Great job everyone, we have given blood, sweat and tears in developing this strategy. It connects with the organisational mission, goals, purpose and values. We really hit the brief and nobody died or fell out in the process!

So what are we going to do tomorrow?

While this may seem a little odd, actually, that’s the REAL question, one which a lot of organisations fail to answer.

In my experience there are a couple of contributors to the posing of this question.

Firstly, you have spent a huge amount of time, effort and resources pulling together the strategy for the organisation and there has to be a point when we ask ourselves “is this as near perfect as we’re ever going to get it”, good enough if you like? Otherwise there is a temptation you will constantly be tinkering with it, never quite achieving absolute perfection. In my experience you reach a point of diminishing returns where any additional effort fails to provide a return on that investment. And that’s OK. Thinking about this reminds me of a quote attributed to Helmuth von Holtke stating “no plan survives first contact with the enemy”. So true, and that includes these elusive ‘perfect’ plans. Let it go!

When it’s finished and the organisation finally accepts that, the business can move on to start answering the question posed above.

Secondly, the work required to implement the strategy should never be underestimated.

Now the question about what we are doing tomorrow is a little glib, I know. But let’s be direct. That’s because so much effort can be poured into the strategy, that it is easy to forget the devil is in the detail (however tedious that may seem). And daily, relentless implementation of that strategy can easily be overlooked as something that just ‘happens’. Many of us are probably aware of the high failure rates for strategy implementation and change management initiatives. A cursory review on the internet yielded figures between 40% ~ 90% as having failed. The reason for these failures is usually attributed to poor implementation.

So I guess where I am heading here is that while strategy formulation in itself may seem difficult, the real work and test for any organisation will be on making it happen.

Even if the implementation is given due attention there are several considerations for the organisation:

  1. Culture: Do we have the culture to support our strategic goals, including alignment to the strategy across the business? This should include the behaviour the business requires from everyone to deliver that strategy.

  2. Structure: Is our structure appropriate, does it need revising, will it prevent us meeting the organisational goals, if not what does it need to look like?

  3. Communication: How will we communicate clearly, effectively and often to ensure everyone knows their role, and pulls together in a coordinated fashion.

  4. Competences & Capabilities: Does the organisation have them, what are the gaps and how can they be addressed? Let’s not kid ourselves.

There will inevitably be other considerations depending on the context of the organisation and the strategy itself, I recognise that.

Strategy in itself is a topic which stimulates a significant level of debate around what it looks like, its direction, priorities and how it is built or constructed. Personally, I enjoy this debate and feel it is the fun or creative part. What happens tomorrow is the less, dare I say it, sexy part or daily grind to make it happen and we all like the fun stuff but often neglect the less exciting elements.

Lastly, being flexible and accepting your original plan will need revision after ‘first contact’ is essential to maintain momentum during the implementation.

So, what are we doing tomorrow?

PJ

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