I’m currently working with a UK retailer to help accelerate the delivery of its new strategic agenda. The company and its leadership team is in a common position. Although the executive team has worked hard to find a clear way forward and agree on priorities, managers are struggling to get going. As a result, the business is spinning its strategy wheels.
As a result, I’ve decided to embed the following eight approaches to enable the team to accelerate pace and results, which can be summarized as ‘Do Less, Achieve More’. The retailer, like many other businesses, is trying to do everything immediately. As a result, managers have created a high level of competition for key people and resources and confusion about the company’s priorities. You can already sense the leadership team’s frustration with the lack of tangible progress.
Instead of this scattergun approach to implementation, you need a combination of discipline, organization, perseverance, and energy to step-change the pace of delivery. Here are the eight approaches that you can work on immediately to make that a reality:
Focus, focus, focus.
Pace isn’t about trying to do everything at once; it’s about focusing your resources and energy on delivering against your most important issues and opportunities. Prioritization is a critical enabler of pace. There is a clear correlation between those companies that are able to focus and those that move and deliver at speed.
Lead by results.
Developing great plans is all well and good, but real implementation pace, and achieving more things quicker and better than your competitors, is about taking prudent risks. Having a bias for action and maintaining a focus on delivering tangible results and success.
Identify and pursue your #1 top priority for the next 90 days.
By combining the two recommendations, above, a great way to build engagement, momentum and belief is to choose the single project. One that best combines an ability to deliver a significant impact on your #1 goal and that enables you to make a real noticeable difference in performance in the next three months. The results you deliver through a mono-focus on this priority acts as a demonstration of what a step-change in the pace of your business could actually mean for your business.
Think big, start small, learn fast.
Pace is not about being reckless or taking unnecessary risks. But about learning as cheaply and rapidly as possible so that you can invest in your success with as much confidence as possible. There is a clear sequence to follow when delivering new strategic initiatives. Those companies that choose to miss out critical steps do so at their peril.
Remember, delivery is the day job.
A key differentiator between those companies that are ‘first and fast’ and those that are left in their wake is that the successful businesses are able to combine strategic progress with daily operational management. Their leaders know that delivery of the company’s key strategic actions is just as much the day job as delivering against each customer order, and the companies that succeed most are those that are able to integrate these potentially competing priorities.
Ruthlessly remove the weeds.
A great leader needs to vigorously remove the organizational “weeds”. This means keeping organizational structures and processes as simple as possible. Removing poor-performing managers and those that are actively preventing the corporate goals from being delivered. Rationalizing the range of products and services you offer so that you are not supporting activities that simply do not pay their way. And rapidly halting or amending initiatives that are failing to deliver.
Establish unambiguous accountabilities.
Critically review your existing accountabilities, identify and tackle areas where there are overlaps, committee-based accountabilities, and uncertainties. You should, of course, start with your own team.
Increase the frequency and discipline of your progress reviews.
Monthly or quarterly reviews of key projects suggest that pace is not such a big issue for your business. Weekly sessions – or, at most, fortnightly – for the executive team to review progress of your most important priorities will raise the energy, pace and momentum of these initiatives, helping them to deliver rapid results. These sessions need not last hours, or require the usual reports and documentation. Instead, they can and should have simple administration, so that your focus is on ensuring that they make a material impact as quickly as possible.
Which of these eight actions could help your organisation to step-change the pace that you deliver your strategic priorities and accelerate the growth of your business?
© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.