4 Mantras for Successful Strategic Execution Today
2022 will be remembered as a year of compounding instability across the globe. COVID-19, supply chain disruption, social-political unrest, and record-breaking inflation are only a few of the challenges that organizations have faced. The loss of previously stable resources – including raw materials, staffing and budget – forced business leaders to rethink their strategies, from planning through execution.
Traditional long-range strategic execution cycles and planning processes aren’t suited for this dynamic environment. Instead, leaders must be more proactive about and mindful of ongoing change and its impacts on the business. Successful strategic execution in eras of uncertainty means embracing a more flexible mindset.
Leading Enterprises Are Adopting Always-On Strategic Execution
A new organizational rhythm has emerged among businesses today that embraces perpetual change. Catalant’s strategic planning guide explains that “strategic planning cycles no longer happen in 6-month or 12-month cadences but are instead a series of unfolding decisions related to rapidly-changing world events and macroeconomic conditions. Companies are acknowledging that they just can’t afford to plan their future against lagging indicators.”
An always-on strategic execution framework doesn’t replace long-term strategic planning, but rather augments it. Companies need long-term visions with key milestones to progress toward. But teams on the ground who are executing projects that drive long-term strategy must be equipped with the right resources to pivot in response to market changes. To identify the unexpected and react, without forsaking the long-term vision of the business.
The following mantras will help your organization embrace an always-on approach to strategic execution, and change course as needed, while still driving business goals forward.
4 Mantras for Successful Strategic Execution
1. Build a flexible strategic plan from the start.
According to analyst and executive advisor Andrew Karpie, we’re living “in a new world where changes outpace regular planning and execution cycles.” Enterprises are kicking off strategic initiatives borne from their long-term planning, then a few weeks into the project they’ll run into roadblocks to executing the work. Shrinking budgets and departing talent — and resulting skills gaps — are a few of those roadblocks.
Starting with a strategic plan that includes alternative scenarios — such as backup talent, flexible budget, and alternative timelines — will help your organization realize important goals despite the unplanned.
2. Don’t panic — prioritize.
When finding their feet in times of uncertainty, enterprises tend to jump into re-planning or accepting the status quo. But it’s important not to hit pause too hard and lose all business momentum. Rather than panic, take a few business days to thoughtfully re-prioritize. Evaluate each project in flight, its goals, and if it remains a priority body of work. The following questions can help with this exercise:
- What has changed between now and when the project began?
- Do we have the same resources (people, funding)?
- Do our customers still want or need this?
- Has our competition changed what they’re offering?
- Are executive expectations still the same?
If your strategic initiatives are built with flexibility in mind, you’ll be ready to adjust direction based on the answers to these questions.
3. Proceed with cautious velocity.
The classic startup mantra of “move fast and break things” isn’t a great approach for large enterprises to take, especially not during turbulent times. The stakes are too high, and speed for the sake of speed results in chaos, which causes drag. Mistakes caused by moving too quickly can be extremely costly to the business in a bear market. Instead of optimizing for speed, consider velocity.
Velocity is speed plus direction. Setting a heading and moving efficiently towards it. Strategic planning sets the company’s vision, and strategic execution optimized for velocity allows the entire company to move with appropriate speed in the right direction. Operating with velocity empowers businesses to adopt new planning rhythms and cadences, even pivot priorities, but maintain a heading towards a goal.
Read this story of Perch, a high-growth startup that leveraged Catalant Technologies to move business goals forward with velocity during a period of rapid growth.
4. Get creative with project resourcing.
To optimize strategic execution for flexibility and velocity as we’ve outlined above, you’ve got to rethink your talent resourcing model. Consider resourcing mechanisms that provide the flexibility to solve many problems at once.
While some enterprises are equipped to reposition team members to apply skillsets across different functions, this is a challenge for those who haven’t internally indexed skills, or who can’t move fast enough to cover shifting resource gaps.
So what about external talent? As companies are consolidating costs, cutting budgets, and freezing hiring, full-time headcount or a new engagement with a big four firm aren’t viable options.
An agile consulting model augments existing business processes in order to keep pace with shifting plans. Agile consulting enables companies to apply the right resources against the bodies of work that need swift execution.
Build a Flexible Strategic Execution Framework With Catalant
To execute your business strategy with flexibility and velocity, turn to an agile consulting marketplace like Catalant. You’ll have access to experts with decades of experience by industry (supply chain, marketing, operations) or by function (project management, market research, digital transformation) to move with the pace of change in today’s market even with limited resources.