Although almost every organisation now has a formally defined and agreed strategy, multiple studies have shown that most organisations fail to effectively implement these strategies. These findings highlight the critical importance of strategy to the modern organisation - even though only about 1 in 5 strategies are successfully implemented, organisations continue to invest large amounts to develop new strategies. In many organisations, investing to be better at implementing the strategy may offer better value than investing to develop a new / different strategy.
The factors that cause strategy implementation failures are well known, as are the corrective steps organisations with failed or failing strategy implementation programmes can take to improve their chance of strategic success. Broadly, the corrective steps relate to two dimensions of the organisation:
- Configuration - Ensuring that the organisation has the management structures and / or processes to support the additional tasks required to implement a strategy
- Communication - Ensuring that the organisation’s internal communications about the strategy and associated implementation programme are effective
Having two dimensions to address may explain why some interventions that are intended to improve strategy implementation effectiveness themselves fail to deliver the results expected. For example, adding a ‘Strategy Management Office’ (SMO) can be part of the steps needed to correct issues in Configuration - but on its own it may not be enough to address other issues within the Configuration dimension - such as wider management process integration. Adding an SMO may also fail to address the issues found in the Communication dimension.
Knowledge of the causes of failure has over time encouraged the development of many recipes for successful strategy implementation. Some years ago a US academic reviewed the most well know of these recipes, and identified some common elements that they all shared. 2GC has used these ideas to inspire the development of a practical integrated set of strategy implementation corrective steps - the ACME Strategy Implementation framework - which underpins all of 2GC’s strategy implementation work today.
Our clients usually have a well developed Strategic Plan in place before they approach us to help with strategy implementation. However, sometimes clients ask us to help in developing or polishing their strategy to ensure it is ready for successful implementation. 2GCs consulting team comprises highly qualified and experienced strategy consultants, ready and able to deploy a broad selection of well established strategy development tools as required. Where a client requires specific specialist expertise - such as sector or technology specific knowledge - 2GC is able to draw upon its large network of connections to bring in such specialists as required.
Our work in this area relates to the development within an organisation of the management processes and staff groups needed to support strategy implementation. Typically this work involves the creation or development of the unit charged with oversight of strategy implementation, such as a Project or Strategy Management office. But in 2GC we go beyond this to also consider the adjustment of related management processes (e.g. budget setting, personal appraisal / goal setting) to ensure strategy implementation tasks are recognised by those processes and priority conflicts between the various processes are minimised. As required we also work to develop general management awareness and skills to support the management of strategy implementation as an activity.
In our strategy implementation work, we are guided by the sage comment of a pioneer of strategy implementation thinking - Lawrence Hrebiniak - who coined strategy implementation's equivalent to medicines hypocratic oath - his principle of minimum intervention:
“In implementing strategy managers should change only what is necessary and sufficient to produce an enduring solution to the strategic problem being addressed”
Lawrence Hrebiniak & William Joyce
Implementing Strategy (1984)
2GC's ACME framework describes the steps a single entity needs to take to implement a strategy. But in complex multi-layer, multi-divisional and multi-geographic organisations, the concept of aligning an organisation behind a single strategy is difficult to apply. The different parts of the organisation are designed to do different things - under these circumstances deploying a single strategy that can be deployed across all units requires a strategy that is sufficiently generic to apply equally well to any unit. Such generic strategies are likely to be ineffective - strategic success requires pursuit of goals that are specific, and clearly differentiated from those in competing organisations. Likewise subsidiary units can find it hard to engage with generic corporate strategic statements - although the terms are understood, the unit managers struggle to translate these statements into appropriate and relevant local goals.
2GC has worked on the development for methods to bridge this gap between overall strategic intent and the creation of locally relevant, actionable, interpretations of these goals. We have worked on several major strategic alignment programmes, and have evolved a truly effective set of methods and tools to support efficient and effective strategic alignment projects. 2GC's methods are tested, time efficient and cost-effective.