Focus & Prioritisation - Best Practice for Strategy Execution

Focus & Prioritisation - Best Practice for Strategy Execution

How to optimise focus and prioritisation for strategy execution. Cadence, time management, ownership, and situational awareness are all key in strategy execution.

For teams, companies, and employees, there are just three things needed to be successful:

1. Focus - understanding what their job is working towards and how it is contributing to an organisational or customer value

2. A challenge - after giving focus, teams either need stretch or milestone based goals (often focused on outcome over output) that they can work towards

3. Support - this allows autonomous teams, all working towards the same goals to stand on their feet and go    

This focus brings engagement, which in turn creates a 21% increase in profitability through a 17% increase in productivity. Challenge brings a decrease in employee turnover and increases goal engagement, with employee support acting as the backbone of these stats. 

When surveyed, our group of strategy experts also ranked focus and prioritisation of goals as the most important execution principle in reference to goal and strategy success, above alignment, agility, and retrospectives.

In this blog we break down the 3 key factors in creating focus and prioritisation in relation to strategy and strategy execution, including references to the use of deadlines, cadence, time management, situational awareness, and outcome over output based goals. 

Finding out what moves the needle

Good strategy execution is just as much about what NOT to focus on, as it is what you should be focusing on. These clear set of choices should guide the whole organisation, guesswork and wishful thinking simply will not help.

Successful execution towards strategy helps clarify the tasks and goals that should be prioritised and de-prioritised to reach the north star goal you had initially set. This is also where the term ‘focus’ becomes more ‘focusing on what matters’. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘busy doing nothing’ which can sometimes just be the result of not knowing exactly what it is that is moving the needle, as a pure number focus, and the finger-pointing around excel spreadsheets cannot be described (and often is), as successful strategy execution

Some studies have suggested that 60% of your work should be focused on ‘moving the needle’, and you can do so by these simple steps:

  • Having key results/KPIs that break down a larger goal into smaller and more manageable projects
  • Measuring the effect of these tasks towards the completion of overarching goals on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis (nothing matters as much as cadence in this scenario)
  • Through this measurement, becoming more agile as a team, doing more of what seems to work, experimenting, and stopping the tasks that don’t seem to help the move towards the completion of your overarching goals
  • Do a retrospective after each cycle, and ask what worked, what didn’t work, and how you can improve your management practices
  • Boil it down to these questions - "what am I really trying to do", and every Friday saying "am I closer or farther away from that thing."

The importance of cadence for successful strategy execution 

The creation of a great company culture is imperative to success.

Whether you’ve embedded psychological safety as a core principle or not, the increase of, and focus on cadence of feedback and discussion, improves not only the awareness of any potential strategic problems or issues before they have any real impact, but also improves social collaboration, remote employee wellbeing, and can help unite teams behind a common goal

Cadence should be considered at all stages of strategy development and strategy execution, meaning that you should develop a cadence of feedback and analysis before starting to work towards a goal, and underline what you aim to achieve in these review meetings as you move along.

These ‘check-ins’ not only increase agility, but also alignment, increasing employee support of the overarching company direction.

This established regular cadence can then set the pace of a team's work (ensuring sustainability), whilst also resolving any confusion from those working towards goals due to a top-down, bottom-up and sideways out flow of feedback.

The importance of Time Management and situational awareness

95% of employees are unaware of their company's strategies, which means that situational awareness, and in-turn, time management need some work in most organisations. 

The first step in this process is a move away from ‘short-termism’ of goals, especially at the expense of longer-term well thought out goals, which is a trend we have seen in the past 5 years. Many companies, potentially due to covid, think in the here and now, with much less forecasting, no longer having a mixture of long and short term goals, but rather focus on short term sprint goals

Situational awareness of goals, and effective time management is often down to good management. A manager's role is to enable their team, through encouraging clear ownership of tasks, with obvious support for their development and interests. 

  1. Understand company goals
  2. Plan how to get there
  3. Communicate & plan this WITH employees
  4. Encourage ownership of these goals, and encourage them to discover the HOW
  5. Support in this process

This clear ownership and support of tasks enhances employee situational awareness and time management, also improving focus and productivity, as 91% of employees say better time management will lead to reduced stress at work and just over 90% say that better time management will lead to increased productivity. Even better than that, 84% say it will help in reaching goals faster which is the end goal for strategy execution. 

Interested in hearing more about enhancing focus and prioritisation for strategy execution? You can book a free 15-minute call with our team here.

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