… by creating the conditions that enable your organisation to pull itself towards its target future.
Once a strategy is accepted, the focus usually moves to implementation or, as some prefer to call it, execution. The assumption is that if the changes outlined in the strategy are implemented, the target future will be realised and the business case achieved. For some strategies, this is indeed the case; for others, it is not so easy.
For example, if the strategy was to reduce operating costs by closing a plant or divesting a business, implementation is relatively straightforward: plans can be developed and progress measured against them. But what if the strategy was more transformational – requiring a fundamental change of trajectory? In these situations is it really possible to set out detailed plans and execute against them? In our view, no.
Implementation – as it is generally practised – aims to push the present into the future. It is predicated on the assumption that successful implementation is achieved through the execution of a series of steps, where each step takes the organisation closer to its target state.
The main weakness of this approach is that it assumes organisations are deterministic and ‘programmable’. Yet we all know that this is not the case. Organisations are not predictable, particularly at times of significant change; they are dynamic systems that respond – often in unforeseen ways – when attempts are made to change them. As a consequence, an implementation plan is always out of date. And what is more, having such a plan can lead people to believe that it is someone else’s responsibility to action it: namely the people implementing the plan.
An alternative approach – and the one that we strongly advocate – is to pull the present into the future. With this approach, a context is created where people can exercise their judgement, apply their experience and use their expertise to pull the organisation from the present into its improved (target) future.
However, the challenge with the pull approach is that it needs to be embedded within the organisation in ways that lead to intellectual, emotional and physical engagement. And this can only be achieved if the right context is created – a context where everyone in the organisation can constructively contribute to pulling the present into the future.
We can help you create a context where strategic intent is translated into operational reality.