In today’s rapidly changing environment, many firms struggle to keep up with daily operations, manage large projects, and build long-term strategies. Daily struggles and a lack of perspective can feel like weeding. However, an agile strategy execution helps us win tactical battles while focusing on larger goals that lead to long-term success. In this agile blog, I describe data-driven strategy execution as a role-based enterprise capacity.
In 2019, LBL Strategy performed a poll to discover why firms fail to implement their strategies. The study defines these shortcomings as:
To establish their agency’s strategy, a leadership team meets periodically (typically in a highly politicised atmosphere). Then they ask their units and teams to implement the projects and programmes chosen by lawmakers and agency executives. There is typically a disconnect between strategy and execution for individuals tasked with implementing authorised strategy instructions.
Uncovering the link between strategy, activity, and results is a difficult task in strategic planning. On average, just 20% of firms were “extremely successful” in implementing their strategy over time. The report also suggested:
This “strategy-execution gap” can lead to unnecessary costs, higher risk, missed opportunities, and ultimately failure to execute in today’s disrupted market. Execution failures result in severe losses for both the agency and the people it serves.
Agile concepts are proving to be a highly effective way to drive strategy formulation, strategy implementation, data-driven decision making, and results.
An agile strategy is developed and executed quickly. A short-cycle strategy development and execution approach is described in my June 2018 blog post, Agile Strategy: Short-Cycle Strategy Development and Execution. With continuous processes (e.g., testing, integration, delivery) and the capacity to develop and release software features not only often, but at any time, the agile community has shifted its focus. Continual strategy execution is possible when strategy creation and implementation are linked and cycles are shortened to support relevance. Achieving continuous execution requires integrating strategic aim with the organization’s people and culture. Agility keeps the plan relevant while focusing on execution and results. Two key elements of an agile strategy and execution environment are role-based, enterprise-wide strategic planning and execution, and data-driven continuous planning and execution.
Role-based Enterprise Involvement
Everyone in the organisation should understand their role in supporting strategic growth and achieving strategic goals. With a role-based, enterprise-wide capability, everyone is involved in creating and executing strategy. Rather than directing strategy, leadership sets goals, solicits input from the company, and connects assets to opportunities.
To improve consumer participation throughout the product lifecycle, for example, corporate leadership would publicise the aim and the rewards of attaining it. Their work would be empowered to attempt new things in service of the aim, as would business developers, product developers, and coders. Customers may be engaged in new ways by business development, while product development creates new methods for customers to interact with the product. Organizational teams can creatively drive toward strategic goals by designing comprehensive action plans that invite everyone to engage, from communications teams to human resources. All organisational entities, like self-organizing teams, can move toward strategic goals in their own way. Boardroom strategy is passé.
Work can be done in a way that contributes to desired goals once the organisation has a sense of success. Action plans with measures are short-cycle procedures for trying new ideas and evaluating results. Action plans should focus on strategic context, alignment with higher level goals, and measures. The company can detect big or little modifications in the client environment, such as how the client accesses the product (e.g., remotely or in person). As a result, the organisation may respond appropriately.
Staff and leadership should be able to recognise environmental changes. Executing strategy across the enterprise aligns effort and resources, adds value to activities, reduces turnover, and produces strategic and operational results.
Collaboration occurs quickly when the guideposts are recognised during strategy execution. Agile strategy execution must be data-driven. The organisation will require open criteria for evaluating projects and plans after everyone understands their role in strategy creation and execution.
An evaluation criterion for improved consumer engagement across the product lifecycle might include what constitutes better customer participation, what points in the lifecycle are of particular importance, etc. Visible criteria help identify metrics for data-driven decision making. In the case of customer participation, data may be used to support decisions.
To be really effective, all levels of the organization’s governance cadence should employ organisational data. According to the LBL survey, approximately 55% of businesses monitor and report on strategy implementation progress less than twice a year, inconsistently, or not at all, with the majority (28%) doing so only 3–4 times a year. Only 8% of companies tracked their progress monthly.
As a result of our collaboration, one organisation established a weekly and monthly operational rhythm. In this way, top leadership could communicate strategic goals to employees. Staggered meetings at several levels of the business could align operational and technical outputs with strategic intents, offer recommendations to leadership, and engage in two-way discourse regarding critical choices and key performance measurements. In-process measurements might then be utilised to analyse performance and make suggestions. During this procedure, weekly and monthly operational cycles incorporated strategic progress.
Data is essential for tracking strategic progress, evaluating results, and modifying targets, and agility helps move choices closer to the data. When data-driven decisions are the norm, executives can reuse resources from past and current accomplishments to compete in new settings.
Agility in Uncertain Times
Role-based participation in strategy and execution, backed by data-driven decisions, drives ever-relevant strategies. Successful firms will understand latest agile blogs and then employ agile approaches to plan near-term actions that lead to long-term goals and react both in response to and ahead of changes in internal and external contexts.