How to take a digital approach

to strategic execution

  • Blue,And,Red,Image,Of,Bulb,Explosion,Background

Published on: March 2019

Written by: Dave Ackley

Whether pivoting to an entirely new strategy or changing internal processes and methodologies, creating an environment where new strategies can be easily executed within a company can seem like a Herculean task.

Two critical components of any successful strategic execution framework are mindset alignment and employees’ capability throughout a company. It’s not enough as CEO to simply have a strategy — that strategy has to translate into action and results. I’ve seen businesses with smart strategies stumble in communicating to employees the what, why, and how of a new strategy, which made executing it harder than need be.

Luckily, a variety of digital tools can now help companies scale capability-building and align employee mindset much more quickly and effectively than was once possible.

Notebook, pen and laptop

Digital is key to better strategy execution

According to an MIT Sloan Management Review survey, 80 percent of people at companies considered to be digitally maturing said their organizations were becoming more agile, collaborative, and willing to take risks. On the other hand, just 23 percent of companies starting out on their digital development were doing the same.

It’s not hard to understand why. Digital enables easier deployment of a strategic execution playbook throughout a company, regardless of where or when people work.

Imagine a leading professional services firm with 4,000 partners who all need to be engaged in the firm’s digital disruption strategy. By digitally enabling its partner meeting, the firm can bring the strategy to life for leaders by providing a vital opportunity to practice it through business simulations in the context of their clients’ businesses.

The use of innovative digital technologies can also retain leaders. When managers can develop their skills in a digital environment, they’re likelier to stay with a company. Thirty percent of leaders who don’t have access to these tools plan on finding new jobs, according to the MIT survey.

Where to start when applying digital to strategy execution

Incorporating digital into a strategic execution game plan might sound daunting, but it’s fairly straightforward if you know where to begin. Here are some steps I’ve found useful:

Start with the basics. Begin with the essentials and expand from there, experimenting and learning as you go. Learn about the new tools available to link learning, strategy execution, and results. Task your learning and IT leaders with investigating tools like learning-record stores and people analytics platforms.

Explore ways to make your next top leadership off-site and cascade truly digital. Innovative digital platforms can help you can engage leaders in future-proofing your strategy, rapidly aggregating and prioritizing inputs to develop a game plan. After the event, digital tools can enable off-site meeting participants to lead their teams through a similar experience in the flow of work without the need to schedule formal classroom workshops or rely on presentations shared via email.

Use a digital business simulation to align and enable your entire organization as quickly as possible. Digital business simulations not only give your whole company the opportunity to experience what great strategy execution looks like, but they also provide valuable data on how people make decisions and trade-offs in executing strategy. Through these simulations, members of your management team can diagnose execution readiness and alignment, mindset, and capability gaps.

Digital can help CEOs rapidly align people, shift employees’ mindsets, and build their capabilities at scale. It now allows us to more quickly and more effectively reach more people. By adopting a digital approach when creating a strategy execution plan, CEOs can ensure their companies are more agile and their employees are active participants from the start.