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Strategy Deployment
Avoid a stay of execution
We know that the failure rate of strategic plans is high, …

“…70 percent to 90 percent of organisations failed to realise success from their strategies.”(Kaplan &amp Norton, Strategy Maps, 2004)

and we know why:

“… in the majority of cases – we estimate 70 percent – the real problem isn’t [bad strategy] … it’s bad execution.”(Kaplan & Norton, The Strategy-Focused Organisation, 2001)

Under the heading Failure to Launch, McKinsey Quarterly reported that a significant number of respondents express concerns about executing strategy:

“Some 28 percent say that their company produces a strategic plan that reflects the company’s goals and challenges but is not effective.
Another 14 percent say the strategy and plans for executing it are not necessarily aligned with each other.”“ … 78 percent of those who are satisfied … say their process leads to explicit objectives that are communicated well throughout the company.””Respondents’ top two suggestions are improving the company’s alignment with the strategic plan, and developing a method to monitor progress against the plan.”

Making it happen

We suggest that there are several keys to successful execution of corporate strategy:

engagement of the right people from the outset, reflecting both their ability to contribute to the discussion, and their ultimate responsibility for achieving results
a clear and shared understanding of what the organisation is there for, and how its performance is to be measured
accurate identification of that handful of key issues that will make or break your organisation’s future
development of a balanced set of appropriate high-level strategic responses which collectively address all the identified issues
integrated implementation plans which draw from the traditional project management disciplines, but also reflect correlations and lead-lag relationships between desired strategy outcomes and intermediate objectives
a method for monitoring progress against the strategic plan
understanding and maintaining the distinction between operational management, and strategic projects
sustaining the contribution of ‘business as usual’
a means of communicating the elements of the resultant strategic plan effectively across the organisation
recognition and reward systems that are aligned with strategic (and not just operational) objectives.

As you run through this list, you can appreciate why the A1P2 approach might be so highly regarded.

The A1P2 approach provides for the establishment of a monitoring process to track the complementary contributions of ongoing operations (BAU) and transformational initiatives towards achievement of the organisation’s overall performance objective.  Strategic events happen randomly, so there is no way of knowing when you might need to revisit key elements of your Strategic Plan.  The systems thinking approach of A1P2 therefore ensures that the currency of the Strategic Plan is being checked regularly, notwithstanding any critical event.

Meanwhile, the strategies themselves need to be pursued, by implementing the initiatives within them.  If we are confident that we have identified the right mission-critical issues, and developed the right strategic responses to address them, success will depend on how effectively we deploy those strategies.  This is essentially a project management task.

“Only 56 percent of respondents say that their company currently tracks the execution of its strategic initiatives.”

(McKinsey Quarterly, Aug 2006)

Some organisations have an established corporate competence in project management that can be applied to the strategy deployment context.  In our experience, however, most do not.  The A1P2 approach is a specific and deliberate remedial response to that harsh reality.  It knows that transformational projects are the normative output of strategic planning cycles; and that if these transformational initiatives are to achieve their promise, they require something special, something quite outside and beyond the competences of operations management.

We are not precious about which particular project management methodology is adopted, although PRINCE2 is our own default because of its best-in-class characteristics.  Our concern rather is that the client organisation appreciates what is required, before it is required, in order to maintain overall momentum and achieve intended outcomes.  For that reason the issue of downstream implementation is routinely raised with our clients at the outset, the options explored and a suitable course of action determined well in advance of the identification of candidate strategies.  All along the way we work to introduce relevant concepts and terminology and thus prepare the participants for what is coming before it arrives.

Of course it may be that we are engaged later in the process, to assist with the downstream implementation of transformational projects developed by others.   The same disciplines apply.   There must be a sufficient mandate for a project, it must be supported by a business case, and that business case must be kept updated in tandem with completion of the associated work program.

 

D*Ploy© – our proprietary Strategy Deployment Dashboard for tracking dollars and deadlines

We have developed a proprietary Strategy Deployment Dashboard, D*Ploy©, which facilitates the management and exception reporting of strategic project management by our clients’ executive management.  It avoids the complexity of advanced project management tools, such as MS Project®, which may simply fail through lack of use because many executives find the software over-whelming. D*Ploy© provides sufficient functionality to hold all of the content developed in the work break-down structure of the strategic plan, and to report on the classic three dimensions of project management, ie quality, expenditure and timeliness. The development of D*Ploy© reflects our own observations about the generic weaknesses in the strategy deployment process, and the lack of practical management tools to address them.  Our Strategy Deployment Dashboard provides a natural complement to operational performance reporting dashboards, including those based on the Balanced Scorecard®.
D*Ploy© was built in MS Excel®, and retains Excel’s look and feel, which means it is familiar territory for just about every executive. D*Ploy© can be installed on the client’s desktop or server, or delivered as a bureau service.

We are also available to manage the deployment process itself if desired, as an outsourced Project Management Office (PMO) of the Chief Executive.

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