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Key Factors for Achieving Strategic Success

May 28, 2015 // Erik Nelson

A senior leader’s success depends on the flawless execution of business strategy. A failure to deliver on strategic initiatives costs organizations millions of dollars and is the primary reason for executive dismissals. In almost all cases, organizations can avoid failure by identifying alignment issues between goals, variables and constraints.

Achieving Alignment Is Complex

Even the most straightforward operational tasks involve managing thousands of potential combinations of variables. Complicating things even further is the fact that in healthcare—as in all service businesses—many of the variables and constraints are unknown and are constantly changing. It’s not surprising that 90% of complex initiatives fail to achieve their goals.

Alignment Requirements

The essential objective of every complex project is to continuously align multiple variables and constraints needed to achieve each goal.

  • Objectives need to align with a plan that incorporates the requisite tasks and resources
  • Structures and processes need to organize resources and tasks in a manner that will achieve the most efficient outcomes
  • Capabilities must be in place to manage unanticipated dependencies.

3 Commonalities That Lead to Success

Those who succeed have the following in common:

Deep knowledge about the relevant variables and constraints. Complex initiatives require organizations to consider and align thousands of variables in a certain way to achieve success, usually with significant timing and resource constraints. If knowledge is not aligned, more time and resources are needed to achieve the desired outcome, which puts the outcome at greater risk.

The ability to quickly identify and evaluate changing variables and constraints. Change is constant. The accountable entity (whether that is an individual, a team, department or company) must be able to rapidly identify alignment issues and adjust plans and operational capabilities accordingly. If it cannot do so, emerging risks go undetected, plans quickly become obsolete, and efforts are misguided.

Effective feedback on the progress made towards achieving the desired goal. Those who achieve goals faster have a competitive advantage. With thousands of variables at play, there are literally millions of possible ways that these variables can intersect to produce the desired outcome. Successful entities are able to identify which combination of variables leads to success faster than their counterparts. This requires efficient feedback loops where progress is constantly monitored and meaningful feedback is provided so that real-time adjustment may be made.

Achieving Alignment

While organizations cannot control all variables in a strategic initiative, they can control the two most important success factors:

  • Who will lead the project
  • Who will be on the project team

The quality of the project leader and the project team is the best predictor of project success. A strong leader and balanced team bring the knowledge, experience, and problem solving skills needed to ensure alignment—and long-term success. Organizations that cannot find the right mix of talent might as well sit on the sidelines and watch their competitors take over.