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Implementing Corporate Strategy (Complete Process Overview)

Updated: Jun 12, 2023


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To successfully implement strategies, set goals and determine KPIs for measuring objectives, determine roles and responsibilities, assign tasks, execute tasks, monitor progress and performance, make necessary revisions, complete implementation, and review the process.

Most often than not, business success does not occur randomly. It is a result of serious strategic planning and execution. It starts with defining a strategic direction for your organization, followed by outlining strategic plans to drive the business toward achieving its long-term objectives.

However, without proper implementation, even the best strategic plans will mean nothing to your organization. So, how do you turn your strategic plans into action?

This guide will answer this question. At the end of this guide, you’ll understand the key steps in strategy implementation.

Introduction to implementing corporate strategy

Strategy implementation is the process of turning strategic plans into actions to achieve desired results.

A corporate strategy refers to the overall plan for an organization or the direction it’ll take in pursuit of its long-term objectives. Corporate strategies guide an organization’s actions, helping it stay focused on its long-term goals.

Corporate strategy implementation is essentially the art of doing things to help an organization achieve its corporate strategy goals. It involves executing key processes to help an organization create products and enter markets for the competitive advantage it aims to build.

Harvard Business School Professor David Garvin says implementing and executing strategy involves “delivering what is planned or promised on time, on budget, at quality, and with minimum variability - even in the face of unexpected events and contingencies.”

Features of strategy implementation

Distinctive attributes of strategy implementation are as follows:

Integrated process

An integrated process combines different unit processes into one working system under unified control.

Strategy implementation is an integrated process, meaning that the different activities that make up strategy implementation are interdependent. That is, each activity is part of a larger, complex system.

This implies that business units should not execute activities in silos during strategy implementation. When strategy activities are executed in silos, solving one problem may create other problems elsewhere.

An integrated process is highly collaborative. Seeing strategy implementation as an integrated process means thinking of the whole organization and its entire systems together, emphasizing connections, and improving communication between different parts.

This breaks down professional boundaries and eliminates linear planning that results in inefficient solutions. You’ll operate different systems as a unified whole and execute strategy activities in accordance with each other, resulting in better business performance.

Action-oriented

Being action-oriented means using practical methods that involve doing things to deal with a situation.

Strategy implementation is action-oriented, meaning it is all about taking actionable steps to bring strategic plans to reality. You should make strategies actionable via management processes like planning, organizing, directing, and controlling.

Varied skills

Strategy implementation is multi-disciplinary, as people from different parts of the organization must come together to achieve strategic objectives.

Thus, an attribute of the strategy implementation process is wide-ranging skills. Implementing any strategy will require vast knowledge, abilities, and organizational skills.

Wide involvement

Strategy involvement requires wide organizational involvement, meaning that all parts of the organization take part in it.

Unlike formulation, which demands the participation of only top-level management, strategy implementation demands the involvement of all levels of management (top, middle, and lower-level management).

Top management participates by clarifying the strategy and communicating it to the organization. Middle-level management further clarifies strategies to low-level management, devises structures, regulates norms, etc. Low-level management is responsible for direct task execution and deliverables.

Wide scope

Strategy implementation has a wide scope, including both administrative and managerial activities. Implementation calls for motivational and management skills as well as administrative tasks based on operational decisions.

Importance of strategy implementation

Strategy implementation is vital for business for many reasons. The importance of strategy implementation include:

Allows you to take action

After brainstorming to develop strategies, you need strategy implementation to take the ideas and put them to work to move the needle for your business.

Without implementation, even the best strategies will just lie around without doing anything for your business.

Creates accountability

Strategy implementation includes determining roles and responsibilities and assigning tasks. Everyone knows what they are responsible for and how their efforts contribute to the overall goals.

This creates accountability, making team members accept responsibility for their work and making them keen to deliver their best results.

Helps team development

Implementation involves company-wide participation, involving people from top-level managers to frontline workers.

With everyone contributing towards achieving strategic goals, they will feel more invested in those goals. This boosts team morale and motivation, leading to better performance.

Prerequisites of strategic implementation

Five components characterize successful strategy implementation - people, organization, culture, resources, and systems.

