In this series we are talking about connecting – connecting to people, connecting people to the business results you want, and getting those results.
In Step 1 you selected up to three of the most critical strategic themes or objectives. In Step 2 you mapped these themes to your Strategy so that key objectives can be prioritized and contrasted (it is not uncommon to have conflicting objectives that need to be sorted out). And in Step 3 you prioritized so that you’d be sure that what is most important gets done.
Now before we move on, it is critical to have a plan for identifying and removing roadblocks. You will face at least one. I’m going to list a few of the most common ones here, along with answers that have worked for others. I’d love to have comments and additions from readers.
Here are three common roadblocks to getting what you expect:
ROADBLOCK 1: “They” think…I’m not involved in Strategic Planning …so (what you are expecting) doesn’t relate to me/my role.
You can’t involve everyone in creating the Strategy…so how do you gain their commitment to the strategic priorities?
Translate Strategy in a way that relates to each role, and this is what you communicate. Preferably you will relate it to their role. And to really get that “ah hah!” from them, show the relationships from what they do to the final objective… all the way through and across other roles to its final effect on one or more strategic objectives. Note that you may hear me speak of this as “cascading” you Strategy.” The process is simplified by technology, and specifically aimed at Strategy Mapping.
ROADBLOCK 2: “You” think…Our Strategic Plan is a document we only occasionally refer to. We run our business from Financial Statements and a Budget.
Financial Statements and Budgets are important, so why do I refer to them as a roadblock? I, along with many others skilled financial folks, could paint you just about any picture you want … if we project out far enough. When it comes to figuring out what has actually happened, why it happened and what might be done about it, the available resources in most organizations are often missing or weak.
Reduce your risk of not knowing (and the cost of hiring a high priced consultant like me to help you figure it out) by following this system of continuously aligning people with your Strategy. Later you can automate it my way or some other way.
Financial Statements give you a summary format of results of many variables. A full set of statements, ratios and variance analysis to budget are helpful and necessary for managing your business…but they never will be able to change behaviors or even identify and fix disconnects between what people do, and what you expect.
You need to communicate expectations and align people’s actions with your expectations, continuously. And you need a system that wraps this context in with financial results.
ROADBLOCK 3: “Systems decision-makers,” which likely includes you think…We have the best of breed technology including ERP, BI, CPM, BSC and more. I can’t imagine why this isn’t good enough (and I am certainly not going to replace these; they cost a lot!)
Good news: you do not have to rip out existing systems.
Bad news: it is highly likely that what you have in place has been misapplied if you are counting on these applications to provide you “One version of the truth” and “Strategy as everyone’s job.”
While there are a few examples of organizations that go through a detailed strategic alignment process between Strategy and roles each year, what is automated and practical in today’s economy to manage, is simply not in place. Enron had sophisticated systems. So does AIG. So do likely all of the banks. Do you think any organization in trouble today had a Strategic Plan in place that called for a collapse (or bailout)? Unlikely.
Certainly what has transpired in Corporate America over the past few years has many complexities and I’d be brash to oversimplify…
So I’ll just leave you with two thoughts and ask you to consider if you have these roadblocks: a) Are the actions (or inactions) and thoughts of people included in daily, weekly, ad hoc, monthly and other decision-making information? b) Are executives included in your performance measurement system as employees, not only as evaluators?