Last week, Chris Willis and I tackled the perennial and difficult issue of closing the gap between strategy and execution. It’s been around for as long as we’ve had strategy. So, a while.
And there’s good reason for the ongoing challenge. We’ve created silos of activity that are sometimes only tangentially aligned with our strategy. Related maybe, but often disconnected.
Because at the end of the day, most strategies are not actionable. They are directionally correct, and well-intentioned, but are not woven throughout the fabric of our teams, our work and our tech. The true question is, then: How do we infuse all of our activities and our focus on work that is part of our strategy?
Know thy strategy: Keep it front and center. A viable strategy is not shelf-ware. It’s apparent in everything we do, and can even drive our decisions.
Make it actionable. Take the next level down from strategy to planning and defining how it will be implemented across teams and their work. If you’re targeting a specific vertical or audience, what are the specific success criteria? How many assets will you create to satisfy needs throughout the buy cycle? What other teams will help you define those? When we contemplate creating new materials, standing up new programs, or engaging new audiences, does this complement, accelerate, and support the strategy?
Be transparent and collaborative. “I’ve shared our plan, I’m done, right?” It goes beyond socializing; you need input to the strategy and plan before you even begin. What are the organizational goals, how are they reflected in the strategy? Best case: By the time you’re built your plan, there are no surprises–everyone is savvy because they’ve not only contributed but they also understand how they participate and benefit from its execution.
Make tech work for you (not the other way around). The best systems and processes support what you want to have happen. They make it easy to do the right thing. Find ways to embed your strategy in what your team interacts with on the daily? In Kapost, we can tie every activity, every asset, and every message to the overarching themes that tie to strategic initiatives.
Be dynamic. Check in with your strategy periodically. Do you need to revise it? Does it still map to your goals? Is it reflected in your work? If your team is doing all the right things, and it doesn’t contribute to your strategy, consider the strategy itself may be at fault. Inspect and adapt.
It’s not easy (or everyone would be doing it!), but it is possible. Working across your teams, how you do things, and what you use to do your jobs you can close the gap. Well, narrow it at least.