Over the last several months, we’ve seen our clients innovate in amazing ways to survive and thrive during the COVID-19 crisis. We have had clients shift their manufacturing facilities to make masks and medical gowns, we’ve had clients begin delivering in-person services via digital technology almost overnight and we've seen clients find ways to sell existing products to new markets. Our own team embarked on a series of two-week sprints to focus on innovating new service models to better serve our clients’ evolving needs in these changing times.
It seems counter-intuitive on some level to innovate in a crisis; when you are in “survival mode,” it can be really hard to think of new ideas—but as they say, "necessity is the mother of invention." In a crisis, you may be willing to try things you previously thought were crazy, or you may be forced to see a problem or opportunity from a totally new perspective. In an ideal world, you’d have an “idea bench” full of ideas to jump-start your process such as new products, services or markets you’ve thought about but never focused on pursuing; partnerships you can leverage in creative ways; big ideas that can set you apart from your competition that you can get done with a short period of intense focus.
If you’ve done the hard work to generate a strategy for your company to survive, recover, and thrive in these uncertain times, how do you move it forward? In many cases, workers are still remote and communication, alignment, and focus on your new strategy may be more difficult to pull off than ever. After all, strategy without execution yields no results.
If you are struggling to move your strategy forward, here are some concrete tips:
- Use the 5Cs to diagnose issues and manage change. If you are making a change in your company’s strategy (offering new products, services, operating procedures), you can’t share the vision once and expect everyone to fall in line. The 5Cs provide a helpful framework to think through and ensure you are bringing people along with you:
- Common Purpose - Did you share the why behind the strategic shift? How will it impact the company, your organization’s mission, and your team members personally? Ensure the team understands the stakes and why the change is necessary (for example: if we don’t get this strategic shift right, we can’t pay full salaries, or we have to lay people off).
- Clear Expectations - Does everyone know their role in the change? Do they understand the specific goals they will be accountable for reaching under these new circumstances? Do they know what success looks like for this new strategy?
- Communication and Alignment - How are you sharing the plan? Have you communicated via multiple channels and followed up to ensure your message was received and understood? Are your teams and departments aligned with the new strategy?
- Collaboration and Coaching - How are you monitoring progress along the way? Do you have a way to work together to make adjustments as your strategy is rolling out? Do you have a mechanism to provide timely feedback and coaching to the people who are executing the new strategy?
- Consequences - Are you intentional about defining consequences upfront (everyone understands what positive and negative outcomes are from the beginning)? Are you consistent in celebrating victories and learning from mistakes?
- Establish a rhythm of work to drive your strategy through the organization. It’s not enough to have a great strategy session and roll it out in a big bang Zoom call with a beautiful PowerPoint. What next? You need a cadence for getting the work done—stopping to reevaluate and make adjustments as needed along the way. Apply our Rhythm of Work™ framework to determine the right strategy, create execution plans for the year and the quarter to support that strategy, cascade it through the organization for alignment, meet weekly to collaborate and make adjustments to stay on track, and do the work to execute the plan and coach your team daily.
- Go virtual. Don’t let anything disrupt your rhythm of work. If your strategy is critical to your company’s survival and your rhythm of work is the key to successfully executing that strategy, do not skip your planning sessions or weekly adjustment meetings no matter what. These become more indispensable now than ever, so protect them by going virtual. You can have a highly effective, extremely focused virtual planning session that will be more affordable and less disruptive for your team. You can also move your team to virtual dashboards to have visibility into your progress toward your strategy. Rather than chasing down the most recent version of the strategy spreadsheet or trying to figure out the status of that critical milestone, implement a system like Rhythm software so you can have real-time insight into the work being done on your strategic goals and always know exactly where your execution stands.
If you are struggling to move your company’s strategy forward, consider employing the 5Cs, establishing a rhythm of work and going virtual for your meetings, planning sessions and strategy execution management.
Take a look at these other resources on strategic plans:
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images