Here’s a story we’ve heard over and over again: The sands start shifting below your feet and you need to pivot quickly. Great minds are put to work. A new strategy takes shape and execution ensues. On paper, this sounds like a success, but in practice this story lacks a fairy-tale ending. Why?
Business leaders think of strategy and implementation as neighboring stops on the transformation roadmap, and there’s truth to that. But rushing from one to another? It’s a recipe for trouble. There’s a gap between these two stops, and it needs minding. This all comes down to your company’s operating model or—simply put—the way work gets done. Is it equipped to deliver on the strategy you’ve set and your transformation plans? Survey says…. Probably not. In most cases, you’ll need to zoom out to assess and then get to work on rewiring various aspects of your operating model. It’s a critical step, and too often missed. This is minding the gap.
Minding the gap won’t guarantee a successful implementation, but it puts the odds very much in your favor. Time and again, we’ve seen that it makes all the difference. Here’s why.
Strategy Is Only the Beginning
Disruption is the only constant in business and sometimes it creates an untamable urgency around change. Customer needs shift dramatically, new regulations abound, employee retention takes a nosedive, whatever the impetus may be, there’s often an element of haste around implementation.
But companies aren’t meant to shed their skin quickly; change is a delicate and layered process that often starts at the top with a new strategy and permeates down through every person, every process, every layer of the business.
How will we turn dozens of dials in the right direction at the right time? How do we orchestrate this symphony? For the answer, look no further than your operating model.
Look Before Leaping
The hard truth: Successfully implementing corporate strategy, and the transformation that results, hinges on a well-tuned operating model. You can do things the easy way or you can do things the right way. The easy way equates to short-lived victories; the right way translates into sustainable success. The main difference between the two? A brief pause to answer the question: “Is my operating model equipped to deliver on the strategy I’ve set and our transformation plans?”
Without a strong, dynamic operating model to provide structural integrity, business strategy becomes a house of cards—sturdy from the outside, ready to collapse at any point from the inside.
Focusing on implementation means moving strategy from “on paper” to “living and breathing” in the way the company does business. You wouldn’t leap off a cliffside before looking to see how far you’d fall, so why would you do this when implementing strategy?
When you look before leaping, you’ll elevate your operating model so it’s level with your new direction. When you do decide to jump, you land comfortably in a safety net of colleagues who know what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how they’re expected to get it done.
Defining the Way People Work Together
We believe that sustained improvements in business and operational performance have everything to do not with a new piece of technology or the acquisition of an adjacent business, but rather in fundamentally changing the way people work together.
And although the industry and business strategy differ by client, our operating model transformation methodology remains the same. We start with embedding ourselves in your current operating model to assess what puzzle pieces will no longer fit with the new strategy. We flesh out the priorities, lay the roadmap, and establish criteria for success.
To bring the operating model transformation process closer to earth, we break it down into key focus areas—tackling things like organizational structure, culture, governance and leadership engagement. Each focus area is composed of specific components that act as mini levers in driving successful implementation and demystifying the “how.”
Unanswered “hows” almost always end in friction miscategorized as “people problems” and a flatlined strategy. Save yourself and your team the headache and take a second to breathe before beelining it to your new strategic destination. What is it Ralph Waldo Emerson said that one time about life being a journey, not a destination? If the destination is a successful strategy implementation, let your journey start with your operating model and all the many ways work gets done.