This blog series is based on the book “Strategy Acceleration” written by Ulf Arnetz and Catrin Brodin. The book was developed for everyone that wants to learn how to execute and to realize company strategy.  

Too many companies fail with their strategy execution, something we brought up in earlier posts.  To understand how not to fall into the same trap as so many others we will start by looking at what it is that they do – what differentiates traditional strategy execution from strategy acceleration. We will share our knowledge and experience on this topic in the following blog posts, starting with the fundamental aspect – Time. 

 

 

Strategy Acceleration is the new way

To succeed you have to act differently and challenge ingrained opinions about what is possible. A good place to start is by being open-minded. Dare to think in new ways! We call “the new way” of carrying out strategies Strategy Acceleration.

To describe how traditional strategy execution is different from strategy acceleration we have chosen to compare them. We will share a number of factors that we see are contributing reasons why so many companies are unable to carry out their strategies within the organization. We will highlight what needs to be done differently. We will show you how strategy acceleration helps you implement changes in a timely manner and according to set targets, as well as how this is different from traditional strategy implementation.

We will look at one example where we describe how things often are done in the traditional strategy execution. You might recognize yourself in this, and that is good. That means you will be able to see the contrasts very clearly and understand the significant difference in these two approaches to work. In the other example, we describe strategy acceleration.

 

The different points demonstrate the need to think in a new way and outside the box. When reading this blog post, think about the way things are in your organization today.

 

It’s about time! Literally. Traditional strategy execution is too slow

First of all we want to change the definitions. Most companies talk about strategy implementation or strategy execution — we talk about strategy acceleration. The difference is not in the definition but in how it is actually done. Acceleration indicates that there is a need for more speed and that time is of importance. The difference between the two methods’ execution is that strategy acceleration consists of several activities within a short time frame, compared to one large activity during a longer time frame.

Traditional Strategy
We may be generalizing a bit but our common experience is that in most companies we meet, the strategy execution works something like this:

Planning

CEO and management have an idea that something has to be done, but it takes an extremely long time before they recognize that they need to stop talking and start doing. At this point, some sort of plan is created. Management, and maybe someone from the board, dedicate some time to this and sometimes an external consultant is brought in and is given the task of driving the creation of the strategy. We have often seen management groups delegate too much to external companies and as a consequence loose ownership of the strategic issues. The result of this planning phase is some sort of strategy document that has taken too long to create. It is allowed and accepted to let planning take some time; after all, it is strategically very important. The problem is that the world around us does not adjust to the management’s working pace. When the strategy document is finally ready it is already old — or, in the worst case, not even relevant anymore.

Communication

The next phase consists of a number of communication activities. The goal is to spread the message and get all employees to understand why the strategy will be executed and the desired goals. A communication plan is created and the CEO talks about the strategy at a big meeting. Then the managers’ or the Communication department’s task is to communicate and continue the work within their respective department so that more employees understand the strategy.

Implementation—also called execution

After the strategy has been communicated it is time for execution. There is seldom a plan for HOW the execution will be handled — this task is delegated to the managers in the organization. A number of strategic areas have been identified (frequently quite a few) and these areas shall then be broken down into goals for the individual departments. This results in many goals… to be defined and followed upon. There is a feeling of too much going on at the same time, all over the place.

Follow-up

There is a time plan for creating, communicating, and executing the strategy. The idea is to ensure that the goals are reached and the effect lasting. This phase is often substandard and many companies testify that they are bad at following up on set targets. The follow-up that takes place is rather an assessment of rough milestones and finally — the goal (i.e. increased revenue). After all these activities they simply hope that the goal has been achieved. If it was only that simple. Unfortunately, there are always things happening during the process that prevent goals from being reached.

 

Also, when there is no follow-up during the progress it is impossible to decide if the right activities are taking place — are we doing things that continuously move us closer to our goal?

Is this method of strategy execution familiar to you? You are not alone. Now, let’s compare this to the method of strategy acceleration.

 

We see this process time and time again and the result is always the same: it is never good enough. This method does not help us achieve our goals and it is too slow — it is not unusual for this work to continue for 3-5 years.

Strategy acceleration – leave the old, start thinking in a new way

So how is it done then? The answer to this question is: switch to the strategy acceleration method. It is simple, fast, and efficient. It is based on a number of basic elements, all contributing to your company succeeding with the strategy work.

Strategy Acceleration

Strategy acceleration focuses on how to execute the strategy in practice. It takes the strategy down from its pedestal and lets it become a powerful ingredient in every employee’s daily work. In the acceleration, we put a lot of energy into ensuring that everybody knows how the strategy will be achieved. We do not leave the important execution drifting aimlessly in the organization. Everyone is on board from the start and they know what an important role they play in this journey towards the goal — and everyone works in the same way in order to move forward.

Howwe® is a market-leading software for strategy acceleration

With Howwe® companies are able to align their strategy and workforce and identify what needs to be prioritized to reach their most important goals.

Briefly summarized strategy acceleration consists of the following areas:

  • Identifying the most important goals — focuses on few but most value-adding goals
  • End-goal is divided into intermediate goals which focus on the most important things
  • There is a clear plan of how the strategy will be executed
  • The activities that are being done are linked to the set targets
  • Anchoring (organizational buy-in) is ongoing and an integrated part of the process
  • Follow-up of results and work progress is made through continuous steering and measuring

 

In the next blog post, we’ll continue to explore the differences between traditional strategy execution and strategy acceleration, and shine a light on the goal-setting aspects.

 

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.