We described in an earlier post what an acceleration meeting is, how it should be conducted and what the benefits are. In the acceleration meetings, everyone records the weekly outcome (preferably in Howwe) and the team can immediately see their own progress. The result from all teams are summarized on a “dashboard” (digital targeting) and the overall progress is displayed. It is a very powerful tool to keep the momentum and engagement going throughout the company.
What does the dashboard show?
CEO or management (or any other recipient of the result) can see:
- It measures both results (MIG) and progress (Key Activitiy).
- It shows how each department is doing
- It shows how the company as a whole is doing
- It gives a picture of the status of each department and it makes it easy to see where measures are necessary.
- It shows whether today/this week is winning or losing compared to the strategic plan
The results from all acceleration meetings are compiled to the top-level (CEO) and connected to the top two MIGs. The compiled results show:
1. MIG — measures the outcome — how we are doing in relation to the goal
2. Key Activity — measures to what degree the activities have been accomplished or not.
When one department shows red or yellow, the CEO’s task is to ensure that steering and follow-up take place according to plan. Apart from this, the CEO’s most important function is to — with a positive and encouraging attitude — ask the leader and the team what kind of support they need to turn this trend around. The worst thing a CEO can do is to make scapegoats of the team when things are not going well. This will make motivation disappear in a flash. The CEO cannot start micro-managing in order “to help”. Strategy acceleration is based on the team defining their own activities and taking responsibility for how they are carried out. The CEO and management group have to make clear that this is also the case when things are not going according to plan. The team holds the solution, the CEO and management are only there to support.
A team can be good at the proactive parts and allocate a lot of time, but still fall behind in progress on the activities. In this situation, it is time to analyze why this situation emerged and ask what the team thinks can be the underlying reason.
We have worked with strategy acceleration for many years and within many industries — behind our method is all our gathered experience of what works and what does not. It is unique and we have never found another process that works as well. One of the reasons for the good results is the fact that the measurement of executed activities is built-in into the method’s DNA. In our opinion, measuring execution against the time plan is absolutely crucial for success. This is also the most important difference compared to traditional strategy execution, which only measures results.
What to do when acceleration does not go according to plan?
In strategy acceleration, you never change the date for the end goal. If we have decided to reach a certain revenue or profitability by a specific date, it is written in stone. It can be very tempting to push the date forward — which in turn creates an attitude that time is not important. What starts as a small slide can become a slippery slope which causes the project to fail.
Since measuring is continuous in strategy acceleration there is an opportunity to catch any deviation from the plan early. If this happens it is important to act immediately. There has to be an acceptance within the company that it is acceptable that things do not go according to plan. No one should be blamed. There is the risk that both leaders and teams start “covering up” bad results and this is not beneficial to anyone. In our experience, the results are usually back in line by the next week, or on the way to catch up. This leads to a positive atmosphere that creates energy and a feeling of a common “Go!” What achieves the best results in strategy acceleration is the feeling of striving towards common goals and the positive atmosphere this creates.
This is where leadership plays an important role. The leader can have a positive influence on the team and make the employees take ownership of their tasks. The leader continuously needs to ask the team what they think is needed in order to keep abreast of the plan. It is then up to the individuals to discuss and come up with suggestions for actions to be taken. The team should always feel that they have the management’s support and that help is never far away.
Support tools for strategy acceleration follow-up
To simplify and be able to efficiently support the acceleration process, as well as to measure the progress, a support tool is needed. As mentioned before, we measure both outcome and progress in strategy acceleration. Therefore, the tool needs to measure, manage and present both these elements in a distinct way.
Regardless of which tool is being used (even though we strongly recommend Howwe) it needs to have the following functionality:
- Ability to continuously visualize the result
- Ability to summarize all teams’ results at an aggregated level of the company
- Ability to measure historical data
- Ability to show the goal
- Ability to enter activities to be achieved
- Ability to measure progress, i.e. that every partial improvement actually takes place
There are many ways to follow up and we have seen homemade Excel solutions or PowerPoint tools that work fine. The choice of the tool also depends on what kind of acceleration you are expecting, how much priority is given to the strategy execution, as well as the size of the organization.
How much time do you spend on each activity?
The length of time an activity should take varies. Anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Our advice is to have as short time periods as possible. This helps you focus.
Reward acceleration, not only results
In most companies, managers and staff are rewarded for what has already happened, i.e. the end result/outcome. The reward can affect career or salary, or come in the form of commission or bonus. We think this is a reason why everyone keeps working in the whirlwind and only has time for the operational work — since this is what is rewarded, and what is rewarded gets done.
If you want to succeed with your strategy you have to reward the strategy work. Reflect on how your reward system works today. How can you create one that rewards the real strategy work? From the acceleration meetings you get weekly reports on progress—reward those who stick to the plan. Remember that reward is not only money. It is as important with verbal feedback and the way we talk to and encourage each other within the organization.
Acceleration meeting summary
We have now ventured deep into strategy acceleration. You now have the knowledge and tools to truly achieve the activities. By now a lot of things have happened within the organization — it is bubbling with energy and the atmosphere has tangibly changed. The result of all the work is probably already visible in the “bottom line”. Employees and managers feel content, there is positive energy around the strategy work that can be felt within the whole organization, and the sense that a lot is being achieved prevails. This is when it is important to continue on the path and have the strength and stamina to keep going. More about that in the next blog post.
Continue reading the Strategy Acceleration blog series
This blog series is based on the book “Strategy Acceleration”. It is made for everyone that wants to learn how to execute and to realize your company strategy. It will give you the practical know-how to transform your strategy from words on a piece of paper into real everyday action.