“Do your strategic initiatives have teeth?”

Strategic initiatives are critical to delivering the strategy, but most executive teams only spend a fraction of their energy driving them.

Strategic initiatives are the changes that are critical to delivering the future of your company – the changes in culture, systems, or capabilities that will enable you to achieve the market share and profitability you want in your strategy.

Most management teams systematically drive out the important in favour of the urgent. It is only natural to talk about last week’s sales, and how to react to the competitions latest promotion. Think about the last few times your management team met together. How much time did you spend moving your strategic initiatives forward? How does this compare to the time and discipline you focused on current financial results? How does the rigour of measurement and monitoring compare? Do you really know whether these initiatives are on course or do they lack specific measurable results to enable you to track progress? I have seen several management teams develop a “conspiracy of silence” around strategic initiatives where nobody challenges vacuous progress reports and quarter after quarter go by without real results.

This habit undermined the management teams. The lack of accountability on strategic action became part of the culture of “how things happen round here”.

Far better for the health and discipline of the team would be to pare down the strategic initiatives ruthlessly to the couple that generate real energy and mental engagement. Create specific measurable results for each and allocate the management team’s time every time it meets to drive them forwards with the full force available.

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