggest thing that you've learnt to make sure that your strategy actually gets implemented.
This is what they had to say:
Strategy Implementation Tip #1
From the CEO of an American Fortune 500 Insurance Company
"Accessibility is the key. Making the strategy fun, relevant and not overly complex. I once saw a strategy document that had 3 pages of diagrams explaining how the different parts fitted together before saying a word about the strategy itself. I knew it wouldn't work and surprise surprise, 6 months later it was scrapped and we started again."
Strategy Implementation Tip #2
From the CEO of an American Manufacturing Company
"The biggest thing I've learnt about strategy is that I can't be the one to make it up. I need the people who are going to do it, to be the ones who come up with it, otherwise the buy-in just isn't there."
Strategy Implementation Tip #3
From the CEO of an Australian Accounting Company
"For me, it’s about ensuring that we focus only on the things that we can control. When we focus on these things, we focus on the actions that have the biggest impact on the majority, not the minority."
Strategy Implementation Tip #4
From the CEO of an Australian Credit Union
"Actions must be relevant, measurable and owned. Too often we use weasel statements to describe an action and the objective gets lost in the rhetoric. Regular meetings that only consider strategy execution are also critical to ensuring entity-wide engagement."
Strategy Implementation Tip #5
From the CEO of a South African Non-Profit Foundation
"It is often not the strategic plan itself that will ultimately determine success but the consistent discipline of keeping the plan and associated goals front of mind with regular and repeated evaluation of progress. Strategy is often largely perceived as coming up with the big ideas and insights, and much of the energy is focused on this, while the real magic is in making it happen."
Strategy Implementation Tip #6
From the CEO of an Australian Technology Company
"People always say to me 'starting a business is tough'. That's true - but I’ve learned that the hard work really starts when you reach the 'end of the beginning'. That’s when the translation of vision into strategy becomes paramount as is having the right people in your business who deliver real tangible results. That’s what really counts."
Strategy Implementation Tip #7
From the CEO of an Australian Hospitality Company
"Simply this: when the going gets tough, your values get going."
Strategy Implementation Tip #8
From the CEO of an Australian Consulting Company
"Strategy needs to be inclusively planned so it doesn't get panned. Concise and clear. Trackable and transparent. A stretch but not a strain. Flexible else it becomes foolish. Regularly reviewed and regularly rewarded."
Themes: Inclusiveness, Focus & Simplicity
Looking at the responses - three clear themes emerge. The strongest of these themes is that of inclusiveness. Nearly all of the tips from our CEOs touch on this topic. The general consensus being that if people aren't involved in the creation of the strategy, they'll be much less inclined to be passionate about actually delivering it. This lines up perfectly with our own experiences of why strategies sometimes fail - lack of buy-in was the number one reason we identified too.
The second identifiable theme is that of focus. The need for focus seems to manifest itself in two distinct ways. The first being focus around the deliverable's themselves. They must be clear, concise and realistic. The second is around keeping focused on progress. This means the need for regular strategy meetings and reports.
Our final theme is one of simplicity. Our own findings working with strategy line up perfectly with the tips above that touch on the fact that complicated strategies rarely succeed. Rather, your strategy should be simple and easy for your people to understand.
We would love to hear your own number one strategy tips. Drop us a line via the comments section below and let us know what you think!