All five components must be in place for you to move from strategic plans to actions that bring desired results.

People

According to Peter Drucker, “Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performances, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”

Every successful strategy implementation requires having the right people in the right positions. You should have a team that understands the strategy and have the competencies to support its implementation.

Getting the right people to support strategy implementation may require:

  • Hiring new persons with competencies required by the strategic plan

  • Training existing staff so they acquire requisite competencies

  • Reassigning persons in the organization to have where their skills are better utilized.

Organization

Successful strategy implementation relies on everyone in the organization knowing their position in the organization and what is expected of them in the position.

Thus, you should have an organizational structure with clearly defined positions, the chain of command, roles, and responsibilities. When people know their responsibilities and who they report to, there is better accountability.

Systems

Strategy implementation also relies heavily on the management and technological systems you put in place.

Management systems are the way your organization manages its interrelated parts to achieve its objectives, while technological systems are devices that combine electronics to do work.

Thus, for successful strategy implementation, you need to employ policies, processes, procedures, and technology that ensure you can fulfill the tasks required to achieve your objectives. You need to understand how each element of your system supports the strategic management process.

Culture

Successful strategy implementation also depends on your company culture, which is how you do things in the workplace.

Rolling out new strategies and working towards achieving new objectives can create experiences for employees, which may make them less engaged and happy in the workplace.

Thus, for successful strategy implementation, you must ensure that the new ways do not breed negative energies.

Build a strong culture that makes the workplace gratifying for employees by realigning everyone with the company’s values, making employees feel valued, and rewarding success.

Resources

Another prerequisite of successful strategy implementation is the resources organizations employ (specifically effective resource allocation). Resources can be financial (such as cost of labor) or non-financial (such as time for strategy implementation).

You should allocate sufficient funds for executing activities and probable cost overruns. You should also have enough time to implement all activities as well as additional activities that may be necessary.

Key steps in the corporate strategy implementation

The steps for successful strategy implementation include the following:

Set goals and define variables

The strategy implementation process starts with defining the goals that the strategy aims to achieve.

After setting a strategic direction for your organization, the next step is to set strategic objectives to pursue. This gives you a clear picture of what you want to achieve.

Goals should not only be clear, but they should also be attainable. Unrealistic goals and objectives are unattainable and will make your project management team feel overwhelmed and deflated.

To help you set attainable goals, consider your timeframe and resources. It also helps to review the outcomes of previous initiatives.

You also need to have key performance indicators (KPIs) that you may track to help you evaluate whether you’re meeting your objectives. When you use Kippy to manage your corporate-level strategy, it uses AI to generate accurate and actionable KPIs for your strategic objectives.

After setting goals, you should also look at variables that may hinder your ability to achieve them. Tools like a risk register can help you identify possible threats to your strategy. A SWOT analysis can also help you identify weaknesses and threats that can affect strategy implementation.

Defining these variables is critical to determining contingency plans to increase your ability to respond to unexpected events that may want to derail you.

Determine roles, responsibilities, and relationships

After setting goals, the next step for successful strategy implementation is to engage your team, which will mobilize action toward the desired goals.

You need to create focus and drive accountability in your teams by defining roles, responsibilities, and relationships.

First, clearly communicate your strategy implementation plan so everyone knows the ultimate goal. Then determine roles and responsibilities so everyone knows what they are responsible for achieving. Set clear expectations so there’s no confusion about expected results.

You also need to define relationships. Each team member should know who the decision makers are, especially who’s responsible for what, and who to report to. You should also establish how your team communicates and how often.

Assign the work

You’ve mapped out what needs to be done, ensuring there are no responsibility gaps. The next thing is to assign the work to the appropriate team members.

Assign tasks so team members know what they need to do and when. Also, provide resources to team members so they can complete their tasks effectively.

Execute the plan

Executing your plan means putting the plan into action. This involves guiding and supporting team members as they perform specific tasks to achieve objectives.

Clarify dependencies to make it easier to hit milestones. Check-in with your team regularly and listen to their feedback.

Monitor progress and performance

A famous management quote is, “What cannot be measured cannot be improved.” So, during the execution phase, you should monitor progress and performance to see how well your team is completing tasks.

