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CEOs Need An Effective Tool To Help Them Deliver Strategy

21 January, 2019

When boards get involved in strategy (and they should), what invariably gets produced at the end of the process is a ton of strategic initiatives that CEOs agree to deliver.

Accountability for the delivery of strategic initiatives often involves using a lot of emails and endless meetings. These are the tools of the trade for many CEOs. Demonstrating to the board that the strategic initiatives are being delivered results in the production of monthly reports, usually in the form of tables that look something like this:

CEOs Need An Effective Tool To Help Them Deliver Strategysometimes a "traffic light" system highlights progress

Rather than go through all the detail and in order to help the board see the picture more clearly, a "traffic light" system is used to highlight the things that are going well (green), things that are not going so well (orange) and things that are not going well at all (red).

Now initially, there won't be much colour in the tables - perhaps a few greens as some quick wins occur. Inevitably, because it's bloody hard for CEOs to organise so many things these days using only emails and meetings, time passes and more and more orange and red appears in the tables. Of course, the detail behind this is down to things changing and when things change, strategic initiatives need to change; and that means deliverables too! Put simply, how can a table of different coloured rows be a true reflection of a constantly evolving situation?

Einstein has been attributed with saying, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

Cross-functional teams collaboratingStrategic initiatives almost always involve functional and/or cross-functional teams collaborating

How Do Strategic Initiatives Become True Deliverables?

Working on strategic initiatives almost always involves functional and/or cross-functional teams collaborating, so in our view the first bit is easy. This collaboration can be achieved by investing in project management tools that help any kind of team work together in a meaningful way on their deliverables. Tools such as these are readily available.

Those responsible for delivering on strategic initiatives can often be unaware of the significance of their work to the success of the business. Managing each strategic initiative as a project assigned to an owner and a clearly defined team makes sense. The project will have clearly defined deliverables, easily accessible information and tasks to be completed.

Rather than planning everything up front and working on everything at the same time, this makes the delivery of strategic initiatives more of a continuous and agile process. New "projects" are added as they arise, and archived as each strategic initiative is completed.

In this way, the owner of each project can use the system to do the heavy lifting of the reporting and ensure that the story being told is a true depiction of where the business is heading and how it's getting there.

The important thing is to ensure the approach to delivering strategic initiatives is dynamic - agile and continuous rather than static. Inspect, adapt and refine each one as the business moves toward delivery.

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