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by David Grau

Strategy execution is where breakdowns in the change process usually occur. Great plan, poor execution. Here are suggested best practices for change leaders and the work groups they sponsor:

Executive Sponsorship

  • Sponsors are executives that take the lead on behalf of the leadership team to ensure that each strategy is executed flawlessly. They form the work groups that will be responsible for the creation and implementation of a project plan for each strategy.
  • Work groups ideally have between 6 – 8 members. Select employees with both the necessary technical competencies and the ability to work well as members of a team. Designate a group lead. Talk with the supervisor of each group member to make sure that the employee has the time required to fulfill their responsibilities as a work group member.
  • The sponsor meets with the entire group at the first meeting laying out the expectations of the executive team for strategy execution in the form, once again, of a SMART goal. As a review from Part I of this article, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and indicate the Time by when the goal will be achieved. Group members are invited to ask questions and provide their feedback as to their thoughts on the intended outcomes. All group members need to be in alignment with the strategy outcomes.
  • The sponsor and group lead should communicate once a week, even if for 10 minutes, so that the group’s questions can be answered and the sponsor can be updated on the status of the project plan. The sponsor drives the process and ensures that the plan is being executed appropriately and on time. Sponsors are very busy people. Make it a priority to keep in touch with your group lead so the group sees that you are as engaged as you want them to be.
  • The sponsor may get invited to an occasional group meeting to be asked questions or for group members to propose changes based on discoveries made as they step through the project plan. Make changes if needed and also be aware of scope creep, the desire of the leadership or group to accomplish more than planned. Do that only if absolutely necessary. The risk is that the change that prompted the strategy will be delayed leading to negative consequences for the organization.

Communicate Progress

  • Quick wins generate momentum. Each work group should achieve an important milestone within 4 weeks of their first meeting. It lets employees know that the change is for real and progress is being made.
  • Provide a weekly update that comes directly from you, the leader, on the status of the change initiative. Let people know what to expect over the weeks ahead. Keep everyone engaged in the change process. Celebrate successes and reward and recognize the people actively involved with implementing the change.

Tracking Performance

  • As with the overall goal of the change, each work group creates a scorecard with key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure that once implemented, the strategy is achieving its goal and is making the intended difference in support of the entire change effort.

You’ll know the change was truly a success when instead of being seen as a “new way of doing business” it’s seen as “the way we do business,” and what you envisioned at the start of the change process becomes a reality.

See next, Leading Organizational Change – Part IV

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