Will Your Company Culture Support Strategic Change?

BY Kathy Crosett
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At the start of any new year, CEOs often give inspiring presentations to employees about their visions for updated products and services.  Paul Leinwand and Matthias Bäumler, in an article posted on Harvard Business Review, contend that very few executives follow through with detailed execution plans to make sure their organizations achieve their goals.

Making a significant change to an organization, such as launching a new product, requires significant resources. Most managers are wrapped up in their current day-​to-​day challenges, and it’s easier for them to default to known issues than to tackle a huge unknown. Without focused attention and ongoing follow-​up, either in meetings or through a project management system, new initiatives will struggle to get off the ground. Here are a few ways for leadership team members to address this issue.

Leinwand and Bäumler recommend taking a top-​down approach to ensure success. For example, you might want to hold an off-​site meeting for senior leadership members to discuss how they and their teams will shift resources to support new product development. Senior managers also need to review the current organizational structure and determine whether it will work in the context of undertaking a major new project. Should specific employees change their role in the organization to ensure success? Should resources be taken from an existing project to support the development or testing of the new product or service?

Commitment to strategic changes must take place throughout the organization. Once your leadership team has structured the plan for execution, you can increase chances of success by soliciting input from the rest of the organization. One way to approach team members is through a survey. Ask them how they see themselves  contributing to a proposed change. Then ask them if they want to be involved in a way that differs from their current role. This approach moves your organization’s culture to where it should be – to one of inclusion and participation. Your employees should feel safe and valued when they offer feedback, whether it’s positive or negative.

Including the feedback of managers and employees can help you refine your strategy. These additional perspectives will allow you to articulate how your proposed product or service offers a unique angle. This vetting process will also encourage the development of a coherent launch and operating plan.

The marketplace is an unforgiving environment, so it’s important to logically plan and execute your strategy properly the first time around.