How companies can quickly adapt strategy execution to market disruptions

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Legacy business constructs often hinder strategy execution. Find out how your company can accelerate strategy execution and thrive during business fluctuations.

Image: iStockphoto/fizkes

Today, siloed departments and information; outdated, inflexible processes; and disparate tools and technology still remain a hindrance within many businesses. How can your company accelerate strategy execution and thrive during business fluctuations? According to a recent global benchmark study by Lawless Research and Planview, some companies have successfully embraced uncertainty to adapt to the speed of change. Here are the key takeaways to help your company quickly adapt strategy execution to market disruptions.

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The current state of business strategy and execution 

Companies around the globe have had to accept a new reality; disruptions are now the norm. Those not accelerating often hold on to legacy business processes, practices and systems that inhibit flexibility, dilute strategy, hinder execution and prevent effective fast decision-making. What’s the end result? Companies need to speed up or risk these consequences:

  • The inability to quickly shift annual plans and budget cycles.
  • A failure to meet business objectives or realign swiftly as strategic plans become increasingly detached from reality, widening the gap between strategy and execution. 
  • The inability to adequately support new ways and methods of working further limits agility and visibility into progress.
  • Siloed information that results from failing to invest in having the data and analyses across strategy-to-execution for quality decision-making.

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Barriers to increasing agility and adaptability 

When trying to become more agile and adaptable, responding to the pace of change and a disconnect with the mix of technologies (tools usage) are areas where companies falter. 

When it comes to responding to the pace of change, companies struggle with three top barriers:

  • Complex governance or approval processes
  • Unclear or conflicting priorities
  • Lack of resources to complete all approved projects 

With the use of technology and finding the right mix of tools, companies encounter these difficulties:

  • Lack of consistency in processes
  • Information is in silos, not centralized
  • Lack of ownership for reporting and analytics
  • Lack of consistency on metrics definition
  • Lack of robust technology and reliance on spreadsheets

Successful businesses are leveraging the Strategy Execution Index to adapt better to change.

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The Strategy Execution Index: Quickness + quality in adapting to change

The Strategy Execution Index measures how fast organizations respond to disruption and quality of outcomes across five core strategy-to-execution competencies:

  1. Pivoting strategies and plans
  2. Reallocating funding and budgets
  3. Reprioritizing work execution and delivery
  4. Realigning people and teams
  5. Accessing and analyzing data for decision-making

The study found that companies fell into three categories: Leaders, which were the fastest organizations with the highest quality outcomes; challengers that were moving forward but unable to perform at speed consistently; and laggards, which were companies slower to respond to change and move forward.

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5 key processes required for successfully adapting strategy execution 

Companies can move faster and adapt and improve overall performance with confidence when disruptions happen or new opportunities arise by adopting and optimizing these five key strategy execution processes.

  1. Data analysis for decision-making
  2. Realignment of people and teams
  3. Reprioritization of work execution and delivery
  4. Reallocating of funding and budgets
  5. Pivoting strategies and plans

Understanding what needs to be done is just the beginning. Establishing some best practices is also essential for achieving successful outcomes, especially during times of continuous change.

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Best practices for accelerating strategy execution in uncertainty

The survey results reveal four best practices that can help companies set a path to speed up strategy execution and improve performance to accelerate and outperform competitors.

  1. Continuously re-plan. This facilitates rapid adaptation to changing business conditions. Almost half of the strategy leaders review and adjust strategies, funding and operating plans continuously or monthly.
  2. Use lean and agile practices broadly. This requires teams to be focused on the right work to deliver strategic objectives and for strategic initiatives to be delivered on time.
  3. From strategy to execution, provide timely, accurate data. Leaders are twice as likely to have immediate access to accurate data than challengers. Leaders find it three times less painful to retrieve and analyze this information, supporting faster, higher-quality decision-making.
  4. Invest in technology to understand the impact of changes. This helps demonstrate a level of conscious competence. Leaders are addressing their needs for centralized information and analysis capabilities. These companies realize that accessing and connecting relevant data across their disparate, legacy systems will become increasingly more difficult and slow them down.

Shifting mindsets, processes and technology

Effective strategy execution that successfully addresses market disruptions and moving fast to accelerate adapting to change require a shift in mindsets, processes and technology. Your organization will need to aim beyond resiliency, realign resources, break through the inertia of processes, cultivate real-time, high-quality strategy-to-execution decisions with modern technology—and recognize the opportunity cost of the status quo.

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