When you’ve seen thousands of plans – strategic plans, risk management plans, operational excellence plans, etc. – you start to notice common threads as to what makes those plans that tee up organizations for successful execution different from the plans that become shelfware. We’ve identified four principles that – when enabled and supported – will drive a culture of executing the plans in which organizations invest so much time, budget and future growth.
In this Execution Drivers Blog Series, you’ll find the best practices that we’ve seen emerge across all different types of industries that really put plans and people to work. Read about about alignment here.
If you’re suffering through 6-hour initiative status update meetings, or you’re having difficulty gaining buy-in from employees who don’t understand how their daily tasks roll up to larger organizational goals – try increasing your visibility.
Do your leaders have visibility into the status, both quantitative AND qualitative, of the day-to-day activities of middle managers and front line employees? Do they have the data they need, in the appropriate context, to make informed decisions?
To maximize their contributions to their organizations, leaders must be able to quickly and easily know the status of their team’s most important initiatives. They need visibility into what their teams are working on, the status of those initiatives, how quickly they’re progressing towards goals or milestones and any possible barriers to success. Ideally, there’s a way for everyone within the organization to see this information. This transparency creates a single version of truth and gives everyone an understanding of how the organization is performing.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality most people live in. Information lives in different systems. Gathering the information and compiling it into something useful is a time-consuming nightmare. This is becoming more and more obvious in the era of big data. Research by MIT Sloan found that the biggest barrier to “creating business value from analytics are not data management or complex modeling skills. Instead, the number one barrier by far in this year’s survey was translating analytics into business actions.” When context is lost, it becomes difficult for managers to make decisions based on the information.
Your strategic plan identifies the most critical initiatives needed to reach your goals. However, the status of those initiatives is often scattered between a dozen emails and spreadsheets. This is overwhelming and inefficient to manage – how can you make decisions about what’s most important, which next steps to prioritize or easily see which initiatives are on- or off-track, when you’re busy weeding through your inbox or compiling spreadsheets?
This process only becomes more and more painful as you spread across larger organizations with global (read: multi-time zone) footprints. For global resources to remain aligned, you need a real-time, always up-to-date, single source of truth.
A technology solution simplifies this process by compiling updates in one place. Look for a solution that keeps a track record of progress updates and comments, allowing plan builders and contributors to collaborate on each item with a clear audit log. It should also have a way to provide the “why” to explain qualitative updates, so you can look at the update within context. These features allow the system to become the single source of truth for the whole organization.
Download the guide on how to overcome other common plan execution problems by working on visibility and the other three drivers of strategy execution, or read more in our Execution Drivers Blog Series. Check out our resource library for more tips to help align performance to organizational objectives, combine all information in one place and communicate a path to success.
For the next blog in this series, read about how accountability guarantees better execution.