Sharing your strategy – Creating a strategy is often the most enjoyable part of strategic planning. The excitement of looking to the future, creative minds are encouraged to think big, like-minded people come together to work with each other. But when the strategy has been built, the real challenge is to successfully communicate it throughout the organisation.
To share or not to share?
Business leaders invariably question how much of the company strategy they should share – especially to ground-floor workers. Often, companies simply provide strategic detail to managers, believing that key points will percolate down, or that ground-floor workers simply don’t need to know.
However, businesses that take this half-hearted view will invariably see their strategic efforts fail. If employees don’t know about the strategy and its detail, they can’t get behind it. Equally, if they feel they are simply being fed top-down ‘dumbed down’ messages, they will feel disengaged and certainly unwilling to offer that all-important discretionary effort that sees performance rocket.
The right people
In truth, if you are having a discussion about how much of your strategy should be shared, then there is a good chance you have missed the point already! The most successful way to get buy-in to a strategy is to have the right people involved from the start. Usually, this means subject matter experts, the front line or shop floor workers who have been around the block, they have been with the company for years and know it inside out. The people who prefer to do the work rather than progress to a management position. The people who everyone looks to when there is a problem, not because they manage, but because they are experts. These people should have been involved in formulating the strategy. They should be included in strategic planning sessions. If they are bought into the strategy, then they will act as evangelists and everyone else will buy-in as well.
However, even with the right people in place, you will need a communications plan.
Your front line people need to:
- Know that there is a clear strategy and have a level of detail behind it that suits their needs.
- Feel that the organisation’s senior managers value them and need their input to achieve the strategy – hence their willingness to bring them in on the detail.
- Truly understand their role in delivering the strategy
- Feel that their unique performance can – and will – make a difference in achieving it.
To make this happen, you need to communicate your strategy to every level of the organisation. For some organisations, this will involve opening up the entire strategy and its detailed metrics to every employee. For others, it may involve sharing high-level messages and then tailoring updates and metrics to each stakeholder group.
The role of transparency
The driving principle for success is that strategy must be as transparent as possible for it to walk. Picture this ideal scenario where every front-line worker understands that his job is to make the strategy happen in some way. An organisation where the strategy is a living thing that teams talk about, read about, discuss in team meetings and think about. An organisation where every individual knows that her hard work and performance will result in tangible benefits such as a performance-related bonus. Critically, this means sharing detailed strategic information and it means trusting your people to use it in the right way.
Making it work
The good news is that modern strategic software makes it easier to succeed at strategy communication. For example, with Spider Impact, business leaders can:
- Set permissions that allow different people within the organisation to see different levels of strategic measurement and output. (This can be left as open to all for total transparency, or different levels of permission can be granted where appropriate.)
- Share strategy dashboards once published, so that everyone can see the latest information, and view the information in a way that best suits their learning style.
- Export strategic update presentations to PDF, Word, Powerpoint and even Excel
- Easily create data on a real-time basis, whenever required – for example, for a team meeting, company update, lunchtime progress presentation and so forth.
In short, Spider Impact makes it easy to succeed at strategy communication. Used as a tool that enables business leaders to communicate, and which encourages a two-way, ongoing conversation about the strategy and its deliverables, the strategy becomes a living thing that drives forward focus and effort within the business. And at that point, performance becomes focused and the results start to flow in.
Want to find out more?
Our team of consultants have years of experience in strategy planning, delivery, analysis and communication across a wide range of industries and profit/non-profit models. For a no-obligation chat about how we might support your organisation to better succeed with its strategy, please contact us.