4 Critical Strategy Execution Questions That Executives Should Be Asking

4 Critical Strategy Execution Questions That Executives Should Be Asking

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Hbr Planview Jan 2022

4 Critical Strategy Execution Questions That Executives Should Be Asking

By Razat Gaurav

You live it daily: shifting customer expectations, market dynamics, supply-chain issues, sociopolitical developments. Factors such as these may have your organization rethinking everything from strategies to business and operating models.

Another concern is engaging and empowering your workforce amid all this uncertainty. Leadership teams are reimagining work in the enterprise to empower employees and pivot when change occurs.

Taking the time to question, review, and revise your models is a healthy approach in a fluctuating environment where evolving priorities and constant change require swift adaptation. Since the coronavirus outbreak, 70% of CEOs surveyed by KPMG expressed a need to accelerate the creation of new business models and revenue streams by months, if not years.

Business leaders are embracing ongoing simultaneous transformations, not only to change how quickly an organization creates value but also to determine and deliver the right value at the right time.

The challenge is how to continuously connect strategy with the work on the ground to achieve results and outpace the competition.

4 Critical Strategy Execution Questions

With these issues in mind, ask yourself these four questions to gauge your company’s strategy execution processes and proficiency:

  1. Does my executive team have a complete line of sight into strategic initiatives?

Full visibility means having timely access to the right data and analytics, which ties into a bigger picture that executive teams can see and manage across portfolios. In complex, dynamic businesses, cultivating a complete line of sight can help executives:

  • Know exactly how team delivery and initiatives are tracking against the strategic plan
  • Understand evolving relationships among strategies, outcomes, work, financials, and resources across the enterprise
  • Make smart decisions and pivot quickly before competitors disrupt the business model

Such visibility and insights require access to up-to-date information drawn from across the organization, such as financials, key performance indicators, interdependencies, and priorities.

  1. Are we regularly syncing strategy with delivery?

Having a complete line of sight makes it possible to continuously calibrate strategy, planning, and execution. 2021 benchmark study The State of Strategy Execution found that strategy execution leaders—the fastest organizations with the highest-quality outcomes—plan more frequently, which improves their ability to respond to change.

With continuous planning built into strategy execution processes, your organization can seize valuable opportunities quickly as well as reallocate finite capital and resources to the most effective initiatives. Feedback loops are critical. Work at the individual and team levels should tie back to strategy for management.

  1. Are we planning and replanning with agility?

When disruptions occur or corporate priorities change, it’s essential to shift strategies, funding, and resources. Where continuous planning enables quick pivots, continuous planning with agility enables the right quick pivots.

Organizations must understand the ramifications of moving a cross-functional team to newly prioritized work or the financial and strategic impact of pausing or canceling projects, programs, or initiatives.

The variables can get complicated and slow everything down, especially if management teams are working through the changes on spreadsheets. Capabilities such as scenario planning and modeling help leaders quickly determine the impact of potential changes and make trade-offs between proposed decisions.

  1. Are our employees engaged, empowered, and aligned with strategic outcomes?

Adapting to the changing world of work is an imperative. The best organizations are providing more autonomy to team members in how, when, and where they do their jobs. These efforts are not simply about location or office hours but enabling employees to do their best work in unpredictable environments.

Part of this adaptation is enabling teams to collaborate and visualize their work by providing the best technology. Another part is empowering teams to deliver value faster by minimizing bureaucratic processes. And still another part is supporting preferred ways of working within different areas of your organization.

But employees who are more empowered still need to be connected to strategy. The connection often breaks down at the team or individual level, which is why many organizations are undergoing transformations such as using agile strategies to engage teams in continuous planning and ensure they are working on the right things.

Executives at the leading companies are more confident that teams are focused on the right work to deliver strategic objectives and that their organizations can deliver those objectives on time, according to The State of Strategy Execution study.

Lead from the Top

By answering these four questions, you can determine your organization’s aptitude for building a complete line of sight, planning continuously, replanning with agility, and supporting and empowering employees.

Cultivating these capabilities is itself a transformation. How well you achieve the continuous connection of strategy and delivery will determine whether your organization simply survives—or goes beyond and thrives.

Razat Gaurav is CEO of Planview.

Learn how Planview can help your organization manage transformation.

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