Leading Through Change: Ideas Are Free, It’s All About Execution

It does not matter whether your company is growing, slowing, or even flat, your role as a leader is to move it forward and take care of its employees, customers, and shareholders. In order to do that, leaders first must know where they are before they can build a roadmap. Let’s delve into the main steps needed to lead through change – no matter the phase you are in.

Know where you stand

It’s important to know where you and your company currently stand before you develop a strategic plan. Knowing where you and your business stand compared to the market and customer expectations establishes a benchmark needed to chart the course for your success. Knowing where you are is vital because 90 percent of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully, according The Balance Scorecard.

Be sure to keep your strategic plan pragmatic and relevant. If your plan loses its purpose, you and your team may risk going off the path of your plan and worse yet, not know that you are heading in the wrong direction. In fact, only 45 percent (not even half) of executive respondents to a McKinsey Quarterly survey said they were satisfied with the strategic planning process. What’s more, 23 percent indicated that major strategic decisions were aligned with or mapped against their plan.

You need to know your industry, know your customers and know yourself to truly understand what drives your business. The best performing companies take a capabilities-driven approach to strategy – find a truly distinctive way to provide value, powerful capabilities, and the confluence between the two. Use your figures from the last year or month as a benchmark for your current performance. Monitor where inquiries come from to establish which campaigns are most effective and why.

Targeting a specific market can help you develop your plan. Identifying your market base allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is most likely to buy from you. Conduct a competitor analysis to see who they’re targeting and who their current customers are. Understand where your competitors stand, from a positioning and value angle, and then look outside their areas of focus to make you stand out. Thinking outside of the box and exploring new markets can help you find a niche market that your competitors are overlooking.

Develop and execute a roadmap and plan

As you prepare to dive into change, take the time to build the product roadmap to be able to deliver the plan. Your business plan should set expectations for how your product will develop in future months, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. An agile product roadmap is especially helpful for young companies experiencing significant changes or in a dynamic market. This requires a goal-based—also known as theme-based—focus on goals, objectives and outcomes.

Here are the suggested steps for building a product roadmap:

  • Define your product strategy
  • Gather requirements
  • Assign a broad timeframe to your initiatives
  • Tailor your roadmap to your stakeholder(s)
  • Share your product roadmap

After you’ve developed your plan, be sure to set real dates to deliver new features, products and services. Giving yourself realistic deadlines will set you up for success. According to a Gallup Business Journal article, 39 percent of projects fail due to lack of planning, resources, and activities. You can prevent your project from failing by assigning a broad timeframe for your initiatives and identifying clear metrics.

Keep it simple while you create your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) but be sure to think of goals for the short term and long term. Select your most important KPI and look at the data and calculate your five-year target for that key KPI. Determine the right number of KPIs to develop for your company by assessing the minimum number of KPIs you will need to get to your goals.

Make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction

You can’t make change happen alone, so it’s important to communicate the plan to your entire team. In fact, 57 percent of projects fail due to a breakdown in communications. There are many ways you can regularly communicate your plan with executives, as well as proactive approaches you can take to encourage them to communicate with their managers regularly and consistently.

Here are some ways you can communicate the roadmap to your team:

  • Video simulcasts: With more remote workers, this gives every team member the opportunity to hear and see you speak about upcoming initiatives or your company’s future trajectory in real time, no matter where he or she might be working
  • Group events: Shared experiences, whether formal or informal, are important ways for individuals to “break the ice” and relate to one another more easily
  • Recurring meetings: Regular meetings with your senior management, and encourage your managers to do the same with their teams
  • Team lunches: encourage a culture of openness and collaboration on a smaller, more frequent scale

Get your team involved in the planning process to ensure that employee engagement stays high during these changes. Input from team members can be enormously helpful for managers because it can help correct oversights, adjust scheduling as needed based on internal and external factors, and get everyone aligned and invested in the outcome.

Utilize your team during these changes by delegating and designating roles. Ensure a clear understanding of roles, tasks and responsibilities by clearly defining, dividing among team members, and checking in often and regularly.

Provide the right tools and have the right project management system for your organization. Work as a team to evaluate processes and procedures to determine the best fit for your teams, your market and your objectives. Stay organized by keeping all documentation in one place. Eliminate wild goose chases and unnecessary added stress by maintaining an organized process for storing and maintaining documents.

Execution is the critical driver of success. Learn to lead strategically and confidently through change and you’re well on your way to achieving shared success for your company, your employees and your customers.

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