Making that hard-earned strategy work

Corporate strategy is part and parcel of running a business yet despite all the time invested in it two thirds is never executed.

According to recent studies, two thirds of corporate strategy is never executed. Companies spend a lot of time and resources to think ahead, to decide their long-term vision and strategy. They engage consulting firms and their top leaders to do so. They involve many people and resources to produce well presented documents and presentations to display their plan and strategy.

Only to see that two thirds of it will never be executed.

The issue is rarely the quality of the strategy and action plan decided. One of the biggest challenges for companies today is execution. They might be clear on their strategy, on where they want to head. But if you check what people are doing on a day-to-day basis, what they spend their time on hour per hour, you realise there is often a big gap between what they are doing and what they are supposed to do.

Over the years I have worked with many organisations in Australia, from large international companies to small businesses. I have found that some simple rules and best practices resonate with most people, regardless of the industry they are in and their role.

Part 1 - The simple rules to increase personal productivity*

– Think quarterly

The first characteristic of highly successful people is that they are very clear on the goals they want to achieve and what they need to do to achieve them. By deciding what to achieve, you need to decide not only on what to focus on, but also on what you will not do.

As the leadership expert Peter Drucker put it 'the key of strategy is omission'. That is, the key is not only to decide what you want to do but, as importantly, what you will not do. Too many people take too much on, and struggle to do anything well.

Once a quarter, block off an hour and ask yourself a simple question: 'What are the two or three things that, if I did them extremely well over the next three months, will have a significant long-term impact on my performance?'

Stick to two or three, no more. Yes, that’s hard. We always want to do too much. Be clear on, what I call, your high impact activities, write them down and pursue them.

– Plan weekly

Once a week, review your three high-impact activities for the quarter and organise your coming week. These activities have to become a must, a priority.

Book meetings with yourself in your diary to advance your three activities. Organise your calendar so that 60 to 80 per cent of your time is spent on them.

It's easy to understand, harder to do. Very often the people I coach argue that they have a lot of urgent crises to attend to before having the time for these high impact activities. Guess what, last minute crises will always happen. If you wait for a perfect time you might wait a long time.

Your high impact activities need to become a must. The first thing in your diary. The rest will have to fit around.

– Act daily, focus

On a daily basis, be disciplined. If you have booked a meeting with yourself to spend two hours on one of your high impact activities, be 100 per cent focused on this topic. No distraction, no interruption, no starting late, having a break or checking a few emails mid-stream.

Ask yourself a simple question: why would you have less respect for meeting with yourself than with someone else?

If you have a meeting with a very important client, it’s likely you will arrive on time and well prepared. You would not dream of making a few phone calls, allowing interruptions from colleagues or checking your emails during the meeting. So why would you want this to happen to yourself?

When you have a meeting with yourself to progress one of your high impact activities, start on time, focus 100 per cent, don't allow interruptions and distractions.

*Part 2 and part 3 will be developed in two following articles.

Cyril Peupion and his team at Primary Asset Consulting’s main focus is to increase productivity and work life balance by changing work habits. Cyril is the author of ‘Work Smarter: Live Better’, which featured in the top 10 business books in Australia and top 100 Amazon worldwide.

For further resources and information on Primary Asset Consulting visit www.primaryasset.com.au

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