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Some Pitfalls of Implementing Strategies

1. Demonstrate the need for change

In any organisation, once the beliefs and energy of a critical mass of people are engaged, conversion to a new idea will spread like an epidemic. Most chief executives try to make the case for change by pointing to the numbers. But messages communicated through numbers seldom stick. To frontline managers they are too abstract and remote. A far better approach is to put the manages face-to-face with the need for change in ways they canít deny. Each case is different but experience shows there are patterns that work and patterns that backfire.

This is one of the areas where I as your Change Agent earn my keep.

2. Search out the positive

Most organisations start off focussing on what is not working rather than what is working. The trick is to start looking for the good in the organisation and wherever we find it amplify it. In any organisation some stuff is bad and some stuff is good. Usually what's good is far bigger than what's bad and within the good stuff there's some that's brilliant.

Organisations change in the direction in which they inquire. Organisationís that inquires into problems will keep finding problems but organisationís which attempts to appreciate what is best in itself will discover more and more that is good. It can then use these discoveries to build a new future where the best becomes more common.

3. Small Things Matter

Recent research has backed my experience with change, that little things matter far more important than most managers believe and certainly more important than almost all change consultants think. During change the organisation is closer to chaos and all the evidence shows that under these conditions small things matter; get them right and the change goes smoothly, get them wrong and it stops and no-one knows why.

Managers are often so close they donít see these things or if they do see them they think they are so small they canít possibly matter. As your Change Agent itís my job to maintain objectivity and distance so these things are not missed.

4. Value Proposition

Sometimes execution fails because the Value Proposition is unclear. See separate Product on Value Proposition.

5. Alignment

Sometimes execution fails because the culture, leadership style, service delivery or branding is poorly aligned to the Value Proposition. Alignment is the source of competitive advantage. If there is a series of internally consistent, integrated activities, competitors find imitation is almost impossible. See separate Product on Strategic Alignment.

6. The dimensions of change

As most managers know, the best laid plans are often perverted by self-interest, misinterpretation, or lack of necessary skills to reach the intended goals.

Before implementation can be properly executed 9 factors need to be aligned and working together with the strategic direction; 3 Physical dimensions, 3 Infrastructural dimensions and 3 Value dimensions all need to be carefully aligned to make sure the that supporting and reinforcing the strategy rather than working against. Many managers put far too much effort into changing the physical dimensions like structure and technology when they should be putting far more into 3 Value dimensions.

As your Change Agent itís my job to help direct effort into all 9 dimensions, especially the 3 Infrastructural dimensions and the 3 Value dimensions that are most difficult and add most value.

7. Involvement

Most top managers try to sell their strategy to the troops, unfortunately they seldom buy it. The way to get everyone understanding the strategy and committed to it is to let them sell them selves. This is explained in a short video.

76% of strategies fail during implementation partly because managers fail to design strategy processes that allow enough time (and practice) for people to make significant changes to their habits. As a result old behaviours re-establish themselves and quickly most of the focus and energy from a strategy workshop is dissipated. I am an expert in designing processes that are inclusive and as a result people own the outputs.

8. Accountability

No strategy is completed until every single person in the organisation has a job description which is closely aligned to the major organisational strategies agreed. Yet in my experience this hardly ever happens.

9. Measurement

All organisations need a few good Key Performance Indicators that will show that you are on track towards your strategies.

10. Developing motivation

Employees must not only recognize what needs to be done, they must also want to do it. Many managers recognize the importance for getting people motivated to make change, but they make the mistake of trying to change incentives throughout the whole organization. That process takes too long to implement and can prove very expensive in a very large company. Another way is to single out the key influencers, people inside or outside the organisation with a disproportionate amount of power. There are often only a few of these and it?s relatively easy to identify them and motivate them. Put them under the spotlight, give them special incentives, bring them together in meetings, create challenges and get them on side.

11 Politics

Politics is a fact of life when it comes to change. It's best to recognize it and plan to eliminate it. People who fiercely and vocally resist the change may need to be removed. Key influencers both internal and external need to be identified and brought on-board.

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