Archive for January, 2013

#strategy execution is like flying a glider

Now before I start let me say from the outset I am not a pilot, the closest I have come is sitting in the co-pilots seat on a joy flight.  But thinking about that very fun experience it occured to me there are some lessons we can learn when it comes to strategy execution.

First off though we have to get our glider in the air.  It needs the power of a winch or a tow plane (or if it is really flash it has it’s own power it can shut off once it is at the right height).  So the power to launch our strategy has to be there, the long term goals, culture, leadership, time, resources and energy as well as the change programs all need to be in place.  If these aren’t then all we have is a glider sitting on the ground!  Lots of good intent and ideas going nowhere fast.

Once we have our glider launched then the fun begins.  We need to keep enough forward momentum to keep us aloft and we need to seek out favourable currents to allow us to stay aloft and gain height for the maximum time to reach our ultimate goal.  If we don’t we would find ourselves back where we started in a short time.

In strategy terms that means keeping a rhythm or cadence which keeps the execution moving forward, avoids milestones stalling and maximises the organisational energy available to keep on the strategic journey.  If we don’t then we find that strategy work comes to a halt, people fail to engage and execute and the whirlwind of daily issues overtake us.

Using a rolling 90 day cycle for each milestone with intermediate outcomes, key activities lists, structured reporting and on line communications tools are strongly recommended as the supporting currents which keep the execution “flying”.  At the end of each cycle you must reassess the landscape and reset your targets and activities for the next 90 day period, right through the year.

We also encourage the inclusion of reporting of progress on strategy outcomes as part of the regular management review cycle, at least on a monthly (30 day) basis.  Just as you would be continually monitoring your position, height and progress in your glider and adjusting the control inputs.

Smooth, regular and timely input generates smooth execution, avoids the stop – start and the last minute catch up approaches encountered in many organisations.  It should be part of the natural culture within a team or organisation. (Our research shows if you don’t operate this way then your plan will almost certainly not be executed.)

So remember the cadence; 30 day, 90 day and yearly review points.  At the end of the year if you have executed to best practice you can land your glider at the exact point you set out for!  And then start the process all over again …..

Remember – smooth cadence, constant attention, simple communications and clear focus.

Sound like the kind of organisation you want?  Let me know what you think.


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