Principle 4. Leverage Insight on Customers and Competitors
Don’t forget to look outside! Continue to monitor customer needs, collect competitor insight, and monitor the market landscape for major risks, unknowns, and dependencies. Advantage in the market flows to those who excel at gaining new insights from an ever-changing business environment and quickly respond with the right decisions and adjustments to both strategy design and delivery.
Principle 5. Be Bold, Stay Focused, and Keep It as Simple as Possible
Encourage smart simplicity. Initiating or rapidly reacting to dramatic changes in the business environment is an increasingly important capability for success. Many of the delivery challenges you will face will be complex and interdependent. In the face of this, the best way to remain nimble is to surround yourself with simplifiers rather than complicators. You need people who can get to the core of an opportunity or threat, understand the drivers, deliver the information, and take the action you need in the way you need it. That way, you minimize bureaucracy, explore ideas, take appropriate risks, prioritize work, ensure accountability, and focus on delivering value through your strategic initiatives.
Principle 6. Promote Team Engagement and Effective Cross-Business Cooperation
Beware of the “frozen middle.” Gain genuine buy-in from middle and line managers by engaging and activating them as strategy champions rather than just as managers and supervisors. Don’t just assume your people will “get it”—leadership must firmly establish a shared commitment to strategy-delivery priorities and regularly reinforce it. This isn’t the time or place for subtlety. Govern through transparency to engender trust and enhance cross-business cooperation in delivery.
Principle 7. Demonstrate Bias Toward Decision-making and Own the Decisions You Make
Follow your decisions through to delivery. Commit to making strategic decisions rapidly. Move quickly to correct course, reprioritize, and remove roadblocks. Accept that you likely won’t have all the information you want, and rely on those you can trust to deliver sufficient reliable input to allow thoughtful decisions. Consider and address risks and interdependencies explicitly—both up front and regularly throughout delivery. Build a lean and powerful governance structure to reinforce accountability, ownership, and a bias toward action, based on agreed metrics and milestones.
Principle 8. Check Ongoing Initiatives Before Committing to New Ones
Resist the temptation to declare victory too soon. With the right governance, leadership, rigor, and reporting capabilities in place, you can regularly evaluate your portfolio of strategic initiatives. Add new initiatives in response to new opportunities, but first be sure you understand both the existing portfolio and your organization’s capacity to deliver change. Actively address any issues you discover. In the long term, strategic initiative management discipline—critical for effective orchestration of a dynamic initiative portfolio—will work only if robust assessment, support, and course-correction are in place.
Principle 9. Develop Robust Plans but Allow for Missteps: Fail Fast to Learn Fast
Proper planning and preparation prevent poor performance. The old axiom is as true as it ever was, but in today’s business environment, strategy planning cycles must be more rapid, dynamic, and agile than in the past. Empower program delivery teams to experiment and learn in an environment where it is safe to fail fast. Discuss challenges openly, and adjust the plan as needed for success. Learn to reward failure, or at least accept it as valuable input.
Principle 10. Celebrate Success and Recognize Those Who Have Done Good Work
Inspiring people is part of your job. Yes, you have to drive accountability and focus on delivery, but you also need to motivate those who do the work. Actively shape a winning culture by engaging and exciting the people responsible for delivering strategic change programs. Celebrate successes and quick wins. Generously and publicly acknowledge those who demonstrate the leadership behaviors and program delivery capabilities that make strategy succeed, and ask them to share their experiences. Effectively reducing or eliminating the expensive and unproductive gap between strategy design and strategy delivery is a complex task, but it is possible. Its complexity is the result of too many moving parts. Organizations can design very thoughtful and innovative strategies that will support sustainable growth and competitive advantage. But, the benefits and outcomes of a well-thought-out and effectively designed strategy will come only if there is the same level of dedication and commitment to develop and sustain strategy delivery capabilities. Both strategy development and implementation are essential.
Excerpted with permission from The AMA Handbook of Project Management by Paul Dinsmore and Jeannette Cabinis-Brewin, copyright Paul Dinsmore and Jeannette Cabinis-Brewin.