A 2005 survey identified seven factors necessary to close the strategy-to-performance gap and those factors are valid for strategic initiatives launched in the present day. The survey 197 senior executives at companies with sales of at least $500 million. You can read more here. The survey asserted that,
Companies are delivering only about two-thirds of their potential due to failures in planning and execution.
The survey asked the executives what should be done to close this gap, and there were seven ranked-ordered responses. This article lists those factors and provides links to selected articles that provide useful practices.
Priority 1 – Effectively communicate the decision(s) made as part of the strategy
In this article, I discuss the communication of a decision into the strategic initiative program, and throughout the organization. You have to be clear on the decision itself, the value that is created, and especially on the future impacts on the organization and its competitive environment.
Priority 2 – Identify specific actions in the form of initiatives, programs, projects
One important element is to recognize the definition of a strategic initiative is that it is a program designed to close a performance gap. Programs are different than projects and portfolios.
I think it is particularly important to emphasize that an organization should keep the number of strategic initiatives to a few. This article provides some evidence for why that is important.
Priority 3 – Establish milestones and track progress against them.
Timelines and project controls are useful starting points, but there is much more that is necessary for excellence with strategic initiatives.
Use program management and project management disciplines. Understand the differences between programs, projects, and portfolios.
This article describes why you should not be concerned about deadlines, and this article discusses small wins.
Priority 4 – Foster accountability so that individuals know and agree with metrics
I’ve also written on the topic of the metrics that matter.
Priority 5 – Give people the resources, authority to execute.
This article describes a helpful rule of thumb (allocate 20% of your time) for assuring that you’ve allocated enough effort.
Another important point is to develop an effective working relationship between the program manager and sponsor, as described in this article.
Priority 6 – Get the right people involved from the beginning
The program manager (a.k.a., strategic initiative leader) is probably the number one success factor, but it’s also important to have the right support expertise involved.
Priority 7 – Measure individual performance and make it more consequential.
Accountability is the willingness to have your performance measured. You can learn more in this article.
What do you think about these findings? Would you rank any of the priorities higher or lower?