Let your strategy guide your daily work - how to get started
By Humla Törd and Staffan Lindgren
Strategy in itself is a tool that will help your teams, employees, and stakeholders understand, accept, and support the decisions that are made and thereby avoid time spent on things that negatively affect your ability to reach your goals. However, in your day-to-day operations, it might be difficult to align and integrate your strategy with your daily work.
So, your strategy is all set and communicated, but you still don't seem to reach your goals. Why's that? To get started to work more strategically, there are a couple of things that you need to have in mind for it to work: You need to create the right conditions for your team by allocating time and resources, clarify where you are heading, adopt an experimental way of working and build capability for speed. Here are our tips on how to do it:
Allocate enough time and resources
The first thing to ensure is that there is enough time allocated for your team for reflection and strategic work. This might sound like something self-evident, but in many cases, the daily operations and activities take up all the time, leaving no or precious little time for thinking outside of the box.
Depending on the size of your team, the amount of time varies, but as a rule of thumb, 10-20 % of time and resources should be focused on this over time.
Clarify where you are heading
Most of the time, the direction is reasonably clear, but it's often not stated clearly enough to influence the daily work. The first step is to decide on where you want to go, remove what is not as important and then direct your decisions and budget towards these goals.
In daily work, two things are usually missing.
- The direction is known, but it has not been transformed into something that is used when making daily decisions, and as a consequence, you are not moving towards your goal.
- When prioritizing what to focus on in the daily work, the direction you want to head is not used to inform the decision.
Clarifying where you are heading is just the start. Making sure the base for prioritization is understood and used is equally important and the best way to do this is to co-create plans using the strategy as a base allowing the team to make the strategy their own.
Commit to start experimenting
In an ever-changing and complex world, having an experimental mindset supported by continuous learning is necessary to be able to change direction and adapt when needed.
With experimentation, we mean to test new things, observe the results, and learn from them. Do not wait for the strategy and measurement plan to be set and clear in every detail – just get started and learn as you go. The strategy can be adapted and clarified with the outcome of the experiments. Experimentation becomes a way to clarify and adapt your strategy.
- Pick a few goals to experiment with – do not do them all at the same time.
- Create small prototypes, test on a smaller scale. If it didn’t work, test again.
- Try something different. Observe. What happened? What can we learn?
A culture where you see learnings instead of mistakes will encourage your team to start experimenting, share their findings and allows everyone to learn.
Build capability for speed
One of the most important aspects of being able to implement any strategy is the speed of implementation, to be able to adapt your tactics when necessary. Invest in the ability to quickly create, test, measure and change how you work and what you prioritize.
The feeling of speed is almost as important as the actual speed
To fuel an experimental mindset, having enough speed in the work is important. If the delivery items are too large, the process feels slow while having small enough tasks makes the process feel faster, and of course, it also is easier to test and modify.
Create partial goals that support speed, experimenting and adaptation
Goals aim to facilitate decisions and prioritizations in daily work. Make sure that your goals can be broken down into subgoals that you can work with in order to reach the overarching goals. This way you can be much more adaptive.
Find enablers and obstacles
Involve your team to learn valuable insights on what is helping and what is stopping their ability to work with speed and with an experimental mindset. Strive towards autonomy to avoid dependencies which make decisions and planning difficult.
Having these tips in mind will help you get started with integrating your strategy in your daily work. Let us know if you need help with any of these steps, or to create your strategy. Read also our article From strategy to action.