Let’s face it: the future is uncontrollable. But what if you knew that experts are about as successful at predicting the future as dart-throwing chimpanzees*, would you think differently about your strategy and execution?
No one ever has complete control, and external forces ultimately impact our organizations’ performance. The point is though that we are not helpless either. As Atul Gawande inspires me to say:
“Courage is the strength to recognize both realities. We have room to act, to shape our businesses, to influence our future.”
So here are some tips to get more courageous in your strategic execution:
1. Treat your Plan like a Hypothesis
Admit your strategy is unlikely to be 100% perfect. So, instead of guarding your strategy like a treasure, test it like it is a hypothesis. Have courage to put your stake in the sand, then test it by piloting your ideas, and adapt as you learn what is working, and what is not.
2. Address Root Cause
Once you change how you think about your strategic plan, you have to change how you talk about it too. If it is a hypothesis and you are testing it, then you will have the courage to shift your conversations from “Did you get that action done?” to “Did that action have any impact on what we are trying to achieve? If not, why not?” What is the root cause?
3. Improve your Objective Data
You will have more courage to test new ideas if you have objective data that provides insight into whether all your actions are having an impact. If you struggle to develop KPIs that provide meaningful evidence, improve your performance measurement process so that your measures are linked to your strategy and reveal signals that things are changing.
*Note Ana Swanson’s article reveals it is in fact true.
What other ways can you add courage to your strategy execution? I would love to hear!