by Dan Bruder, author of “The Blendification System: Activating Potential by Connecting Culture, Strategy, and Execution“
Businesses have experienced one of the most dramatic shifts in history over just a few months in 2020. While many leaders are hoping that the market and economy will return to their pre-COVID-19 state, it is likely many of the factors we’re experiencing now will remain and potentially accelerate.
The changes that your business is currently undergoing may appear to be directly related to COVID-19, but if you dig deeper and are honest, COVID-19 simply accelerated many changes that were already taking place. Here is a list of several of the items that are being attributed to COVID-19, but were already in process before March of 2020:
- Work from home (WFH) or work from anywhere (WFA)
- Integration of personal life and work life
- Online product sales
- Virtual sales presentations and customer service
- Digital learning and development
- Cultural and social impacts of technology
- Environmental impacts and practicality of driving to work
- Flexible office design
None of these factors are new, and all of them (along with countless others) have been widely predicted for the last several years. COVID-19 simply sped up the rate of change to a pace we have never experienced.
Welcome to the future! 2020 has taught us that external impacts to business have a substantial effect on an organization’s ability to align employees, connect with customers, and enhance communities. While the trigger may be different, it is likely that businesses and society will experience additional impacts that increase the need for creating agility in the ability to execute while maintaining rigidity in organizational focus.
What you do over the balance of 2020 may be the most critical and important steps taken in the life of your career and business. Specifically, your ability to implement an empowering, engaging, and responsive strategic operating system within your organization will determine your organization’s level of success and impact for years to come.
This is not a year to do the traditional strategy retreat or planning sessions.
The balance of 2020 is the time to create and implement a strategic operating model. There is a distinct difference between a strategic operating model and a strategic plan. Strategic plans are PowerPoint decks, generally highlighting various strategic objectives that seldom connect with most of the employees. Strategic plans routinely lose relevance shortly after the plan is created—especially when external change outpaces internal adaptability. A strategic operating model develops and implements a strategic platform that engages multiple layers of the organization in a cross-functional peer accountability structure, making strategic execution the passion and responsibility of many.
To develop a highly effective, agile strategic operating model for the future, the following steps need to be taken before year-end:
- Create a Strategic Leadership Team
- Take the Strategic Leadership Team offsite to do the following
- Conduct strategic analysis
- Develop rigid strategic focus for key areas of the business (Customers, Product, Operations, and People)
- Establish tangible strategic outcomes
- Identify preliminary strategic actions
- Create internal Roots Groups, peer accountability groups to own strategic execution and outcomes
- After the offsite, engage internal Roots Groups in strategic execution meetings
- These groups are empowered to change and modify the strategic actions quickly to support rapid adaptation to changing conditions
- Implement a structured series of Connection Meetings where the Roots Groups connect to the Strategic Leadership Team
- Conduct regular Calibration Meetings to adapt actions to changing external impacts
When this type of strategic operating model is implemented, the people within the organization that are closest to the customer and market take ownership for strategic execution. When this is done effectively, strategy becomes the bridge between culture and execution, thus unifying your culture, strategy, and operations. Employees see how their jobs have meaning and work with others to ensure the company stays ahead of or quickly adapts to changes.
Do not waste the next three months on creating a pointless strategic plan. It is essential that what’s left of 2020 becomes the time your organization embraces the accelerated rate of change and implements a strategic operating model built for speed, agility, and adaptation. The key lesson from COVID-19: the future requires an internal model that engages multiple levels of the organization in identifying and executing solutions. The rest of 2020 is not a time to wait for things to return to normal; it is the time to build an organization that is poised and confident about pursuing and realizing its potential in a lightning-fast future.
Dan Bruder is the creator of the Blendification® System, a strategic operating model that creates rigid strategic focus and agile execution for businesses to excel in rapidly changing markets, which he applies in his role as CEO of Fusion Dynamics Group. He is an Instructor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an Instructor of Strategy and Leadership at Colorado State University’s Executive MBA program. His new book is “The Blendification System: Activating Potential by Connecting Culture, Strategy, and Execution“.