Paying more than lip service to strategy – key enablers
What does it take to make sure a good strategy gets realized?
Harvard Business Review states that:
‘By definition, a strategy can never actually be fully implemented because everything that you necessarily assumed when formulating it — about customers,
technology, regulation, competitors, and so on — is in a constant state of flux.’
In our VUCA world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, we need constantly ensure that our strategy is right for the changeable business context in which we operate. So we do need to be to able to flex and adapt.
However, we also need to make sure we do not fall into the trap of spending so much time on strategy and planning that we never get round to implementing what we have carefully discussed, analysed, proposed and agreed. In that case, best-laid plans remain just that, just plans. In South Africa we stand to be paralysed by too much planning and not enough action. Against a backdrop of poverty, inequality and unemployment, this could be a pot waiting to boil over.
So how do we get it right? What can enable strategy implementation?
One way is to appoint ‘strategic objective owners’. They are tasked with overseeing the achievement of a specific strategic objective. This mitigates for the risk of too much talking and not enough doing, or ‘critical strategy execution risk.’
The people appointed as owners must be strong in their ability to collaborate, influence and negotiate. These are like the pillars or anchors for success. They can bring people together to solve a systemic problem or challenge, they break down silos that we see in organisations and work towards actions and outcomes. In our context in South Africa, they can break down the silo mentality that is a feature between our various institutions, and sometimes within them. We should all be working together towards the common good, and yet we are not. This dilutes our resources and our impact.
As we face increasingly complex and urgent work issues, HR practitioners and those who sit on committees and boards of many institutions and organisations should be asking – am I a strategic objective owner within the human resources management and development arena? What responsibility am I taking for driving action from best-laid plans? Can I balance adapting and changing the plan, with still getting results? That would be a good starting point. It starts with us.