Bridges specializes in making strategy and digital implementation succeed.
Our approach differs in that we don’t implement your strategy; the organization must own it and do it. We partner with you. We guide you through your journey and provide you the resources and advice along the way. We offer you tools, templates, and tips, highlight decisions that might not work, facilitate discussions and share our intellectual property for you to adopt and own.
Within 12 to 18 months, our clients are typically self-sufficient and we have made our services obsolete. Why? Because our goals are to change the approach being adopted by most companies in implementing strategy and transfer the required knowledge to succeed.
We start consulting in the latter part of the strategy planning, just before the board members sign off on the strategy.
Although we are improving, according to our research, this is still a poor ROI for the organization’s time, effort and revenue invested. In 2004 90% of implementations were failing. By 2016 it was 67% of failing and in 2020, 48% of strategy implementations failed.
Leaders today need both the ability to craft strategy and the skill to implement it.
Strategy implementation is a relatively new subject within business and as such the current generation of leaders have been taught how to plan, but not how to implement. This has created a strategy implementation skills gap that is a key contributor to why strategy implementation is so challenging.
We’ve also identified two other very important reasons implementation of strategy is so challenging:
1. Leaders habitually repeat past mistakes
Despite the high failure rate, leaders continue to adopt the same methodology used previously and unbelievably don’t make changes in their approach. As Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
A good practice for leaders is at the initial stages of their implementation, is to identify why implementation has failed in the past and what needs to be done differently to be successful.
2. Organizations lack the required discipline
Changing your strategy by default means changing the way your employees work. Asking employees to work differently will not happen from a 45-minute town hall meeting announcing the new strategy. It takes constant daily support, reinforcement and encouragement to take the new actions. It takes discipline to make this happen and this is something many organizations lack.
It’s similar to training for a marathon or becoming fit in the gym. It about doing it once a month or once a week it has to become a daily routine or a daily discipline.
We define strategy as the choices an organization makes. Implementation is about taking the right actions.
“Taking the right actions” means having the discipline to focus on what is adding value to implementing the new strategy.
It is time to change our thinking about implementation. Successful implementation, though not rocket science, does take discipline and structure. It is about doing many right things all at once.
In 2004, we introduced the Implementation Compass™. This framework highlights the eight areas where organizations need to focus to achieve their implementation. We called it the Compass because your strategy is your map showing where you are and where you want to get to. The Compass guides you to take the right direction and what actions to take.
The Implementation Compass is made up of these 8 key areas:
(1) North – People – The people implement strategy not the leaders and we need to invest the time to make sure we have the right caliber of people with the right skills.
(2) NE – Sharing the Biz Case – the biz case explains why the organization must change and create a sense of urgency around why the transformation.
(3) East – Nurturing Communicating – not just about creating an initial fanfare but constantly updating people about what’s going on what’s working, what’s not working and lessons learned as well as customer feedback
(4) SE – Measurement – Change your strategy, change your measurement. You need to know the measures that track your progress and help you identify where to take corrective action.
(5) South – Culture – Culture drives the way you implement and every organization culture is different therefore your implementation will be unique.
(6) SW – Processes – empower your people to improve the way they are working to implement the new strategy and to adopt new technologies and new ways of working that allows them to work quicker, easier and faster
(7) West -Reinforcing- the right actions. When people step up and take the right actions they have to be encouraged not in a year’s time at their annual performance appraisal but immediately
(8) NW – 8th and final area is Regular Reviews – most leaders only check the strategy implementation once or twice a year but it takes frequent monitoring to show that the implementation is important and where to take corrective action
“You can outsource the crafting of the strategy but not its implementation.”
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