Why Can’t They Just Cooperate? Frustrations with Strategy Execution

strategy execution

Early in my strategy career, I was assigned the difficult task of coercing the busy executives in a large organization to comply with our strategy management process. Specifically, we wanted them to cough up their monthly performance measure data and to document (and dare we hope, to manage execution of) their initiatives by using something other than a bunch of post-it notes stuck to their monitors.

I would lurk around an executive’s office until he/she gave up and provided us the information we sought. Month after month, I would make the rounds.

Of course, walking the office and begging for info is so old school. Today, most organizations use more advanced methods to collect information – the person in charge of strategy can now sit comfortably at his/her desk and use email to remind his/her colleagues to update their strategic progress and use tools to collect this information, such as spreadsheets, word documents, and slide decks.

Sadly, even though technology has advanced, human behavior has not changed. Most executives and managers still ignore processes and deadlines which forces the strategy office to go old school and beg. Why? Because our colleagues don’t report to us and we have little leverage over them. Not to mention that they are understandably consumed with their daily operations.

But surely, they understand that successfully managing and executing strategy is critical to transformation, to growth, to survival… for all of us. So, why won’t they cooperate?

What I’ve found is that when the strategy office is responsible for collecting, aggregating, and reporting information, the rest of the organization is shielded from the spotlight of accountability and responsibility. The information flows into the strategy office, is aggregated by the strategy office, and is then disseminated via reports by the strategy office. This process clouds the transparency and accountability and relegates strategy to a “side of desk” reporting activity that competes for attention with operations.

I tried an experiment at Corporater. When we first developed our strategy, I asked initiative owners to document their strategic initiatives using a Word template as a temporary device while we configured Corporater’s BMP product to manage our strategy. But the request for them to send in documentation fell on mostly on deaf ears. Word, Excel and email are weak tools for ensuring compliance.

But then a “miracle” happened. I sent a note to my colleagues that the Corporater BMP was ready, everyone had access to update their own initiatives, and tomorrow’s strategy review meeting would be conducted from inside the software – with a focus on the Level 1 initiatives. The process had shifted from the strategy office asking for information to operational employees being responsible for managing their strategically important work in a live, transparent system. Literally, within hours, information started flowing into the system as people signed in and began documenting their project plans, tasks, milestones, measures, and providing commentary regarding progress. Corporater’ s BMP enabled the strategy office to step out of the way and let the spotlight fully shine on employees, across the entire company, who actually execute strategy. There are now no more shadows to obfuscate the truth. True and timely visibility allows colleagues to hold each other accountable for strategy execution while also ensuring we pay attention to operations.

Are you struggling to get your colleagues to cooperate with your organization’s strategy management process and to integrate strategy execution into operations? For 18 years, Corporater has been enabling organizations to improve performance. Let us show you how.