We are often asked about the need to prioritize the two most important initiatives and goals — what about all the other things we are supposed to be doing?
“We have a lot of other goals to achieve. If we don’t we will not succeed”.
There is a feeling that we have to do everything, but the fact is that this is exactly what causes many companies to fail. The core of strategy acceleration is focusing on the right things. This does not mean that everything else comes to a stop. Instead, it means that the goals and activities that contribute the least value are down-prioritized and make space for the goals that really add high value.
A cool thing we have seen a lot is the feeling of getting a lot more done in general when using the three disciplines of acceleration — in addition to the two most important initiatives. We believe this is because everyone learns HOW to do things, HOW to get things done. When they start noticing that things really get done they become encouraged and it creates positive energy moving forward.
The goal is not to do a lot of things – the goal is to do the right things
The image above illustrates how CEO/ management creates focus by deciding on two MIGs. The orange activity icon in the boxes symbolize that different departments/teams/employees all focus on achieving these two MIGs. With a bit of imagination, can you envision the power that strategy acceleration can create within a company? We know what a powerful experience it is to be surrounded by people all focusing on the same thing as you move forward. Make sure you become this kind of company.
Different time perspectives on the varied goals in the staircase
How long are you allowed to work on a MIG? How long should it take before a MIG is achieved? It depends. Our advice is to not create too long time intervals. If you set a goal that is too far into the future, e.g. five years, it will be difficult to relate to it. It will be hard to keep the focus here and now. Breaking down long-term goals in smaller portions reduces the risk of losing focus. A company that sets up a goal to increase their revenue from $500M to $1000M in three years can break down this process and keep high energy by setting yearly goals. What do we need to achieve in one year in order to reach the goal for year three? In general, you can say that a MIG higher up in the acceleration staircase has a longer time frame while a MIG for a department, team, or employee usually is shorter than a year. This moves the goals closer to the individual and paves the way for a lasting commitment over time.
How do you identify the right activities in order to achieve the MIG?
This is another critical part of strategy acceleration — to identify and prioritize the activities that are most important to reach the MIGs. A common mistake is to identify too many activities. It is hard to let go of some, everything feels important. It is difficult to prioritize and decide on as few activities as possible — the most important ones. In strategy acceleration, we focus on a maximum of two simultaneous activities per MIG. More than that is not necessary. And it is better that fewer, but vital, things get done at a steady speed, then having everything stagnate.
Every MIG at each level in the acceleration staircase can have a maximum of two activities — it has to be the two most important ones, which an individual or team member will perform. The activities have to be measurable, influenceable, and achievable for those who have set them. Since every person has identified their own activities the level of fulfillment will be very high. The level of motivation in the team is simply higher and more intense. To decide your own activities based on your own area of responsibility brings the strategy closer to each individual’s daily work. The individual contribution becomes clearer and the strategy does not feel like a separate process. We see a substantial difference in increased commitment from everyone when you work this way. This is the key to the success of the whole acceleration process.
The illustration describes how to define activities that will contribute to reaching the goal. It might feel a bit backward, but we say: Start from the end. By this, we mean that the first step is to define the end goal (i.e. the set MIGs)—based on this you start defining the activities that will bring you to the MIG the quickest. We strongly recommend not to have more than two simultaneous activities at each level in the staircase. As soon as you try to add more activities none of them will be properly executed. When activity one and two are done, new activities found to be the most important are formulated. Continue this way until the goal is reached.
The advantage with this method is that you do not decide all activities from the beginning (the waterfall method), but instead you decide the most important ones first—and then choose new ones when the first two are accomplished (iterative process). This way there is a continuous evaluation of what is most important at the time. We promise that the activities that you define later will not be the ones you would have planned in the beginning.
It is true – anchoring through the Acceleration staircase creates a change in behavior
By now you know that a change in behavior within the organization is an important element to succeed with strategy execution. We have seen a number of companies invest time and money in communication, workshops, and discussions to make managers and employees change their behavior. Many fail and often money and energy are wasted. You cannot talk your company into a change in behavior — things have to be done to have any effect.
One of the most exciting things to see is a real change in the behavior of the employees. When this change occurs, the old way of working disappears and something new takes its place. It is always great to see! We have seen how the use of the acceleration staircase contributes to true behavioral change. By methodically breaking down the goals to the individual level, by involving the employees in the work and regularly follow up, you create the desired behavior and a higher degree of motivation.
Having worked with change processes for many years this feels almost revolutionary. Finally, a method that actually works in changing and sustaining a new behavior. Normally, this is one of the most difficult things to achieve. When anchoring is integrated within the organization, the strategy also becomes an integrated part of everyday work. It sparks engagement, desire, and willpower in people. The power that is freed up is enormous. We have seen companies transform in front of our eyes and people achieving things not even they thought were possible. This is why we really love our job!
Hopefully, we have managed to explain what anchoring is and why it is so important. That it is something entirely different from traditional communication and that it can only be achieved by involving everyone who is part of the strategy acceleration. We have explained why people and behaviors are the most important things in executing a strategy — it is the people in the organization that actually do the work. That is where it is decided whether you will succeed or not. Your employees are the most important resource in strategy acceleration. Anchoring is not permanent, it needs maintenance — but when it is well established it is time for the next step. In the next blog post, we will talk about how you can ensure that the activities that we talked about here are executed and accelerated.
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.