Track task completion in a shared tool to see whether your team is successfully meeting milestones. Timeline views of projects can help view work status relative to your goals.

Adjust and revise if necessary

During execution, unforeseen issues can arise, necessitating a change in certain processes or even the nature of the project. Successful strategy implementation requires changing your goals when necessary.

Acknowledge that the business environment is dynamic, so be attentive and flexible. Instead of stubbornly sticking to an original goal, periodically ask yourself and your team whether you need to make any adjustments. Then adjust your strategic initiatives accordingly.

Complete the implementation

After deciding on necessary changes to work around issues, you need to complete your implementation. This will require revising schedules and milestones, reassigning tasks, reallocating resources, etc.

Check with your team to ensure they understand the revised goals and have everything required to perform their tasks.

Review and reflect

After fully implementing your strategy, you need to look back on the whole process for lessons learned.

Such review and reflection will reveal whether you achieved your goals or what else you need to do to get over the line. You can also look at the challenges you faced during implementation and detail how you can avoid them or handle them better in the future.

Tips for effective strategy implementation

The following tips will help you successfully implement your strategic plans and reach your goals.

Establish systematic communication

Your strategy will die on the planning table without effective communication. For successful implementation, you need to communicate the new strategy to the organization so everyone knows what is happening and what is expected of them.

Scott Edinger showed the importance of communication in strategy implementation in his “Three Cs of implementing strategy.” He condenses all the points you need to keep an eye on for successful implementation in this work, one of which is communication.

However, you need more than a newsletter or memo to communicate new strategies effectively. You need a systematic approach that creates value-added communications through different touchpoints.

That is, diversify your communication strategy. Besides using standard channels like newsletters and memos, you should facilitate communication through collaboration tools. Managers should also make themselves available and create opportunities for teams to ask questions and seek clarification.

Ensure clarity

Strategies are usually expressed as high-level statements. While these can resonate with the board and executive team, they may not be clear to mid-level and frontline personnel who should drive action toward achieving them.

Since your team can only implement strategies they fully understand, successful implementation requires clarifying strategy for everyone. Thus, define strategies clearly, by outlining specific goals and including specific methods for reaching those goals.

Make sure to use the right tools for the job

Successful strategy implementation requires identifying the tools required to execute plans and making them available.

Without the right tools, task completion may be challenging for your team or take longer than necessary. So, provide the technological systems and materials your teams need to do their jobs effectively and reach their goals.

Ensure trust among team members

You need trust to implement strategy successfully because trust helps build a cohesive and more productive team.

Mid-level and frontline personnel are more likely to commit to achieving goals when they trust the top management. When teams trust that management will do wrong by them, there’ll be less fear and resistance of change.

Trust also leads to better teamwork and collaboration among team members. People typically work in teams when implementing strategies, and teams don’t work well when there’s distrust.

Extend support

Another tip for effective strategy implementation is offering team support.

Issues are inevitable in a work environment, so you should provide everything your team needs to resolve issues quickly and move forward. You may do this by providing communication tools, encouraging honest communication, and modeling what a support figure looks like.

Differences between strategy formulation and strategy implementation

Strategy formulation is the process of developing strategic plans and objectives, while implementation involves executing those strategic plans.

Strategy formulation is about executives developing strategies with inputs from multiple business units. The process includes developing long-term goals and objectives, examining the organizational environment to determine your strengths and weaknesses, developing targets for every level of the organization, and choosing an appropriate strategy.

The steps in strategy implementation include determining roles, assigning tasks, allocating resources, completing tasks, and tracking results.

Thus, formulation focuses on strategic planning and decision-making, while implementation focuses on execution.

That said, strategy formulation and implementation differ on many points, including their meaning, key ideas, focus, and responsible person.

Strategy formulation

Strategy implementation

Meaning

Developing strategy

Executing the strategy

Focus

Future

Present

Key idea

Positioning the forces required for action

Managing those forces to do work

Type of process

Analytical

Operational

Carried out by

Top management

Middle-level management

Strategy implementation challenges

When implementing strategy, challenges that teams often face include the following:

Inadequate support

People must work in teams for successful strategy implementation. However, some people feel like they’re alone when working on projects.

