A strategy is the long-term vision for implementing change in your organization. It is the direction you are going, and the plan for getting there. Key to a successful strategy is a clearly articulated vision based on facts, and a set of initiatives to drive results. It is tempting to speed everything up, condensing the implementation of your strategy into the shortest possible time period. Tempting, but not wise.
Realistic Resource Loading
When it comes to implementing strategy, it is better to have a tight focus and a small number of changes at any point in time than to begin work on many initiatives at once. The initiatives are going to be realized through projects, and projects require resources. These are, for the most part, the same resources that you rely on for your company operations. Have you heard the phrase, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”? It just means you can’t eat everything you see. That applies to work. We always want to do more than our time and money allows.
A recent client asked me to help them get traction on their strategic initiatives. They felt they were not getting anywhere even though they were working on a variety of initiatives that would take them where they wanted to go. And that was the problem! They had 27 initiatives, for a staff of 12 leaders. They had been working on them for years and accomplished parts of some initiatives, but not all of any of them. The group was overworked and under resourced. The list didn’t even count the fact they were changing facilities and moving the whole operations in a few months.
First, we re-thought the strategy and defined what would be game-changing. Then we developed new initiatives, and finally we ranked them. There were still too many but more importantly, the sense of urgency on each was impractical. Eventually we got down to 8. Then we did the real work of determining how fast we could tackle each one and built a high-level master timeline.
We looked at the projects that would carry out each of these 8 initiatives, and then at the steps in each project, to identify the work load on each department in a given time period. We made adjustments in timing to make sure that projects would be scheduled realistically in terms of both cash flow and resource availability. This is called load-leveling, and once you have load-leveled the work, you have a much better chance of having the plan succeed!
You can’t do it all
Sometimes reality stinks, but it is reality. Typically, you can’t do everything you want to do and you can’t do everything at once. So, once again pick the most important project and start it first. Then” schedule the other projects that time and resource permit. In determining how many projects you can have “above the line” ask “How much can a department, leadership team, or other group reasonably do without dropping balls? How much resource can you reasonably invest in a given time frame without breaking the bank?”
This timeline becomes a management tool that can be used to track progress of all initiatives, within and across departments.