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The Secret to Successful Strategy Implementation

Brent Grover, President — Evergreen Consulting

• competitive strategy • distribution management best practices • management strategies • Wholesale Distribution Industry

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How do you translate strategy into action and put change into effect? In this interview, Randy MacLean and Brent Grover discuss the secrets to successfully implementing a new strategy within an organization.

"Many companies will recognize the need for a new strategy, but they don't know where to start," Brent said. "The planning strategy can be painful for distributors, who may keep putting things off instead of addressing them."

There's a natural tendency to procrastinate. Most business leaders have a lot on their plate at any given moment and that new strategy will often seem like a low priority. However, there's an easy way to avoid this inertia.

"It's important to bring in a facilitator to manage this process," Brent explained. "Because so often these initiatives get shoved to the side by day-to-day activities, it helps if your facilitator comes from outside of your organization. This ensures that their only job is managing the process."

"This facilitator could be an experienced consultant – like myself – or it could be a friend who runs a business, somebody who really knows your specific industry, or maybe even a college professor," Brent said. "Because they're an outsider, they can focus solely on this one thing, and they're more able to hold the CEO accountable. They're able to openly and honestly discuss what has or hasn't been done so far."

"There are a few reasons why the CEO shouldn't handle the process," Brent added. "CEOs tend to be busy. However, they also add a lot of bias to the system. When a CEO talks, the room tends to side with their opinion which stifles creative thinking. Instead, I suggest appointing a small group of around seven people who can own the process and communicate among themselves to keep track of what's being done. If the CEO is a part of this group, it helps if they always speak last in discussions so their thoughts don't unduly influence the rest of the room."

The most important take-away is the idea of accountability. Having a group in charge ensures that each group member is making sure that the others are sticking to making their changes. By contrast, using an outsider ensures that you have somebody managing the process who can't get distracted and is more able to hold people accountable.

Finally, you need to get everybody to trust and be willing to buy into the process. This comes down to more than just having them follow orders.

"There are three things which are absolutely necessary to execute strategy and get your employees on-board," Brent said. "First, you need to have a compelling goal. It must be something that makes sense not just to the owner, but also to the employees. Second, make sure that each employee clearly understands their goal and that you have something motivating them. This motivator doesn't necessarily have to be money. Third, you want to build a strong trust through two-way communication between the leaders and followers. The followers need enough information to get their jobs done and also to give them the ability to ask questions."

Part of the process comes down to communication and feedback. Your employees need to know what they're doing right and wrong. It's important to mix praise and criticisms, as seeming too critical can alienate employees while praise can help reinforce new habits and routines.

For more information about Brent Grover, visit: www.evergreenconsultingllc.com

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