In our previous blog posting, Strategic Initiatives – Getting the Job Done!, we walked through the process of identifying and prioritizing those initiatives that will help your organization achieve the goals defined in its strategy. With this posting, we examine the best practices that will help your organization deliver on those initiatives.
From its research on the effectiveness of strategic planning efforts, the Brightline Initiative learned that only 1 in every 10 organizations can successfully deliver on all of their strategic initiatives. The predominant reason? Failure to develop meaningful and actionable implementation plans. How can your organization avoid this fate?
First, the Architecture
Foremost among the best practices that underpin successful strategic initiatives is establishment of a framework to help drive the associated work activities. This framework can be aligned with your current workflow or you can introduce a more structured approach that will ensure progress on the various activities.
As part of the overall framework, we recommend that the organization adopt project management best practices. Not only does such a framework facilitate consistency, efficiency, and accuracy in tracking progress, but it also tends to be accepted by staff. Why? Because it provides them a clear path to deliver on the initiatives while also helping them understand how the overall effort will unfold and what their responsibilities will be with respect to the initiatives.
Next, the Activities
While you can use a high-level process map to visually depict the lifecycle of each identified initiative and corresponding project elements, the following activities are generally key to kicking off any initiative:
• Scope Definition – Use a project charter or other template to help capture the work activities that are and are NOT to be performed in support of the initiative. This document will be used to help communicate the initiative to the project team and other stakeholders.
• Stakeholder Identification – Early in the project lifecycle, ascertain who will be impacted by the initiative. This critically important activity enables the Project Lead to effectively plan communication and change programs for the various stakeholder groups.
• Risk Assessment and Response Planning – Discuss the various risks associated with the initiative so that the project team can also identify potential responses. This activity helps ensure that the project team is prepared well ahead of time to mitigate negative impacts should the identified risks come to pass and, thereby, keep the work activities and the initiative on track.
• Communication Planning – Develop a comprehensive communication plan that provides for timely delivery of needed information to all stakeholders in the format that is meaningful to them.
Finally, the Assignments
Also key to the strategic-initiative delivery process is the review of roles and responsibilities with everyone who will be working on the initiatives. As noted in the Harvard Business Review article titled How to Prioritize Your Work When Your Manager Doesn’t (2017), over 90% of employees don’t fully understand their company’s strategy or what is expected of them. Assigning ownership of various tasks to specific project team members goes a long way to countering this problem while also establishing a standard for including staff in important activities that will define your organization’s future. Keep in mind that throughout this strategic planning process, you have captured ideas from staff and incorporated those ideas into the overall plan. Therefore, the staff will be one of the main contributors to the delivery of the initiatives and the successful realization of the strategic goals.
And As an Added Bonus…
The outlined approach provides for consistent reporting on the progress of the overall strategy while also establishing the template for a repeatable process in support of a sustainable program for achieving your organization's strategic goals.
It’s time to deliver!