Once a Strategy has been defined, it must be implemented. A Business Plan should contain both the description of the Strategy and its Plan for putting it into operation. The Execution, however, cannot be outsourced , it is the organization itself that must take care of it as the Strategy concerns the change of its own way of operating. Using the metaphor of the title, if I decide to move faster thanks to the bicycle, I have to understand how to use it: no one else can learn for me!
Unfortunately the organization is not available for any activity you want to have it carried out. It was set up to carry on the daily operations that are the reason for the very existence of the Company. This entails a series of difficulties which underlie the complexity of Strategy Execution and which must be addressed to prevent its slowdown or, worse, its failure.
Learn to ride a bike while walking
The organization cannot stop to learn to do something else, even if it will lead to doing better. The operations must proceed continuously, they cannot be interrupted. This means that “riding a bicycle”, as the Strategy Execution prescribes, must be learned “while walking”. The activities prescribed by the Plan will then be in addition, for those involved, to the daily ones, creating an increase that is not always foreseeable or resolvable with organizational adjustments (new positions, delegation of tasks, etc.). Time is neither compressible nor extendable and therefore must be used to the fullest. As demonstrated in other activities of the Company, the support of Information Systems is vital to order activities and allow individual members of the organization to be more productive or, in other words, manage their time better.
Cycling together: the problem of “silos”
The company organization has evolved into sectors specialized in specific functions, also taking on significant dimensions. The need for this evolution is based on valid reasons:
- aggregate experiences and skills, to focus and create critical mass on key competences;
- assign responsibilities, which provide boundaries to the hierarchy and delimit areas of activity to create greater efficiency;
- provide a sense of identity, which creates stability and allows the development of collective behavioral norms, psychological safety and predictability of people.
Unfortunately, alongside these negative phenomena have developed, which have inspired the name Silos given to the organizational divisions:
- narrow minded,
- difficulty of sharing and collaboration between vertical divisions,
- position wars and mutual accusations.
It is clear that these elements can be strong inhibiting factors for Strategy Execution activities. The first temptation could be to “knock down” the Silos, but doing so would lose the benefits for which they were created. Furthermore, the sense of identity they provide is the main cause, if not the only one, of that resistance to change complained of in the execution of the Strategy and which is generally attributed to vague and unfounded psychological motivations.
Strategy Execution is an activity that requires the involvement of people from various parts of the organization, therefore also of various ones Silos. There is therefore the need to create a sort of “parallel” or “superior” organization to the institutional one in which these people converge, without leaving their own, for the sole purpose of executing the Strategy: a Meta-Organization. This Meta-Organization, which will last for the duration of the Execution, needs to be recognized by all but also to have valid support that keeps its activities separate from those of the Silos or the rest of the institutional organization. Once again an Information System designed to support Strategy Execution is the right tool to give substance to this solution.
Long times, who does what and more: the temptation to abandon everything (and continue “on foot”)
Strategy Execution is a process that lasts over time. More dynamic banks could even consider it a permanent activity to better respond to the increasingly frequent changes in the market (hence the increasingly frequent presence of Chief Strategy Officers at the top of the Company). During this period, thanks to the prevalence of daily operations, the temptation to abandon or downgrade to a secondary activity (when “there is time”) is very strong. Furthermore, roles and responsibilities could change over time, both with everyone’s agreement to adapt to new contextual conditions, and because we find ourselves accepting them without anyone noticing.
Who has the right to organize a meeting ten months later? On what topics? Who can launch a new initiative or project? These are just some of the legitimate questions that can arise, and it is already positive that they arise after a while that Strategy Execution has started. Furthermore, there is the risk that in order to avoid slowdowns due to these problems, individual parts of the company (Silos) could independently launch initiatives that will prove to be very similar or even duplicated.
These, and other difficulties that emerge with the duration of the Execution, are real “killers” of the Strategy Execution that can slowly, and in a subtle and hardly recognizable way, lead to its failure. A “persistent” process memory is the solution to such problems. Once again it is a dedicated information system designed for this purpose that can provide this solution and avoid abandoning the “bicycle”, after many initial efforts.
So let’s talk about a project and a tool to manage it?
It is evident that we are not faced with the banal management of a project, or of the ensemble of many projects. Strategy Execution is certainly made up of projects, but it doesn’t come down to just managing them. There are in fact initiatives that are not comparable to a mere project, for example because they are outside the company perimeter. It is also necessary, as mentioned before, to give support and “body” to the Meta-Organization set up for the purpose, defining the roles and responsibilities of the individual participants. It must then be separated from operations in communication channels, in budget management but, at the same time, connected to transactional information systems to receive key information regarding the progress of operational activities as the Strategy Execution activities proceed. And much more to allow the whole company to finally proceed better and faster thanks to the use of the “bicycle” defined by the Strategy.
There is a need for a single tool that gives support and visibility to the entire Strategy Execution, and to all its participants, from a “single point of view”. This tool exists: My Single Point. Would you like to know more? Contact us .