Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Communicate Your Strategy

Communicate Your Strategy

by Bud Bilanich

I saw an amazing piece in USA Today just a few days ago. It was in the lower left corner of the front page of the business section called USA Today "Snapshots." Here's the exact quote:

"Most employers don't share company strategy - Of the companies with a formal strategy in place, 70% describe their performance as better than their competition, compared with 27% of those without it, according to a survey. Percentage of companies that tell their employees what the strategy is: 95% don't tell, 5% tell."

The survey, entitled "Making Strategy Execution a Competitive Advantage," was conducted by the Cognos/Palladium Group and included responses from 143 strategy-management professionals.

I wasn't surprised by the first result. It's difficult to perform if you don't have a strategy. On the other hand, I find it shocking that 95% of companies that have a strategy don't communicate it to their employees.

This just is not common sense. How can people execute a strategy if they don't know what it is?

Clarity of purpose and direction is one of the secrets in my book, 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations. To me, creating and achieving clarity of purpose and direction goes something like this:

  • Your mission defines your purpose for being - why you are in business.
  • Your vision defines a medium-range goal - what you hope to accomplish in the next three to five years.
  • Your strategy defines a plan for reaching your three to five-year vision.
  • Your annual business plans break your strategic plan into one-year chunks.
  • Business unit, department and individual objectives define accomplishments for all organizational units and individual members of your organization.
  • If individual, department and business-unit objectives are met, you should achieve your annual business plan.
  • If you achieve your annual business plan each year, you have successfully executed your strategy, and you will have achieved your vision.

I don't know how any of this can happen if your people are not aware of your strategy. To me, communicating your strategy throughout your organization is so much common sense that it's a no-brainer.

Bud Bilanich is president of the Organization Effectiveness Group in Denver, CO, a management and leadership consulting group whose clients include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, AT&T, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. For a lively exchange on leadership, management and running a business, visit his blog, Common Sense Guy.