Leading Strategic Change

Monday, January 15 2018

There is always an element of change in strategy. Whether it is finding ways to do more of what you already do well; identifying and closing gaps in areas where there are weaknesses; or taking the organization in entirely new directions. Even maintaining the status quo on specific strengths can require managing change since external forces may be working against you: for instance high retention rates become ‘at risk’ due to pending retirements.

In our work with organizations, we help them develop strategic priorities or goals. Then we support their desired change by ensuring that each priority is assigned a champion. The champion doesn’t necessarily do the work, but is responsible for seeing that the goal is accomplished. We also encourage the senior leaders to be the champions of the champions.

All too frequently progress toward priority goals gets off track. The most often cited reason is time, which can be an issue of capacity: the individuals charged with executing the goal aren’t carving out the time to complete it. It is imperative to determine whether the cause is external or internal. Is it an external issue – too much expected of them? Or is it internal – they are allowing tactical obligations to take precedence over the strategic ones? Whether the constraints are internal or external, helping them articulate their needs, required resources, and perceived challenges is an effective way to coach the champions, and move the organization, toward success.

Leaders must set aside time from their own activities to engage in a dialogue about strategic priorities. It’s a good idea to have a scorecard as a way of seeing at a glance how the team is progressing toward its assigned goals. Do not just focus on the negative, when things are not going as planned; ensure you spend adequate time celebrating progress and accomplishments.