Your business' strategic mission is far too important to be communicated in confusing language - time for a new approach?
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The word “strategy” has long been associated with war. It derives its roots from Greek military terminology, and is synonymous with a general devising a plan for battle. But thinking of corporate strategy like this, in today’s technology-driven market, is out-of-date.
The most successful modern companies are adapting their approach to corporate planning, finding more collaboration in strategy and less a simple execution of military-like orders.
That’s not to say that leaders rallying their troops and motivating them to get behind the corporate mission isn’t important anymore. Arguably, doing this is more important than ever.
However, what is changing in thriving companies is that strategy is becoming a much more collaborative, dynamic effort; no longer a lone leader sitting down once a year fixing a rigid annual plan, instead strategy initiatives are thoughtful and organisation-wide, involving input from employees at every level.
For high-performing, fast-growing companies, “agile,” “collaboration,” and “iterative working” are not merely buzzwords bandied around in the boardroom, but a way of corporate life.
Unfortunately however, these trailblazers are the exception rather than the rule: currently only 23 percent of companies use a formal strategic planning process to make important decisions and in 52 percent of companies these decisions are made by a small senior group rather than in a collaborative way.
Old ways of working still pervade corporate life
Why such poor stats when collaboration is clearly so fundamental to business success today? Simply put, it’s hard. Shifting to a collaborative culture where employees are engaged and empowered to contribute actively, in real-time, to strategic goals necessitates immense cultural change which must be managed carefully, even for a small team.
Here are a few tips to consider when implementing technology for internal collaboration and culture change:
· Communicate your corporate mission - ensure your corporate mission statement is known to all employees by making it highly visible and easily accessible.
In our new 4.0 StrategyBlocks platform, for example, the very first thing you do when setting strategy is to create a “block” for your company’s vision statement so this is at the top of the “tower” guiding every cascading block that follows.
· Make your strategic mission measurable - as well as being transparent and accessible, ensure your strategic mission is measurable by setting clear, specific objectives. Successful outcomes are built on the fundamental building blocks of clear understanding of the overall goals and scope of work.
· Create a visual strategy - present your strategic plan in a visual and holistic way because this approach is much more quickly and easily understood.
While words are processed by short-term memory, images go directly to long-term. When a relevant image is coupled with words, people are more likely to retain 65 percent of the information after three days, whilst only ten percent can be recalled.
Research shows that many CEOs struggle with how to do this, another reason why we created a platform to visually map and execute strategic initiatives.
· Empower your employees - take the “guesswork” out of strategy by giving everyone in your business a complete view of performance and execution across your entire organisation.
Crucially, at the same time, ensure that employees are empowered to quickly identify where, when, and to what extent challenges exist in the strategic planning chain so they can pinpoint where improvements can be made.
Give employees the ability via the right platform to, for example, delegate work, share their thoughts on projects, review checklists and receive approvals. Bear in mind that one of the biggest criticisms currently levelled at collaboration tools is that they facilitate knowledge sharing but do not actually improve the speed and impact of employees’ actions. Ensure yours can do the latter.
· Foster accessibility and transparency - information on resources should be available to different divisions and departments, and easily accessible and transparent, so employees can make the best decisions in light of what is realistic and possible.
The history of corporate disasters is littered with examples where companies failed to achieve the right balance between resources and strategic goals. Taking the guesswork out makes an organisation more resilient and plugs the gap between strategic vision and operational risk.
Fostering a culture of transparency can prevent you from running out of money
· Incentivise and Engage - consider incentivising employees to actively engage and share on your platform. Some companies, for instance, are using a gamification approach. They are rewarding staff for participation in collaborative tasks via a points system, which are exchanged for perks and recognition.
· Embrace mistakes - As we say at StrategyBlocks, it’s much better to fail fast than not know about a challenge or threat until it is too late.
· Nurture a collaborative culture - remember that the definition of “collaboration” comes from the word “co-labouring.” Think of strategy like an unfolding story – not a finished book – which is being co-authored by everyone.
Ultimately, technology is an essential weapon in beating the competition in this new corporate climate.
But rather than using the military analogy of going to war, it is more useful to think of modern strategy-setting as diplomatic and engaging. With the right collaborative strategy in place, every employee can tap into the key strategic metrics of the company, allowing for smart, tailored adjustments in real-time for optimum performance.