Strategies Get Implemented by People

Formulating a new strategy can be hard work, but it’s not nearly as difficult as implementing a strategy.  That’s because implementing the strategy requires mobilizing hundreds or even thousands of employees and leading changes necessary to make the strategy successful.  It’s little wonder that upwards of 90% of strategies fail to achieve their stated objectives.    Too often management teams leave strategic planning assuming that the strategy will implement itself, but that approach hardly ever survives past one month.  Here’s a common scenario:  In the weeks following strategic planning a binder appears on each executive’s desk containing the plan.  In a week or two, the binder moves from the desk to the credenza.  And in a few more weeks, the binder disappears into a file drawer where it remains out of sight and forgotten for the remainder of the year.  I’ve seen it happen, and in more than just a few companies.

Strategies get implemented by people. And just as employee motivation is more about commitment than control, employee satisfaction is more about being stimulated, challenged and achieving something they find meaningful.  You must be able to say why this is the most exciting time in the history of your company.

There’s an enormous difference between satisfaction with the workplace and satisfaction with the work.  Like putting lipstick on a pig, throwing pizza parties, t-shirts, free parking, and a workout facility.  amenities at employees can make work more tolerable, but what really turns employees on—especially the employees you value the most—is a compelling purpose that challenges and energizes them and provides meaningful opportunities.  Very few organizations get this right and as a result they have a huge population of people who perform at less than their potential.

In short, if you want to engage your people, amenities are nice, but purpose and opportunity start their engines.   When Steve Jobs was luring John Sculley from Pepsi to run Apple, he asked Sculley whether he wanted to make sugar water the rest of your life.

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