How strong is the linkage between your activities and the business’ strategy?
Only one-third of learning professionals responding to our survey on strategy and implementation said the linkage is strong. That means people aren’t always working on the right things. This happens for a number of reasons, but there are several ways to address the issue. Here are five best practices you can use for executing strategy:
1. Align with the business and enlist catalysts to drive change.
Nick Howe, vice president of Hitachi Data Systems Academy, said his organization has found that there are two key actions to overcome barriers in implementing strategy. “The first is alignment up and down the organization. Overcommunicate to make sure everyone understands what you are trying to do and, more importantly, why you are going to do it.
“Secondly, use catalysts to drive change — find or seed the organization with key individuals who are committed to drive the change. We’ve found most people want to or at least are happy to change. They just need the right environment.”
2. Communicate a bold strategy and ensure significant “wins.”
Nancy Lewis, vice president and chief learning officer at ITT, noted that three key levers have an enormous impact in successfully implementing a strategy. “The trick is to orchestrate them concurrently. Make sure that your strategy is bold — the bolder the better. It needs to transport people to an entirely different place. Take care to ensure all stakeholders are very clear and committed to why the strategy will bring real value to them personally, and ensure there are significant, observable and recognized ‘wins’ along the way.”
3. Develop governance to drive alignment of learning with the business.
Learning governance is a key driver in the success of Ingersoll Rand University (IRU). “Our philosophy at IRU is that learning is a business process, not a training process. That is a critical distinction for us,” said Rita Smith, vice president of enterprise learning.
IRU has a Strategy Board made up of senior business executives, including the CEO, who meet regularly to ensure the learning philosophy is carried out. “At the end of the day this is where it all ‘rolls up’ in regards to our overall philosophy,” Smith said.
4. Engage project management and tools for collaboration.
To ensure targets, timelines and budgets are met, Bell Canada uses project management and a core governance model to keep key representatives up-to-date and on track. “Our teams span the country and may include small groups of two to five people, or may scale up to 100-plus employees. For effective remote collaboration, we include multiple tools for managing key projects,” said Leslie Jefford, associate director of enterprise learning.
5. Build a strong, trusting team.
Mary Beth Schroeder at Affinion Group said team members’ attitudes have the potential to impact the effectiveness of the team’s decisions and actions. “When a decision must be made on a controversial topic, when the engagement of all team members is essential for the successful implementation of a project or when the team itself is newly forming or undergoing a significant change, it is important for team members to appropriately communicate and trust their fellow teammates. Trust becomes the lubricant that enables future business transactions to go smoothly and team camaraderie and cooperation to flourish.”
Bonus item: Leverage resources.
Harley-Davidson University (HDU) leverages resources in order to have the greatest impact on implementing strategy. The staff of 35 employees at HDU continually streamlines processes for developing and delivering content. With the help of project management methodologies, they have developed and currently manage 343 online courses delivered in several languages. They also offer more than 470 instructor-led courses. The team further leverages resources by working on innovative approaches for delivering just-in-time training based on ever-changing demands.
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