How to move from theory to meaningful action
Regular strategic updates in business often have a low degree of impact on the organization, and as a result low level of engagement from management in coming up with the best thinking necessary for the company or division.
How can this be changed?
Firstly, define with your group what it is you want to accomplish. Your accomplishment in a Strategic Update will be to decide and approve or recommend on actions to be taken by the business. I call these implementation actions. You can call them any name that works for your organization as long as it is clear that the result and outcome will be to take meaningful action.
The implementation actions can be roughly broken into four large categories:
- Implementation Action known and agreed upon- time to take action
- Implementation Action has a series of alternative possibilities- time to determine and agree on which is best
- Implementation Action is not clear/unknown- requires identification and clarification
- Implementation Action requires board or other (example: regulatory and/or compliance) approval
The second step is to agree with your group if the categories work for you. If you need to adjust them do so- keeping in the context and mutual agreement that action will be taken.
The third step is to assign responsibilities and time deadlines which are documented as an output of the meeting:
- For implementation actions which are known and agreed upon, decide who will do exactly what by when- do not leave space for ambiguity or “we will see” type of answers.
- For implementation actions which face a series of alternative possibilities- assign a person to work with the necessary stakeholders to assess systematically the alternatives and come up with a process documented recommendation which will be decided upon and moved into area 1 (Implementation action which are known and agreed upon).
- For implementation actions which are not clear/unknown- determine who will identify the best course of actions and prepare the alternative possibilities (moving above to areas 2 and ultimately 1).
- For approvals- agree on a concise format which will be used to prepare areas 1 through 3 above (minimal pages with only the required data backup) and set a date to gain approval with board or required departments internal and external.
- Set a date for follow up and tracking.