According to a study by Michael Beer and Russell A. Eisenstat, published in the summer 2000 issue of "Sloan Management Review," the six silent killers of strategy implementation are top-down or complacent upper management, unclear strategy and conflicting priorities, ineffective senior management team, poor vertical communication, poor coordination across the enterprise and inadequate middle-manager and supervisor management skills. Training and communication are key to overcoming these challenges.
Engage all levels of your company in the strategy planning process. Information flow from the lowest levels of the company up to the decision makers, brings valuable enterprise information to the decision and planning process. Top management must be fully aware of how the company operates and how change will affect operation.
Communicate the need and how decisions were made to fill that need. Employees and all stakeholders must understand why the strategy is being put in place and its goals. Change often causes paranoia among employees. Making them feel they are an important part of the change process and educating them about the details will help to create enthusiasm and cooperation instead of paranoia.
Obtain buy-in by all key employees and stakeholders involved in implementing the strategy. No matter how brilliant top management thinks the new plan is, if the production department thinks it is unworkable, they will resist change and the plan will likely fail.
Conduct informational sessions or training to achieve a comfort level with new strategic processes and procedures. This is the time to make any necessary changes to the plans as gaps and mistakes appear. Informational sessions often elicit helpful suggestions from staff and line employees.
Implement the new strategy with fanfare. It is important that all levels of employees are enthusiastic about the change and feel as though they have been rewarded for their help in bringing it about. There must also be a broad understanding of when the change begins, so create a launch date or schedule that everyone knows and can easily follow.
Start your planning process with an enterprise-wide series of brainstorming sessions. Report the decisions made as a result, and review the feedback on those decisions. If bottom-up information flow has been weak in the past, it will take some time to gain the trust of line personnel and to encourage their candid response.
Victoria Duff specializes in entrepreneurial subjects, drawing on her experience as an acclaimed start-up facilitator, venture catalyst and investor relations manager. Since 1995 she has written many articles for e-zines and was a regular columnist for "Digital Coast Reporter" and "Developments Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public administration from the University of California at Berkeley.