Top 3 Questions to Ask During a Strategy Implementation

Recently, I led a strategy retreat for a client. I was forewarned that at past retreats there had been a lack of energy. Participants would become bogged-down and the focus of the retreat would stray to tangent topics of discussion. Before you knew it, the weekend was over and they didn’t complete anything.

I proposed we take a different approach. What if we tackled one piece of the strategy implementation that could be accomplished quickly? This would get everyone on board and motivated to move forward in the months following the retreat

Often, strategy implementation fails because we commit to do too much and don’t complete anything particularly well or in a timely manner because our day to day work gets in the way. Also, there is continual pressure on everyone to get more done with less.  It seems people lose focus more quickly than in the past.  If they can’t ‘see or feel’ progress on strategy implementation quickly, motivation rapidly declines and they move their attention to something else.

Below are 3 questions to keep your strategy implementation moving forward.

1. What’s one tactic that can be accomplished quickly? Nothing motivates and builds confidence and momentum more effectively than the satisfaction of accomplishment. Begin strategy implementation by using the 80/20 principle to pick any one of the small number of tactics that will produce great value. Say “no” to everything else until some success is realized and then repeat.

2. Every time we talk, how will we know we’re progressing? How would you know if you tripped over it? We need a way to measure quickly. Let’s use qualitative measures that can be tracked in real-time instead of financial measures.  

For example, a qualitative measure you might want to improve is the functionality of your project team. Specifically, you could measure empathy of the project team, using a 10-point behavior scale. Let’s say the team’s ability to empathize to begin with is measured at a “1”, which in behavioral terms means there is none visible. The team wants to reach a “5”, which in behavioral terms means the team members listen with visible sincerity. Using the scale, you can “see the target” of reaching a “5”. You can measure your progress at any time.

Anyone can measure financial numbers, but numbers tend to reduce strategy implementation to uncreative transactions.  In other words, mere numbers commoditize your strategy implementation to look eerily similar to your competitors….

3. Can we start over? When human beings are involved, at some point issues will arise & make it challenging to keep moving forward. If you ask the question, “can we start over?”, 99% of the time your request will be honored and strategy implementation progress can resume.

Ironically, these questions seem like they slow you down. In reality, they speed you up because they enable the strategy implementation activities to earn or “pull” time and energy commensurate with the results they produce.

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