Phillip Kotter recently published a blog – “Forget the Strategy PowerPoint“ on HBR where he speaks about how should a CEO communicate or cascade the organizational strategy, so that the entire organization not only understands the strategy but is also enthused by it. He introduces the concept of “Big Opportunities” and while communicating this to be able to connect to hearts and minds of the employees.
Even before we start talking about how to communicate the strategy to all employees, I would even want to take a step back and think if this is truly necessary at all.
In my opinion, it is important for the employees to have an understanding about the general direction that the organization us moving in and what opportunities or challenges that the journey in that direction could throw out at them.
And know how the organization expects them to react to such opportunities or challenges.
Nothing more nothing less. Everything else only adds complexity and confusion.
It is the role of the management to translate the organizational strategy into these byte sized chunks of information that is
- Useful (how this impacts their day-to-day work)
- Contextual (every team needs to adapt this to their context)
- Actionable (enable employees to move the strategy forward)
Unless the corporate strategy is translated and shared in this manner, one would find it very challenging to put the strategy to action.
Some ideas about how do you translate the corporate strategy to information that is useful, contextual & actionable to the employees.
- CEO’s or the corporate strategy team needs to take the ownership to explain or cascade the corporate strategy to all the managers in the organization (Line Managers).
- Ask these managers to list down how the strategy impacts their areas of influence.
- Ask the managers to create a list of potential opportunities or challenges that the strategy could pose for their teams.
- Then list down how should the teams react to these situations.
- Use role plays to showcase these behavior to the employees.
- Seek feedback from the employees about the role plays and incorporate valid feedback into the role plays.
I understand that there could be a challenge of scale in this approach. How do you expect a small team of corporate strategy to be able to ensure that all the managers have understood the strategy correctly and the list that they are creating for their teams are the right one’s.
This is where the entire management teams become responsible. In a large organization, the most important area of responsibility of the senior & middle management is their ability to put the strategy to action.
Also, use technology to enable this to scale. The managers could use technology (internal collaboration tools, or channels like YouTube (where you can still upload videos and tag them personal). The corporate. And with the CEO instilling it in the culture of the organization to start any meeting or all-hands with the role-play based on a specific aspect of putting the strategy to action. This would provide an on-going way to keep the dialogue on strategy going and at the same time to course-correct where the managers might have made a judgement error.
For the approach above to work, there are 2 critical conditions that need to be met:
- The managers within the organization are truly engaged with the organization and
- Their incentives are aligned to moving the strategy to action.
Do you think this approach could work in your organization? Is the strategy to action initiative in your organization succeeding? If yes, please share how you achieve this so that we can all learn and grow together.