Category Archives: Strategy Execution

How close is your brand to Consumers?

As a leader you should ask this question, is your brand working hard for you while you are busy making business presentations?

A brand is the sum of experiences you are providing to your consumer in the entire lifecycle. At each stage, there is an expectation from the consumer, if you are meeting 10/10 then you have the consumer as your advocate, if not you may have to struggle to retain your consumer.

India has been a customer acquisition market because of its size and population. We do not take customer engagement seriously, more so when it comes to giving experience. The focus is always been on acquiring, acquiring and acquiring more even if you are unable to give value or service to the consumer.

The mindset has to change. Today the customer is more empowered and has choices if you do not have a secret ingredient – then why should someone buy you? There are more like you in the market. You are just like a commodity and the only differentiator is your pricing and placement, not your brand!!

So what to do? Call your advertising agency- NO! Try this dipstick

Align – Brand journey starts inward outward. Each and every stakeholder in your company from Management, Sales, HR, Finance, IT, Admin, is your touching your customer directly or indirectly – ask them 3 questions

  1.  Why do we exist?
  2. What value we bring to our consumer
  3. What role do you play in achieving that agenda

If you get a clear and unified answer from each of your function,

  • Give a pat on your back
  • If NO, then you are barking at the wrong tree

Customer experience is not owned by one department, it is owned by the organizations. If you use OKR or Hoshin try incorporating this and see how aligned your teams are.

If you get this right see how growth unlocks, it sounds simple but it that elephant which is moving in your office yet no one sees apart from you !!!

Agile Practices in Strategy Execution

Strategy Execution is not just Execution problem, it’s also an Alignment and Accountability problem.For companies who have gone beyond the fight for survival, the next level of growth depends on how well the company is able to execute its strategic projects & goals.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Most often these strategic initiatives and projects take a back seat because the people who are involved in executing these projects are also involved in the day to day business operations. Another problem is; people who are involved in the execution of these strategic projects are also not communicated and aligned with why execution of these strategic projects are important for company growth and what’s in for them if execution goes well.

To cut short, CEO and Strategy Head doesn’t invest much of their time in getting the buy-in from the people who are actually executing the growth agenda.  And once the buy-in is their, company face problem in articulating what needs to be achieved and how the measurement on the progress of execution can be measured properly. Current strategy and project management practices and processes are primarily focused on

(a) breaking the projects into too many tasks and sub-task to make sure that people who execute the project should not apply their common sense in execution.

(b) collecting the status of the progress to put a RAG(Red, Amber, Green) status.  CEO/PMO office spend most of their time in collecting the status from various stakeholders involved in projects and task in those projects than spending time on why the executing getting delayed and whether the required outcome will be achieved or not. And whether the required outcome is still per what is required by customer and market.

To summarize, the 3 major problems to achieve the timely execution on strategic projects are

  1. The problem of Alignment and buy-in from people beyond the Senior leadership team
  2. The problem of Articulating what needs to be achieved, how it will be achieved and who will achieve it by when; which leads to the problem of accountability.
  3. Spending more time on Collecting status than analyzing what should be done to bring more agility in achieving the required growth.

While implementing the Strategy execution tool which qilo offers, I get a chance to work closely with many Strategy executions heads, CEO’s and teams. And the biggest challenge I see is lack of Agile Process in entire Strategy execution. I come from the world of Software and started my journey in developing Softwares in 2003,  when the primary model of developing the software was using the Waterfall model; which means that entire software is developed in one short. And by the time the software is presented to the customers and the consumers of the software, the business requirement were changed and/or software doesn’t meet what customer required from software.

And then came the Agile process of software development, where the team delivers the part of working software to the customer on the weekly or bi-weekly basis. The entire team of software developers and managers are divided into smaller teams who are working simultaneously on various parts of the software, and they interact every morning(called Scrum meeting) to share the status of the progress. The focus is more on working software over processes and documentation. And responding to change is more important than following a plan.

