Strategy Implementation – From thinking it to doing it!
In my last blog I spoke about the two phases a distressed business needs to consider in order to realign their business – phase one is do a strategic review, phase two is implement the turnaround.
In this blog I will concentrate on the implementation phase of a turnaround and some problems that I have experienced.
Once a strategic review is complete, the recommendations can be laid out in a 100 day workplan which contains the key initiatives to stabilize the business and build a sustainable platform for future profitability.
Key aspects of the 100 day workplan include:
- Agreeing on key initiatives
- Motivating management and employees to pursue the agreed initiatives, and
- Educating people/staff about the benefits of the implementation process
All areas need to be adopted enthusiastically or the implementation process will fail and the company will inevitably be in the same position of decline. CEOs can be constrained by others in the management team which is why it is critical that a turnaround practitioner is engaged to manage the project.
- 1. Agreeing on key initiatives
Key initiatives will come out of the strategic review together with management team ‘planning sessions’. It is important that the initiatives are kept at a high level so that the weekly 100 day workplan meeting can be conducted in a short, focused and concise manner.
- 2. Motivating management and employees to pursue agreed initiatives
This is usually the most challenging part of the implementation process as there is often group and political dynamics at play. Cultural dynamics and issues include:
- A breakdown in communication resulting from different people’s perceptions and understanding of the implementation issues
- Different views on how to evaluate performance including their own position
- A lack of consensus on change – one manager may not agree with the overall strategy or believe that it is not critical and can therefore drag out the deadlines for implementation
- An unwillingness to change
- Lack of resources
Peer pressure is utilized by co-ordinating a weekly 100 day workplan meeting of all key personnel. This will ensure that accountability is enforced across the management team as progress is achieved on the key initiatives which each team member is responsible for.
- 3. Overcoming resistance to the implementation process
Leaders need to be committed and able to deal with resistance to the implementation program and must be aware that new strategies may be resisted by managers or employees as they may feel their position is threatened.
The leader must keep a sharp eye out for resistance, lack of resources and failure to meet targets. Resistance to change often arises from an inadequate knowledge of the plan, a subculture which is at odds with the overall organizational culture, or where the staff don’t care. It is critical that any resistance is identified early and eliminated so that the necessary traction can be gained to execute the strategy successfully.
I have touched on only a few issues which can impede the implementation of strategy. I will, in future blogs, talk in further detail on some of the areas covered in this blog as there are many more tips and hints to relay in relation to this phase of the turnaround.
Kevin Higgins is a senior executive at Vantage Performance, one of Australia’s leading turnaround management and profit improvement firms – solving complex problems for businesses experiencing major change.