The beginning of the year is the perfect time to reevaluate and update your strategic imperatives. We look at ten helpful process tools to consider when establishing your strategic imperatives for 2022.
As your company leaps into the new year, you are likely laying out and beginning to implement strategic imperatives for the upcoming year. Your big picture goals can light a fire under your team, but if you haven’t outlined a thorough internal process on how you’ll accomplish those goals, that fire will peter out.
Setting a process for strategic imperative execution ties your business objectives to a short- and long-term plan. Leaders can use these tools to articulate a sharp vision, build confidence for how they’ll turn words and ideas into action and results, and improve accountability. Now, leadership can focus on delivering value for its customer and employee base.
Why Effective Planning Includes Strategic Imperative Alignment
One of the common gaps seen with portfolio strategy is a significant lack of alignment from projects to programs to portfolios across the enterprise, whether within individual departments or the organization itself. This means your business is running in different, and sometimes competing or conflicting, directions.
As your company reviews its budget actuals or compares objective key results (OKRs) and key performance indicators (KPIs), there is an opportunity to examine your strategic imperatives and ensure they align with your business objectives. For example, you may find your technology enterprise pushing for a significant investment in innovative automation, but their timeline to go live is much longer than a finance project that will reduce days outstanding for billing. Both bring value to the business, but the current budget allows only one program to move forward. It’s time to make a choice, and your strategic imperatives will be your guide.
How to Increase Strategic Imperative Alignment
Strategic imperatives are clearly defined outcomes to achieve business growth. It may sound simple, but faulty internal alignment can quickly place roadblocks within your enterprise. Clearly articulating your company’s strategic imperatives and execution approach is the first step to enable your teams to synchronize their approach, devise and measure OKRs and KPIs, and drive towards successful outcomes.
To help you define and implement your strategic imperatives, we’ve provided 10 process tips and tools.
You can customize which tools you’ll prioritize, but together each spoke on our wheel builds on each other to move towards success.
1. Be Clear
State your company’s imperatives loudly and proudly and place them for all to see. This could mean posting them to your website, your intranet and updating your employees and customers with examples of success. Try tying your imperatives to business cases within your portfolio planning to get everyone on the same page.
2. Share Where You Are Headed
Make your imperatives measurable and implementable within your day-to-day operations. You might outline how your employees’ performance contributes by setting up regular communication cadences on each imperative. By providing tangible evidence, you stay present and informed when making decisions.
3. Sell the Imperative
Demonstrate how your imperatives will grow your business, both to internal teams and customers. You can define your portfolio with business cases that align with your strategic imperatives.
4. Make Realistic Promises
“Under promise and over-deliver” goes for internal processes too. Perform a true resource allocation to balance your strategic imperatives. By identifying your true capabilities, you focus on value rather than only projects.
5. Deliver on Your Promises
Drive your project management office to deliver on the strategic imperatives through dynamic strategy, delivery and active engagement. An engaged execution team helps keep senior leadership and their teams accountable to their goals.
6. Document Your Method of Operation
Produce easy to read and digestible progress reporting. Establishing a transparent reporting process helps align your efforts as you build confidence that you’re all headed to the same place.
7. Understand What the Numbers Mean
Agree on easy-to-understand, repeatable and defensible metrics from the outset, and measure along the way. Set realistic but challenging growth numbers to create accountability from the bottom up.
8. Keep the Cash Flowing
Fund value on a dynamic basis, not only in yearly planning. Try thinking like a venture capitalist and upending your annual funding cycle to dynamic investment instead. You just might deliver more minimal viable products.
9. Bridge Your Gaps
Identify the right resources upfront and hire the right team. Deploying the correct resources right away prevents roadblocks from forming and your team from losing steam. Try investing in people first, then process and technology.
10. Measure Results
Devise OKRs and KPIs all employees can understand and have access to, so they can follow the journey. Tie all project and program success to measurable OKRs and KPIs before approval to ensure tangible results. Publish those results on appropriate channels to celebrate your hard work and identify further opportunities for growth.
No one wants their strategic thinking and planning to get shoved in the top drawer of a desk, only to return to it at the end of the year and find they’ve missed the mark. Creating strategic imperatives and identifying your implementation process can have a real impact and add real value to your organization. Your portfolio and delivery review in 2023 will show the results of your strategic labor.