The same principles of Agile Software development can be applied to the Strategy Execution. Both Software and Strategy Execution are intangible in nature and the delay in delivery of both leads to high opportunity cost. By Applying the Agile practice to Strategy Execution, companies can radically improve the execution and outcome which can lead to accelerating growth. The current processes, Strategy Execution tools, and Strategy Execution software that support execution focus on following the plan than on getting the required outcome by working on collaboration cross-functionally.  Many companies across the globe have already realized the potential of applying the Agile practices in the other parts of execution in business and specifically in Strategy execution.

Are you ready for the Agile Execution of your Strategy?

 

Difference between OKR and KPI

CEO’s and companies who want to implement Objective & Key Results(OKR) as goal-setting framework are often in the dilemma on how OKR is different from traditional yearly KPI/goal setting methodology. And Why they should invest in a change that comes with OKR implementation. There must be good reason for implementing OKR over KPI(Key Performance Indicators).

The similarity between them is that both are the goal-setting approach but with different purpose, starting points, and execution ownership.Here are 3 major differences in both the approaches:

PURPOSE

The purpose of OKR is to achieve and improve Alignment and Execution across the company. The purpose is to enhance the accountability. The purpose is to improve the discipline across the company for how we can grow better & probably faster.

The purpose of annual KPI’s/Goal setting is to measure the performance of the individual at the end of the year. At the start of year, KPIs are set and than are put in under the carpet. At the end of the year, dust is removed from the KPI’s and people are asked to prove themselves as how good they have performed against those KPI’s.

STARTING POINT 

The starting point for OKR is the CEO’s/business Annual Operating Priorities(AOP) and/or Strategic growth & innovation priorities.

The starting point of KPI are the Job Description of the person or should I say the role to which that person belongs to or should I say Google.

OWNERSHIP AND WAY OF EXECUTION

For OKR the execution ownership lies with the CEO or COO or Strategy Head of the company and HR.  You have to create a team who understand the business horizontally and a team which can put stretched objectives and the team that can teach people across the company how to set OKR’s which are directly aligned with company’s operational agenda and strategic priorities.

In Objective & Key Results(OKR) framework, you define WHAT needs to be achieved(Objective) and HOW you are going to measure the progress on your Objective(Key Result). The Key Results can be owned by either the Objective owners or team members of Objective owners or team members from other departments. This results in breaking silos and accelerate the execution. Further OKR are agile in nature and are not fixed for year. They gets adjusted based on business conditions.

The ownership to set the KPI’s across the company lies with the HR. KPI’s sit in the silo without any context to an individual as how its impacting the company growth or help in achieving the operating plan. KPI approach worked when the organizations were simple, cross-functional collaboration was not that critical and bureaucracy & hierarchy was the acceptable norm. KPI’s are usually fixed for a year and remains static even if business conditions change.

Summary

  1. Purpose of OKR is alignment and execution, whereas the purpose of KPI is to measure the performance at the end of the year.
  2. CEO or people who understand the business horizontally drives OKR implementation, whereas KPI’s execution are owned by HR.
  3. The starting point of OKR is your Annual Operating Plan or your Strategic Priorities/Themes, where are input to KPI’s are your Job Descriptions.

Execution is the Key !

 

The biggest challenge for leaders who drive strategy execution is the lack of visibility on who is executing and who is not. And most importantly building predictability in Achievement. 

Very soon, qilo will be unveiling it’s Navigator feature. Which will empower CXO’s to clearly see the depth of the iceberg!  Whatever Strategy Execution model you use, OKR, BSC, Hoshin. If not executed well is just theory without impact.

