Buckling under the weight of chronic corporate restructuring, and frustrated by performers who don’t respond to carefully crafted strategic plans, high-level executive leaders are being confronted by a growing performance gap between what needs to get done and what gets done.
Sound familiar? It’s a troublesome trend that is likely happening in your firm right now. Despite the belief that their strategic plan is “ready to go,” corporate leaders are discovering that their best-laid plans are not producing expected results.
Think this situation doesn’t apply to you? Think again.
Consider the strategic plan from a CEO’s perspective.
The company has a good product.
Talented people are in key positions.
Performers have solid processes to achieve objectives.
Given this shortlist, many CEOs assume that expected results will follow. The plan is good. Now the performers only need to band together to hit the margin objectives. But unforeseen blind spots and inadequate execution join forces to undermine the carefully crafted plan, which does not survive its clash with reality.
How does this happen? Let’s identify some of the critical factors that, when not uncovered and addressed, create obstacles that slow progress and prevent achieving objectives.
Blind Spots – Corporate leaders of today face challenges unheard of 10-20 years ago. Given today’s global business environment, with the scope and pace of information, it is not possible for the CEO or executive team to be plugged into each critical factor necessary for their plan to succeed. Additionally, tactics that were successful even 6-18 months ago might be counterproductive today.
Change Fatigue – Field Generals, those mid-level executives who are charged with putting the CEO approved plan into action, have it equally as rough. They also are dealing with conditions they have not faced before. And they are often tired, scared, and frustrated. They are worn out dealing with the frequent change in objectives, policies, and execution processes. These changes, attempting to deal with the plan’s clash with reality, are all too often unsuccessful, adding to the frustration levels.
Not Understanding Field Reality – Unless these changes are generated from an understanding of the current field reality, critical obstacles to execution remain uncovered and cannot be successfully addressed.
When the strategic plan is on target but it is not achieving expected results, the problem is in the execution.
Tactical solutions are always simple, always right in front of you. But when working from a 50,000-foot perspective, and dealing with conditions you haven’t navigated through before, it is not possible to figure it out on your own.
In today’s business environment, it is only through multiple avenues of collaboration that your tactical solutions emerge.
Create and sustain relationships with multiple sources that are in a position to see the reality of a situation: trusted peers, direct reports, and field generals.
Develop avenues of communication that horizontally and vertically convey timely, accurate reports of the field reality and the progress-critical obstacles to meeting objectives.
Create processes to evaluate field reports and determine which tactics are achieving targeted ROI or need to be adjusted.
Execute clearly documented adjustments to the tactical plan, with metrics, accountability, and consequences.
Create and sustain relationships with trusted sources outside the organization.
Collaborate with an experienced, objective, sounding board, not involved in the politics or invested in the company.
Leverage the input of experts who coach your executives and key players to uncover and close critical gaps in execution performance.
These tactics, consistently executed, will create an execution culture in your organization, and then your people will “just get it done.”