Leadership, Ownership and Responsibility in Strategic Plan Implementation

If an organization is expecting to execute strategy well, it must drive behavioral changes within the organization. Building a strong team of leaders to communicate and champion the strategic plan is essential. This issue could be one of the most challenging tasks. Managers’ commitment and leadership levels and the roles that they can play are essential for successful implementation of the strategic plan. Leadership entails the ability to surface the need for change; to suppress or remove barriers to change; and to secure short-term wins. These three objectives are done by:

  • Not suppressing internal conflict to enable key players to see the need for change.

  • Closely monitor corporate noise levels. Corporate noise occurs when different parts of an organization are unable to resolve alignment issues between themselves and instead continually escalate these issues to senior management for resolution.

  • Facilitating realization of the need for change using influencing skills.

  • Being ready to present a plan of action for change quickly.

  • Effecting a major, highly visible action aimed at creating a sense of oneness/unity.

  • Establishing ways for easier communication/interaction between disparate groups.

  • Continually promoting a sense of corporate ownership.

  • Engendering strong buy-in by seeing through promised actions.

  • Identify and quickly implement high value-adding initiatives with short delivery time-frames to communicate intent and delivery focus.

  • Display strong energy and authority.

In addition, the need for a corporate support team is very important. The general purpose of this corporate team is to foster synergies among the various business units and support units. Corporate team must find ways to enable these synergies among the business and support units. Based on strategic direction, corporate team might consider:

  • Reallocation of capital to strategic functions.

  • Enable resource sharing to create economies of scale.

  • Enable and encourage customer sharing to cross-sell products.

  • Support and fund knowledge sharing and best practices among business units.

  • Encourage and reward behaviors that support strategy.

Strong corporate strategy team is critical to the success of the strategy implementation. A good team combines strategic vision with advocacy, communication and administrative skills to keep the process on track and aligned with the corporate strategy. The number of employees assigned to corporate strategy team on a full-time basis can vary by organization. However, it can range between 3 and 15 personnel, with the average of 7 employees.

The corporate strategy team might also be referred to as a “change agent” for executive leadership. This role works behind the scenes in many cases as a missionary, a consultant, a point person, and a chief of staff, to shepherd the strategy from the earliest development stage to sustainable execution stage. This central role of corporate strategy team is mainly to:

  • Provide an integrated approach to strategy management that bridges traditional functional domains such as finance, planning, and performance measurement.

  • Ensures that the organization sustains its focus on strategy by integrating strategic focus concepts and principles into the organization.

  • Focus on integration of governance systems for strategy.

The corporate strategy team is primarily responsible for oversight and administration of strategy execution. Managing strategy is different than managing functions:

  • Traditional competencies are based on functional niches which create silos.

  • Strategic management requires cross-functional processes.

  • There is no logical home for cross-functional processes.

In general, the corporate strategy team is the custodian of cross-business processes required to execute strategy. The corporate strategy team owns or coordinates the following steps in the strategy planning cycle:

  • Strategy Development: The process to formulate and update strategy.

  • Strategy Management: Design and report on objectives and measures.

  • Organization Alignment: Ensure alignment of all organization levels with the strategy.

  • Planning & Budgeting: Link to strategy.

  • Human Capital Alignment: Ensure alignment of each individual with the strategy.

  • Strategy Communications: A comprehensive communication and education process focused on strategy.

  • Initiative Management: Identify and oversee management of strategic initiatives.

  • Strategy Review Process: Ensure effectiveness of strategy review and learning meetings.