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Can your Organisation Implement Strategy?

Posted on April 26, 2018

Does your organisation have the skill and bandwidth to implement strategy? 

As a consultant, I take a deep dive into the details of an organisation, look at the competitive landscape, conduct thorough research and data analysis, diagnose issues and identify opportunities that lie ahead. Then, I summarise it in a report; lay the situation out clearly in data graphs, articulate points about the new direction you need to take and define steps in a pathway to growth and transformation.

That’s the ‘easy’ part. Next, comes the real work.

Whether or not your organisation is already good at managing time, whether or not everyone is feeling positive and excited about the future, whether or not you’ve decided to cut an old program or feature to build in the mental capacity, time and energy to devote to new strategy… you’re more than likely time poor! You may also lack the right skills and employee mix to implement the tactics that will get the best result from your goals for the future. Every new project, idea or approach adds complexity, training and lead time. 

The fact is, I find that most organisations struggle to have enough bandwidth to implement even the best, leanest strategy.

This is especially true for small to medium organisations, where many people wear many hats, and prioritisation and forward-thinking is exhausting or even confronting. Sometimes, key roles are missing, or the structure of the business doesn’t quite align in a way that facilitates the implementation of the strategy. Change requires strong leadership and a firm, guiding hand. Fully implementing a new strategy takes a minimum of two to three years, often demanding culture change.

Pulse Check

It’s at this point that organisations must reflect and assess. What do market-leading firms do that we do not yet do? The simple answer is that market leaders are who they say they are. They live and breathe their strategy. Their strategy is embedded in tactics that are implemented across the organisation. Most significantly, they understand the importance of the consumer experience and the role of innovative thinking and business agility in remaining at the forefront of the game.

They understand their customer intimately, they ask their customers what they think about their programs, they know how many calls they take in their call centre, they know whether they’re meeting their key performance indicators or not, they act quickly when they have above-average complaints, they ensure that their customers are happy and likely to recommend them to a family member or friend (they know their Net Promotor Score!). Their marketing reflects their business. It’s not made up in isolation by a disjointed marketing team.

The following four ‘triage’ questions will give you a clear picture of your organisation’s health in comparison to your market leaders:

1.       Is our structure going to facilitate the new strategy?

2.       Do I have the right people in the right roles?

3.       Is everyone aligned to the new strategy?

4.       Do I have a high performing—or at least functional—team in place?

If the answer to any of these questions is NO (if it’s hard to be objective, seek an independent assessment) you must gather the courage to act. If poor performers impede the implementation of strategy, then deal with this now so that your whole team benefits in the long run. 

How can I increase bandwidth without overcommitting?

I often see organisations that are people heavy, leaving little budget for the implementation of any tactical activities. Take marketing, for example. There is such a broad range of skills necessary for effective strategic, product and tactical marketing. In order to access the breadth of skill you need, you may require two or three different people—when you may really only be able to afford one person.

An outsourced model for marketing strategy and implementation makes better use of resources and better sense:

  1. It allows you to do what you do best.
  2. You gain access to highly professional outsiders.
  3. You outsource all the worries of training, mentoring, appraising new employees and building a creative culture.
  4. You get multiple skills, one source. A modern marketing campaign requires many skills of a high standard, including strategic insight, program or service delivery design, media management, public relations, graphic design, data analysis, content writing, website coding, social media, SEO, analytics and account management. Unless you find one person with all of these skills, it may cost you way too much.
  5. It’s better value for money. When you take into consideration superannuation, holidays, training, hiring and management time, it’s can be more cost effective than developing an appropriate in-house team.
  6. You don’t have to buy the expensive software or train people in how to use it.
  7. Everyone can write but not everyone is a writer. Your employees have other work to do. Producing good copy (which is more than putting words to website/email/flyer/blog) is not only difficult but usually becomes the last priority. 

For small to mid-sized operations, outsourcing some roles and functions can be a life-saver because not everyone who makes a contribution has to be an employee. Outsourcing gives you the flexibility to dial up or down activity as needed, whilst allowing you to tap into highly-skilled people. And, of course, this means that you don’t have the pay burden on an ongoing basis.

Your brilliant new strategy is only worthwhile if it can be well-implemented. Your whole organisation needs to get it right, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice along the way. Social Impact Institute is here for you. We provide support at the leadership level as well as throughout an organisation so that you have the bandwidth, skills and expertise to grow and succeed:

  1. Clarity – Strategy, review, planning, executive advisory
  2. Business Sustainability – Consumer experience, marketing and communications, technology implementation, fundraising and business innovation
  3. Impact – business and data analytics

I hope to speak to you soon! Contact Social Impact Institute on 1800 822 763 or info@socialimpact.institute for an initial consultation.

Kathryn Carey, Senior Consultant

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