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New Strategy/ New Goals

There are three big obstacles to rolling out a new strategy.

1) Fear of the unknown – When a group is looking at doing something they have never done before or going in a direction with which they have never had experience, it is scary. It requires courage to look at what it is going to take. There is also ambiguity, which a lot of people are very uncomfortable with, so getting more comfortable with ambiguity is part of the equation. Along with fear of the unknown is fear of exposure. Not being totally sure we are going to be successful can be part of the challenge in this first obstacle.

2) New strategy that is inconsistent with the current organizational culture – For example, if the current culture demands that functions of the business think separately but our new strategy is going to require some cross-functional work together, that is not the way we have normally done business. Thinking out what that change is going to mean and how we are going to do things differently is challenging.

3) Time – Time is required to do anything new and different. Patience and a long-term view are required. We are quite used to going for the short wins, the low hanging fruit, the quick and sometimes the easy. New strategies and new goals are rarely quick and easy. Patience, fortitude, perseverance and being willing to commit over the long term can be very challenging.

Best-in-class companies think about four best practice steps when implementing a new and very challenging strategy.

Center on the process. They understand that there is a process and that there will be several moving parts, and they commit to seeing that process all the way through. The first step in the process is thinking about and identifying all the stakeholders. What are the levels of engagement that will be required from these stakeholders to really do a quality job?

Achieve clarity about decision-making. They know who gets to decide what. Nothing will upset a team faster than a feeling of unfairness or a lack of equity regarding who gets to decide. Being very clear about the levels of decision-making and when the leader is going to decide versus when the team is going to come to consensus is critically important.

Allocate resource. Frankly speaking, this means putting your money where your mouth is. If you are going to take on a significant new strategy, your resource allocation should look a little different. It is important to think about what resources the new strategy will require and how to stage those resources, and to secure enough resources to make a difference.

Understand the pitfalls to strategy execution. Only about 20 percent of organizations are successful in implementing a new strategy, so considering support is important. That support could be internal from other areas or departments that have had success with significant goals and strategies, or it could be outside support. Either way, the pitfalls are significant enough to warrant some good thinking about support.

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