Unveiling soon…

7 Steps to achieve success in OKR Implementation

OKR is a management tool to drive execution on your annual operating plan and strategic priorities.  This goal-setting framework is different from the tradition KRA/KPI goals in a way that the starting point of OKR is your CEO/Company goals, not Job Descriptions and Roles.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

While in theory, the OKR framework looks good, but many companies fail to implement the OKR successfully. Here I am sharing the 7 steps we believe and have seen are critical for successful implementation:

  1. Be brutally honest about why you want to implement OKR?   Is it only because Google or Intel has implemented it? Or is it because your existing business KPI’s are sitting in silos and/or your annual goal-setting exercise is a checklist activity and doesn’t add any value to company growth and setting accountability at work?
  2. Create a core leadership team for implementation. This team should consist of 3 members  (1) CEO (2) Strategy Head/Corporate Planning Head/COO/Marketing Head (3) HR Head. This team should be the one who has the horizontal understanding of your business and company.  And this is the team who will drive and manage the change of implementing OKR across the company.
  3. Get your CXO’s and managers OKR ready: Getting ready for OKR means imparting the training to managers and business heads about what is OKR, how it’s different from traditional KRA/KPI’s, and how it will help the company achieve required focus, alignment and accelerated execution. The primary focus of this training should be to enable the manager to come up with their own OKR’s . Don’t try to push the OKR’s from the top. You should just be supplying the guiding force and contours under which OKR should be created.
  4.  Set the OKR cycle:  The guiding literature around the internet suggest and promote quarterly OKR’s. Which should be the case if your company is disciplined and ready to put the effort at the start of every quarter to create OKR’s. But to start with, we at qilo recommend the 6-month cycle approach. For the first time, set OKR’s for the next 6 months, observer the adoption, quality of OKR and then reduce the cycle frequency to quaterly.
  5.  Set OKR format and timeliness to share the OKR’s : Even if you involve your company in the entire process, people still will forget to share their OKR’s internally. A good format is simple yet powerful in a way that to forces people to make a write inspirational Objectives and quantifiable Key Results. Pro tip: Setting a quantifiable Key result is the key to successful implementation. Your training should help your managers and employee to put in more quantifiable key results that push people to go beyond what they can achieve at ease.
  6.  Communicate the review frequency up-front: This again depends and directly linked with the  OKR cycle.  If your OKR cycle is quarterly, close the cycle with OKR review and probably in the same review, ask the manager and employee to come up with their next quarter OKR’s.
  7. Answer what’s in for me from an employee perspective:  At employee end, what works is (a) greed- the greed of going to the next level and earning more money (b) to bring meaning to their work. As a company when you implement OKR, it can help you to achieve both.

Implementing OKR by taking it as the guiding principle. And the beautiful thing about OKR is it much more meaningful for company, managers, and employees, help you to bring accountability at work and accelerate execution. But remember, what works for other companies might not work for you. You can and should always customize it based on your requirement.

Read this post to check why OKR implementation fails

Are you Executing Better than your Competitors?

As leaders, we tend to focus very hard on ensuring that we build robust quality metrics for our products and satisfaction metrics for our customers.

We invest heavily in capacity, sales dashboards – try to look at the lead indicators minutely, keep a check and the pulse of the market.

Breaking News – Even your competitors are doing the same!!

Let’s get a reality check no one running a business wants to give an inferior product or service in the market. Capeesh!

Then what makes your competitor grow faster than you?

The Answer is simple they are Executing Better than You.

The best part about my Job at qilo is meeting leaders understanding their success stories and growth barriers.

One theme that has emerged out clearly for successful leaders is needed for Fast Execution.

Going to market quicker, learn from the customer, change the plan and Redeploy.  Which requires hell load of Organization Agility and most importantly all hands on the deck.

Of all the conversations I selected, 5 factors, which the leaders claimed to have succeeded to drive fast execution

  1. Leadership Sincerity (Hunger) – How sincere and committed leadership team is to achieve the vision
  2. Defined Purpose – A well-defined purpose get’s half the job done and purpose cannot be financial gains (Sorry), hard question to ask what impact we want to bring to our customer?
  3. Show the big picture – If you want people to execute faster, the urgency is built by showcasing the big picture not by pushing deadlines on someone’s throat
  4. Enrollment – Team who execute faster are enrolled for the purpose and they execute creatively
  5. Communication – The most important element to drive fast execution, companies which talk gets talked about.

We see teams being aligned with roles, functions and result areas – for companies who execute faster – they get aligned with a common goal!

Execute Faster and Better or else get ready to be executed by your competitor!