What is the strategy execution problem, whats its impact and why did we create StrategyWorks to solve this challenge?
The need for a strategy execution solution
Having clear organisation objectives is paramount for success to help everyone including shareholders, staff, partners and customers create certainty and clarity about where the organisation is heading and why.
Whether these are growth, simplification or cost reduction objectives, a supporting strategy of how you plan to achieve your objectives is vitally important.
Once your objectives and strategy have been created, one of the most challenging areas is defining how will you execute your strategy.
Unfortunately, the failure rates for executing strategy are high, ranging from 60-90% of all organisations failing to execute their strategy (Harvard Business Review, 2021).
The hallmarks of failure
There are lots of reasons for failure of strategy, but one of the biggest challenges which leads to failure, is that either people understand the strategy, do not understand their role in strategy or they do not know what they need to do to help drive the strategy and achieve future objectives and outcomes.
Because of this, many teams focus on the day job, working on building or operating products and services without really understanding the impact this work has on strategy.
Developing strategy execution maturity
Another fundamental challenge to the successful execution of strategic objectives is that the strategy execution maturity or capability of the organisation may be much lower than is required.
By maturity, we're referring to the fundamental ability of the organisation to execute the strategy that has been laid out.
For strategy execution, this can present in several different ways, but commonly, this means that the projects and programmes required to support the strategy, are run in unstructured or ad-hoc ways, with multiple different tools used by different teams in different ways. For example, some teams may maintain a well-oiled machine and update systems on a near daily basis, with a team member responsible for overseeing the quality of the information that all team members view.
Other teams, may hardly update systems weekly and the quality of the information is generally poor.
In this kind of environment, it is easy to first think about how to get all teams to the same, common level of capability and maturity first rather than worrying about the impact of their work on strategy.
However, this can be a big mistake in our experience. Without a single overall framework or common way of working and rationale why teams need to change, it can be difficult to create commonality and consistent standard from the ground up.
The most effective method of change is to drive from the top down and to create a reason why commonality is important and use that framework to drive a minimum set of capability and standards across the teams.
Lack of a single view of strategy
With the advent of cloud-based project systems and ways of working, it is easy for teams to track and manage progress of their work, whether it is agile delivery in tools like Jira or Azure Dev Ops or more traditional delivery of progress in tools like Microsoft Project or SmartSheet.
Using these tools, each team can track what’s going on, progress made and the tools can make it easier to collaborate between team members particularly where teams are distributed.
However, when you want to bring this execution together and understand what is happening across a department, within a transformation programme or across the whole organisation, it can rapidly become and minefield, labour intensive, slow and very manual.
Not only is it difficult to create a single, common view of progress of work, but understanding the relationship or dependencies between different teams, in different parts of the organisation and creating a common view of execution or progress frequently becomes a highly manual, human-driven process.
The speed and automation at the project level, quickly turns to slow, unwieldy, error-prone human-based processes where teams take progress, interpretation of progress is based on old non-integrated views of information.
This presents another challenge, which is how to understand the work different teams are performing and how this comes together to support the strategy.
For many organisations, nobody single person has the single view of strategy which shows how all execution across the organisation combines to deliver the strategic objectives of the leadership team and ultimately drive success.
As a result, few people, if any, know what to do differently, what to accelerate, what to prioritise and how to drive harder to outcomes.
These decisions are often left to gut instinct of leaders based on their current best understanding. For smaller organisations or less complex portfolios this might work, but for large, complex change programmes which have many dependencies across delivery streams this can be a tempting but significant mistake.
Accelerating or stopping the wrong activities can have profound impact on resources, timelines or dependencies causing further delays, cost and frustration.
What soon follows for organisations in this position are extracts of data stitched together (often with errors), converted to complex Excel spreadsheets and then turned in to PowerPoint decks which are presented days, weeks or even months after the work has been completed.
This static snapshot of information, if it ever was correct, is now badly out of date and worse still, the recipient of the information has no way of knowing how accurate it now is and has no way of drilling into any information or getting any real insight other than the interpreted message that has been presented.
At no point in the process, does anyone have a complete view of all execution work and how it supports the strategy. There is no way to see the work supporting the outcomes of the leadership team and worse still there is no data-driven, live way of analysing and understand what is working (or more importantly, what isn’t).
While it sounds far-fetched to explain this process flow, this is exactly what happens in many organisations both mature and growing that have not yet adopted data-driven strategy execution tooling.
The StrategyWorks solution
These reasons and many more, are why we created StrategyWorks. We poured decades of learning and experience of seeing what challenges organisations face and used that to create a beautifully simple solution that enables everyone involved in leading and driving strategic change to understand the strategy and know what they need to do to be successful.
StrategyWorks is not just an OKR tool measuring performance metrics, it is a complete strategy execution software platform which manages all aspects of strategic change and execution. It provides a live, integrated, single view of strategy that everyone involved in change can see and drill through.
It shows the leadership team how all delivery work progressing against timelines and the degree of support for the strategy. It shows the performance of KPIs and OKRs both strategic and operational KPIs and OKRs. It shows who is doing what through detailed RACIs, and most importantly, it enables the leadership to drill from outcomes to execution and the teams involved in execution to understand the impact they have and what they need to do to be successful.
Simply put, StrategyWorks is next generation strategy execution software that addresses the historical failures and creates a completely new way of driving strategic outcomes.
StrategyWorks also includes our execution methodology and framework embedded, which enables any organisation, large or small, to accelerate strategy, create transparency and create a single, view of strategy linked to outcomes. This reduces risk of failure, creates, clarity and transparency and most importantly, enables everyone to know whats working and why.