Implementing Strategy

Change Management Just Doesn’t Work

By Robin Speculand – Bridges Consultancy International

10%. That is the percentage of strategies that are successfully implemented. Take a moment to reflect on what that means to businesses. The time and money spent by leaders hiring consultants, analyzing customers and competition, crafting and drafting the strategy, preparing and communicating it and changing the organization is at the end of the day delivering no value to the employer, customer or shareholder!

Bridges Business Consultancy Int (the company I work for) spent 5 years researching multinationals, government bodies and local companies in Asia to identify this startling failure rate. Kaplan and Norton came to the same conclusion from their research for the Balanced Scorecard. There is a deep rooted problem in the traditional approach to change management that needs to change.

The current business equation practiced by most companies around the world is to identify the vision, mission and values – where we are going, what we do and the way we do it. They then craft the strategy to answer the question of how they are going to get there. Change management processes are then put into practice to implement the strategy.

Vision + Strategy + Change Management = Results

This is not true for nine out of ten companies. Nine out of ten times the company returns to business as usual and more often than not, it is not because the vision or the strategy was bad but because they were not implemented well.

“Companies fail to successfully implement strategy not because of bad strategy, but bad execution.” Ram Chandra and Geoffrey Colvin, Fortune Magazine

It is time as consultants we start advising our clients differently. It is time to put the spotlight on implementation. The one in ten companies who implement strategy successfully go beyond traditional change management and adopt a cluster of structured and sustained activities over a period of time.

Various tools and techniques have been created to support the crafting of a strategy such as Porter’s Five Forces, SWOT and Pest. There are numerous books available on the subject and probably just as many consultants. Now take a moment to name three tools, books and consultancies for implementation. You may list the Balance Scorecard as one of the tools, “Execution” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Chandra or even “Bricks to Bridges ~ make your strategy come alive” my own new book, as one of the books and struggle to think of a consultancy dedicated to implementation.

Thinking on implementation is relatively new and its importance is just beginning to be recognized. The catalyst is the 90 percent failure rate, and the next step is to provide companies with some structure and a framework.

Most leaders are left to their own devices on how to take the strategy to the people who are going to make it come alive – the staff members, and most staff members are unclear about why the strategy is important and what they are suppose to do.

To address this and the whole implementation challenge we developed a tool to guide clients through the implementation maze that we call the “Implementation Compassä”. It allows you to assess a company’s implementation readiness and identify the key areas to tackle. The Implementation Compassä:

  1. Works for both small and large organizations.
  2. Allows you to assess your current status in preparing to implement.
  3. Guides leaders through the eight critical elements. The degree of importance of each component varies for each organization. For example, one organization may spend more time on measurement while another focuses more on communication.
  4. Helps your organization maintain momentum throughout its journey.

In the February 2005 HBR Interview with Heinrich von Pierer, the Siemens CEO was asked, “How do you know where to begin when transforming a company? You have to do a lot of things at once. That is an important idea. You cannot transform a company along one dimension. You have to work on all of them at the same time and in a coherent manner.”

If you would like to learn more about successful implementation, the elements of the Implementation Compass and key questions to consider before embarking on your implementation journey – follow the weblink below.

These strategies for success in implementation should help to reverse those failure rates and help you convert strategies into achievements.

ON the next page, is a description of the eight elements of the Implementation Compass and key questions to consider before embarking on your implementation journey.

Article by Robin Speculand / Bridges Consultancy International 2005©

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