3 reasons why the execution of your strategy is failing

It’s september, by now you should have a good idea on what the key breakthroughs for next year are going to be. You’ve spent good time om the what and where, while your CFO and team are calculating the how far and at what cost๐Ÿ˜€. By now you have also evaluated your Strategy Deployment from this year and have a good idea on how you’re tracking.

While all your VOC, market work and analyses pointed you in the right direction, something went wrong in the execution. Even if your strategy is sound and solid, great companies know what the pitfalls are when executing on their strategy: in Lean we call this Strategy Deployment (aka Hoshin Kanri or Policy Deployment).

3 Reasons that made execution not as good as it should’ve been. Here we go:

You didn’t properly deploy your strategy vertically

Once your strategy is designed, the what, where, who and how far, it is key to deploy it vertically in your organization. All the way from the boardroom to genba, everyone needs to know what is expected, why they’re doing this and what their role in the change is. Change doesn’t happen in the boardroom, it happens at the customer site, on the factory floor or in the R&D Lab. You need to make sure people know what is expected by when, what support they will get from the leaders and that they have room to figure out the how.

The strategy wasn’t deployed horizontally

Strategy and the process of Hoshin Kanri fail inevitably when you don’t realise that you’ll need the full organisation behind your strategy and break through initiatives. If you can get things done through a single line up and down your company, it can be a great initiative, but it’s not necessarily a break through objectives probably. If things get hard and complex (like a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal), you’ll need all the brainpower, expertise and creativity in your organization. You’ll need every one to chip in. Engineering can’t deliver on innovation if HR doesn’t support with proper recruiting. Commercial teams can’t experiment with business models if Finance sticks to standard payement terms. As I’ve posted earlier around setting KPI’s, you will need alignment within the leadership team and between all departments on what is important and why. You can’t have different teams focus on different things or even work against each other. If I need support from a team I need to be sure I can ask it and can get it, because we share our KPIs and priorities. Period.

You didn’t support the organisation with proper change management and coaching.

Real strategic projects, true deployment or execution of a strategy typically involves a lot of change. Continuous Improvement, or Kaizen, is all about change. About finding new ways to do things. The result is almost always change. Small or big. Simple or breakthrough.

The thing with change is that a human mind doesn’t want change. We’re biologically built to assume the world is predictable and things work because they always have worked. It requires a mental agility of each individual as well as organisational courage of the whole to adopt a kaizen mindset in general or a strategy deployment specifically. True Lean Leadership is about this observation and the commitment to help all leaders and all teams, both vertically and horizontally. It requires a culture of optimism, belief, trust and creativity. And that all starts with leaders supporting their teams along the journey.