First, organizations successful at
implementing strategy develop detailed action plans... chronological lists of action steps
(tactics) which add the necessary detail to their strategies. And assign responsibility to a
specific individual for accomplishing each of those action steps. Also, they set a due
date and estimate the resources required to accomplish each of their action steps. Thus
they translate their broad strategy statement into a number of specific
Next, those successful at implementing
strategy give thought to
their organizational structure. They ask if their intended strategy fits
their current structure. And they ask a deeper question as well... "Is the
organization's current structure appropriate to the intended strategy?"
We're reminded here of a client we
worked with some years ago. The company was experiencing problems implementing its
strategy calling for the development of two new products.
The reason the firm had been unable to develop
those products was simple... they had never organized to do so. Lacking the necessary
commitment for new product development, management didn't establish an R&D group.
Rather, it assigned its manufacturing engineering group the job of new product development...
and hired two junior engineers for the task. Since the primary function of the
manufacturing engineering group was to keep the factory humming, those engineers kept
getting pulled off their "new product" projects and into the role of the
manufacturing support. Result – no new products.
Human Resource Factors
Organizations successful at
consider the human resource factor in making strategies happen. Further, they realize that
the human resource issue is really a two part story. First, consideration of human
resources requires that management think about the organization's communication needs.
That they articulate the strategies so that those charged with developing the
corresponding action steps (tactics) fully understand the strategy they're to implement.
Second, managers successful at implementation
are aware of the effects each new strategy will have on their human resource needs. They
ask themselves the questions... "How much change does this strategy call for?"
And, "How quickly must we provide for that change?" And, "What are the
human resource implications of our answers to those two questions?"
In answering these questions, they'll decide
whether to allow time for employees to grow through experience, to introduce training, or
to hire new employees.
The Annual Business Plan
Organizations successful at implementation are
aware of their need to fund their intended strategies. And they begin to think about that
necessary financial commitment early in the planning process. First, they
"ballpark" the financial requirements when they first develop their strategy.
Later when developing their action plans, they "firm up" that commitment. As
a client of ours explains, they "dollarize" their strategy. That way, they link
their strategic plan to their annual business plan (and their budget). And they eliminate
the "surprises" they might otherwise receive at budgeting time.
Monitoring & Control
Monitoring and controlling the plan includes a
periodic look to see if you're on course.
It also includes consideration of options to get
a strategy once derailed back on track. Those options (listed in order of increasing
seriousness) include changing the schedule, changing the action steps
(tactics), changing the
strategy or (as a last resort) changing the objective. (For more on this point, see
"Monitoring Implementation of Your Strategic Plan.")
Linkage - The Foundation for
successfully establish the above five
supporting factors. They develop action plans, consider organizational
structure, take a close look at their human resource needs, fund their strategies through
their annual business plan, and develop a plan to monitor and control their strategies and tactics. And yet they still fail to successfully implement those
strategies and tactics. The reason, most often, is they lack linkage. Linkage is
simply the tying together of all the activities of the organization...to make sure
that all of the organizational resources are "rowing in the same direction."
It isn't enough to manage one, two or a few
strategy supporting factors. To successfully implement your strategies,
you've go to manage
them all. And make sure you link them together.
Strategies require "linkage" both
vertically and horizontally. Vertical linkages establish coordination and support between
corporate, divisional and departmental plans. For example, a divisional strategy calling
for development of a new product should be driven by a corporate objective
perhaps –- and on a knowledge of available resources
–- capital resources available from
corporate as well as human and technological resources in the R&D department.
Linkages which are horizontal
–- across departments, across
regional offices, across manufacturing plants or divisions
– require coordination and
cooperation to get the organizational units "all playing in harmony." For
example, a strategy calling for introduction of a new product requires the combined
efforts of –
and thus coordination and cooperation among
– the R&D, the marketing,
and the manufacturing departments. For more on the subject of linkage,
please see Linkage: The Foundation for