Want Excellence in Strategy Execution? Get Your Leaders Involved

Let’s face it, people like their own ideas versus others.  Don’t you?  Furthermore, they are also more committed to implementing their ideas more than those from some external ‘experts’.  Beyond that I believe that the best ideas come from within your company ranks and just need a forum to be harnessed and mobilized.

I am in the middle of two interesting strategy development projects.  While the companies and situations are very different, there are some noteworthy similarities in the approach being taken.  One is an international energy services company looking to develop a global talent management strategy for their professional talent. The other, a therapeutic unit of a global pharmaceutical company, is seeking to articulate a culture shift strategy to become a more innovative and engaged customer-centric organization.

In both cases they have assembled their best and brightest thought leaders and executives to tackle the work.   In addition, neither has engaged an outside ‘expert’ consultancy to conduct exhaustive studies of trends ‘out there’ or identify “best practices” and come back with a pre-determined solution.  Instead, they have both decided to craft their strategic articulation using a collaborative process facilitated by an expert in strategic alignment and collaboration – C’est moi! (Forgive me – I couldn’t resist a little shameless plug JS)

The energy services company has brought together a global multi-generational/functional/level team to work on their talent management strategy.  The members of this team have been charged with conducting their own internal interviews and collecting articles and white papers from various sources as their informed research base.  The pharma company has assembled the sales and marketing leaders from their therapeutic unit and mobilized them in small teams to capture some ethnographic customer insights from their key constituents and coupled this with an “in-market” action learning experience where they conduct in-depth interviews with a selection of non-pharma companies who have successfully developed engaged and innovative customer-centric cultures. No boring trend and best practice presentations from outside firms that are usually too high level to be useful and too disconnected to be relevant.

In my view, strategy articulation sits at the intersection of informed current reality, future aspiration, relevant innovation and finally appreciation for implementation capacity and capability. This means answering four questions. Where are we now? Where do we want/need to be in the future?  What are potential game-changing ways to get there and what can we practically implement? The project work I am doing is nearing completion and in both cases there are emerging similarities. Those involved have become intellectually curious learning junkies about their constituents (global professional talent in one case and patients, physicians and providers in the other case), ideation factories for various strategic options, and importantly, realists in what can be implemented. As a bi-product they have all developed themselves individually by being active participants, versus bystanders, in the process.  And PERHAPS MOST IMPORANTLY, they are aligned, energized and highly engaged to make their strategy happen.  What more can you ask for?  Even a few well informed strategic options superbly executed will trump any brilliant market study informed strategic direction that has been dictated by external ‘experts’.

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