When a company does not reinforce a culture of trust, people may work independently instead of supporting each other toward achieving goals.

So, always reinforce corporate culture to create a gratifying environment where employees are happy, highly engaged, and supportive of one another.

No safeguards

You cannot implement strategy successfully without facing challenges. The company’s success depends on handling these challenges so they do not derail strategy implementation. This relies heavily on predicting potential challenges and planning for them.

However, it is not uncommon for some organizations to fail to anticipate certain challenges only to be overwhelmed by them. While it is impossible to predict every challenge that may arise and lead to problems, planning for potential issues and establishing appropriate safeguards can save you time and frustration in the future.

Lack of communication

Communication is an essential ingredient of successful strategy implementation. It ensures everyone understands what needs to be done and what they have to do. It also strengthens working relationships for better collaboration.

However, miscommunication is common in many organizations, causing roadblocks that affect strategy implementation. So, use a systematic communication approach and be as thorough as possible.

Inability to track progress

Tracking progress helps determine whether you are on course to achieve strategic goals and identify problem points.

However, many organizations are unable to effectively track progress, weakening strategy implementation. Today, different SaaS products help management track progress when executing projects.

Successfully tracking projects starts with defining the right KPIs for your objectives. The KPIs are metrics to help you track progress toward achieving strategic objectives.

Traditional processes of generating KPIs are tedious, time-consuming, and expensive and often lead to choosing the wrong metrics. Thus, you’ll find organizations measuring the wrong things and fumbling to achieve their objectives.

Ineffective training

People are central to implementation because they mobilize action toward the desired goals. In fact, the people factor, especially if you have people with the right competencies, makes the greatest difference in the performance of organizations.

Putting people in the right jobs and helping them acquire or hone competencies involves targeted hiring and focused training.

However, it is not uncommon to see inadequately trained organizational people lacking the abilities and competencies to deliver projects. Working on projects without requisite competencies leads to various problems.

Lack of resources

“Resources” is one of the prerequisites of successful strategy implementation. So, a lack of resources is a huge barrier to strategy implementation.

For example, a firm will need financial resources to develop a new business unit or prosecute the marketing efforts required to be successful. If you dont have the money to support your strategic initiatives, actioning on them to reach your goals will be challenging.

However, resources are not only financial. They also include human and technological resources. You'll struggle to bring your plans to fruition if you don’t have people with the right competencies or requisite technological systems.

Unfortunately, many companies' strategic implementations have been frustrated by a lack of resources.

Weak leadership

For corporate strategies to be successfully implemented, executives must direct, guide, and influence the behavior and work of others toward achieving specific goals.

However, many companies are plagued with the problem of weak leadership. That is, their leaders cannot effectively guide, motivate, and inspire team members.

You need strong leadership to provide effective guidance. A good leader will help team members understand their roles or how they fit into the big picture, as well as motivate and inspire them, improving team engagement levels and morale.

Thus, provide strong leadership to boost operational efficiency. Some good leadership qualities to employ include having a bias to action, staying authentic, showing self-awareness, exhibiting humility, focusing on relationship building, and empowering your team.

Takeaway: Turn strategic plans into actions to achieve business goals

Strategic implementation is taking action to execute strategic plans. It is about doing what is necessary to achieve objectives.

The prerequisites for successful strategic implementation are people, organization, systems, culture, and resources.

Steps for successfully implementing strategies include setting goals and determining KPIs for measuring objectives, determining roles and responsibilities, assigning tasks, executing tasks, monitoring progress and performance, making necessary revisions, completing implementation, and reviewing the process.

The AI strategy software Kippy makes strategy implementation easier. Kippy helps you align every metric, person, and activity to your organization’s most important objectives.

With Kippy, you can easily define your strategy and iteratively cascade it to all levels of your organization so everyone knows what is happening. Kippy also generates the best KPIs for your objectives, allowing you to measure progress toward achieving goals. It also gives you appraisal workflows for org-wide performance reports.

Ready to make your life easier as you turn plans into action? Book a demo and see how Kippy can help.


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