When I run strategy projects with clients, the final stage is to agree the key actions needed to turn the strategy into reality. At that point, most clients start to list out the projects, initiatives and programmes that will make the difference.

If they’re organised, the client will have standard templates where programme leaders can set out the objectives, KPIs, resources and milestones of the proposed project. These templates may also list some key risks, dependencies and linkages with other projects and initiatives.

So far, so best practice project management. The trouble is that supporting all these projects requires significant organisational effort.

It doesn’t have to be this way. And it’s certainly not the best place to start to drive change and performance improvement in line with your new strategy. Instead, start by asking this question: What change in behaviours will make the biggest impact on our strategic goals in the shortest possible time?

The answer to this question is unlikely to be a list of bureaucratic change programmes. Instead, the answers may include the following:

  • Sharing the strategy, the challenges it addresses and the new priorities and goals with the organisation, building engagement and commitment.
  • Clarifying and sharing the leadership, management and operational behaviours that will best deliver your ambitions.
  • Publicly celebrating examples of where people and teams have delivered in line with the new strategy.
  • Repeating these three steps – sharing the new strategy, behaviours and stories – in every meeting (both formal and informal) that you attend.
  • Changing the KPIs you review on a daily, weekly and monthly basis so that they are fully aligned with your new goals and objectives.
  • Changing the structure and focus of your regular management meetings so that they are better aligned with your strategic priorities.
  • Changing your diary so that more of your time is spent on what’s critical to the delivery of the new strategy.
  • Adapting the organisation’s bonus and other reward schemes to reflect your new performance targets.
  • Attracting people with the skills and attitude that will be needed to deliver the strategy.

You get the picture. Programmes will, of course, be required to deliver some of the changes demanded by your new strategy. But their impact will be limited, at best, unless you take the actions I’ve listed above.

And you may just find that by continuously sharing and explaining the strategy, changing your own and your team’s behaviours and adapting KPIs, meetings and bonus schemes the organisation may deliver significant performance improvements before any programme templates have been completed!

Off The Record: It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It

Written in the 1930s by Melvin Oliver and James Young, and recorded by many artists including Ella Fitzgerald and The Fun Boy Three with Bananarama

You can try hard, don’t mean a thing

Take it easy, then your jive can swing

It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it

It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it

It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it

That’s what gets results

The Chief Officers’ Breakfast Club, 2023

The aim of the Breakfast Club is to provide senior and chief officers with a place to meet, gain new ideas and insights and learn from each other and our guest speakers. At the same time, the £500 membership fee has allowed Club to financially support 12 high-potential young athletes through our partner charity, SportsAid.

Over the past year, our special guests have included Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Sir Will Adderley (the deputy-chairman, ex-CEO and majority shareholder of Dunelm plc) and Ian Filby, formerly the CEO of DFS plc.

I will be sharing more details about the 2023 programme in the next few weeks, but if you would like to join the group, please contact me at stuart@morgancross.co.uk or call me on 01636-526111. It would be great to have you join!