“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu
Strategy is a crucial part of any successful business. Unfortunately, the reality is bringing strategy to life is more difficult than it seems.
At Limelights, we believe that strategy means nothing without action; unless it is embedded into the everyday work of your employees, then your strategy is doomed to fail – and this is more common than you might think. According to PwC, a shocking 93% of a company’s employees report that they do not understand its strategy.
In another study by MIT, only 28% of executives and middle managers could list three of their company’s strategic priorities!
So, what’s going on here? And how can organizations turn strategy into action?
The true meaning of strategy
A strategy is a plan of action aimed at achieving the vision and objectives of an organization. It should serve as an organization’s compass, guiding decision-making and future plans. 🧭
When you think about it, a strategy is merely a few words put on paper (or in a slide deck) – but these words can determine the direction of a company for years to come.
However, we find that most companies miss the most fundamental meaning of a strategy: that it is a plan of action.
For example, after its profits had fallen nearly 28% the previous year, Starbucks decided to implement a “value-based strategy” focused on building an emotional connection with its customers. In 2008, Starbucks launched “My Starbucks Idea,” a space where customers could share ideas and suggestions about all things Starbucks – from its products and services to its corporate social responsibility efforts. The initiative was a mega success, with over 90,000 ideas submitted, leading to the business model changes that have resulted in the Starbucks we all know today.
In short, whether it’s improving customer service, innovating products and services, adjusting product pricing, or promoting sustainability, any business strategy means nothing without a thoughtful plan of action to bring it to life.
How to turn strategy into action
Organizations can only take action if their strategies are solid. Unfortunately, most strategies fail. In 2022, global SaaS company Cascade found that 9 out of 10 organizations fail to execute their strategy.
Most strategies fail when:
⚠️ Strategy is owned (or monopolized) by top management and leaders
⚠️ Employees do not engage with the strategy and consequently do not care about the strategy
⚠️ Strategy is not part of people’s daily activities and decisions
⚠️ There is a large gap between the leaders and the executors of the strategy
⚠️ Strategy is designed to remain static instead of adapting to changing circumstances
Put your strategy to the test with these 10 questions from McKinsey:
1️⃣ Will your strategy beat the market?
2️⃣ Does your strategy tap a true source of advantage?
3️⃣ Is your strategy granular about where to compete?
4️⃣ Does your strategy put you ahead of trends?
5️⃣ Does your strategy rest on privileged insights?
6️⃣ Does your strategy embrace uncertainty?
7️⃣ Does your strategy balance commitment and flexibility?
8️⃣ Is your strategy contaminated by bias?
9️⃣ Is there conviction to act on your strategy?
🔟 Have you translated your strategy into an action plan?
Based on our experience working with large multinational organizations, here are a few best practices on how to turn strategy into action:
💥 Make sure the strategy can be translated to everyone’s day-to-day work
💥 Connect individual goals to business outcomes
💥 Continuously measure the progress or impact of each strategic objective
💥 Design your strategy to be able to adapt to change
💥 Align cross-functional teams and projects
It might be helpful to think about your strategy as a plan of action for the future: what are you moving from and where are you moving to?
👉Reach out to us today if you need help turning your strategy into action to accelerate sustainability and drive positive change!