Don't take your eye oﬀ implementation
PATRICK GOH/THE EDGE
by Aznita Ahmad Pharmy about them. By the time the new strategy was Speculand’s Implementation
announced, they were prepared for it. Compass for leaders
mplementing a strategy is never easy; the “Emotionally, they got on board and then
number of failed strategies over the years we explained numerically why the transfor- 1) People — leaders need to engage staff
is proof of it. Eight years of research by mation needed to happen. The change was members — their ‘strategy customers’
Bridges Consultancy show that nine out very well-received,” says Speculand. — and encourage them to take right
of 10 strategies fail to be implemented Culture also plays an important role in actions.
successfully. Something needs to change deciding how well a strategy is accepted by 2) Biz Case – the leader must explain
and it starts with the leaders. But before they employees. “The message here is that when both emotionally and numerically why
think about what they can do differently, lead- a leader implements a strategy, it has to ﬁt in the new strategy is important.
ers need to understand their role in strategy with the way the organisation works,” says 3) Communication – if you don’t
implementation. Speculand. communicate well, people won’t
“The leader has to oversee the implementa- Culture and communication are among the understand the change.
tion.They have to make sure people take action eight areas leaders must focus on in a frame- 4) Measure – put in place the right
in the right direction.They have to understand work based on the one Speculand explained in measure when you come up with
their role; most don’t.They either do too little his ﬁrst book, written six years ago.The other a new strategy, such as balance
or too much,” says Robin Speculand, chief ex- areas are: people,business case,measure,proc- scorecard, financial and process
ecutive of Bridges Consultancy International, ess, reinforce and review. measures.
in a recent interview. “It’s like a compass, so there’s no one area 5) Culture — a strategy has to fit in with
Speculand is the author of Beyond Strategy, more important than the other; some are more the company’s culture.
which outlines what leaders can do differently important for different organisations. One cli- 6) Process – if you ask people to deliver
to successfully implement strategy. ent may work on communication while another customer service fast and efficiently
One reason why implementation remains Speculand: If it Before announcing its new may work on measurement,” says Speculand. but they’re using obsolete systems,
one of the biggest hurdles leaders face is because takes one year tocustomer-centric strategy in “You’ve got to look at all of the eight, some then there is a disconnect between
they habitually underestimate it, he says. craft a strategy,2003, Microsoft Asia-Pacific are more important than others but you have to what you say and what you do.
“They [leaders] think the biggest challenge is it will take at decided to create awareness address each and every one simultaneously.” 7) Reinforcements – when people step
to come up with the strategy.When it comes to among its staff. Speculand’s
least two years to The global ﬁnancial crisis has only heightened up and demonstrate the actions and
implementation, many of them take their eyes implement it consultancy,which worked to- the importance of implementation,and this has behaviours aligned with the strategy,
off the ball. One of the rules of thumb — if it’s gether with Microsoft at the helped his consultancy experience a 5% growth reward and recognise them, not just
taking you one year to craft a strategy, it will time, placed posters that would arouse curi- over the last 18 months, says Speculand. financially but emotionally.
take you at least two years to implement it,” osity in the back office. One poster showed a “Leaders are under tremendous pressure to 8) Review – this is the weakest area of
explains Speculand. plane ﬂying with dark clouds on the horizon deliver for shareholders. In the past, if some- leaders around the world. The entire
One of the things leaders need to do is fo- and a caption that read, “Sunny weather today thing went wrong, companies just threw in implementation needs to be reviewed
cus on communication.A new strategy usually but there’s turbulence just ahead”. more money.Today, they don’t have the capital quarterly and parts of it every two to
faces resistance and this is where communica- A few more posters showed up over the next to do that.As a result, leaders have to do it right three weeks.
tion can help. few weeks and before long, staff started talking the ﬁrst time.”