Strategic Initiatives has remained the buzz word with the corporate leaders for long and is still going strong. It becomes stronger everytime a downturn or a recession strikes the corporate world and we see that almost all companies start listing down the pending intiatives they wanted to work on. I am a member of few groups that keeps on discussing their success and failure stories and the lessons learnt from them and often I get to read some of the very candid confessions from the high profile Senior Management or Middle Management executives. I learnt that often, they worked on an initiative that was not close to their heart but they were working on it just because either a large number of people thought that it will make a difference to the company or they were asked to do it by the superiors. Generally, what happens when we start working on such initiatives - it goes without saying that such initiatives are more prone to failure or if they succeed, the impact that was expected from them is never achieved - and then starts the infamous blame game of corporate world.
Well, I do not intend to dissect few of the failed initiatives in this article but would like to list down few important points that I think, should be taken care before and during the course of initiative. I will be pleased to start a discussion also here to expand the list of these points so that this acts as a grand checklist for all of us:
- Gather proper buy-in not only from key stakeholders and sponsors but also float the idea to the key team leaders and members so that they get some time to air their views - It does not mean we need to involve each and every member to decide on all strategic intiatives but sending feelers will always help extracting some useful suggestions from the actual team who needs to implement that. This whole exercise will include creating a shared need, shaping a vision and mobilizing committment for the initiative
- Proper market intelligence always help to gauge the expected impact of the initiative after implementation. Market intelligence often stops at a measuring the target audience and sellability of the project/product alongwith few minor modalities around it but where we usually lack in MI is to gather some informatio and insights on where do we see the market to go in 5 years or longer time so that either we incorporate those features as part of the project or have a time bound review and revise plan in place
- Objective or the problem statement as said popularly in Six Sigma terms, is the head and heart of any initiative and I am including this point just to make the list complete
- Change Management, which is my favorite point, is one key point which if ignored has the potential to upset the applecart even if everything went as per plan and the required objectives were in time. Making the changes last is The most important part of a strategic initiative
- Monitoring progress is something, we all do without fail and it has slipped into this list smoothly. Having said this, it is important to know what all do we measure as part of monitoring progress, are we measuring the right metrics? Do we have an outside reviewer who can look at the process critically? We need to answer all these questions
- Interim rewards before the completion of initiative seems little costly and digressive affair but it works wonders within the team. Always try to find people doing the right things and reward them to set their examples to other team members and also to loudly communicate to the team that more and bigger rewards are in line
- Use the stick whenever you think that situation is going out of hand and the team is slipping out of the timelines or skidding away from the main objectives
- Periodically keep on reviewing the team composition and make sure that you have the right skills and backups available
Rightnow, I will stop at this list and will enhance the list in my next article....