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Bridging the Communication Gap in Strategy Execution

by Ryan Englund on November 29, 2017

Welcome back to ESM's blog series, The Balanced Scorecard Refresh – Lessons from 20+ Years in the Field, taken from the article authored by Mario Bognanno, Ryan Englund, and Randy Russell. Today, we will examine common barriers to BSC implementation and approaches for overcoming them. 

Strategy formulation without a plan for execution is nothing more than an optimistic wish. A strategic plan without the ability to implement the plan makes the wish impossible to achieve. Far too often, organizations do not commit the necessary attention and resources to strategy implementation. Research shows that organizations that do not address two primary barriers to strategy implementation fail to achieve the strategic outcomes they seek. These barriers take the following forms:

  1. The Communication Barrier. The people needed to implement the strategy don’t know the plan; if they don’t know the plan, how can they help? Also important, members of the work force do not know how they can contribute to the strategy in their day-to-day jobs. They may have the best intentions, but they will not be successful because of the different interpretations of what the goals are. Effective communication of strategic goals is critical to achieving success.
  2.  The Resource Barrier. The resource barrier exists when strategy is not supported with strategically relevant financial, managerial, and human resources.  When the strategy is not funded, when people are not assigned strategic priorities, and when managers and supervisors fail to discuss the strategy and its implications, it sends the message that the strategy is not important.  The resource barrier arises whenever strategic action is under or improperly resourced.

Listen to The Updated BSC Approach free webinar today! 

A well-designed strategy combined with the BSC approach for execution can be used to communicate the strategic vision from the leadership team to all of the employees. The conversation and alignment between leadership and employees is challenging, but social media (applied internally for employee collaboration) can help.  Just hear how Infosys did it!

Infosys is a global leader in technology services and consulting with more than 100,000 employees. It holistically incor­porates social media into its strategy execu­tion process. More than five years ago, the organization developed an internal YouTube channel which has allowed the senior leadership team to consistently communicate strategic updates to all employees. The shift in communication style has brought more employees, especially Millennials, into the strategy development and execution fold. The interactive approach has enabled executives to reach out and em­ployees, especially novice employees, to respond and participate.

In one case, Infosys used the social media channel to solicit feedback around strategic objectives. They found that employ­ees related better and participated with more specific answers once the dialogue was structured and moder­ated around such themes as technologies for future growth, asset efficiency, digital consumer, pervasive computing, and healthcare. To keep the momentum flowing, discus­sion moderators individually thanked contributors for their suggestions. As a further enticement for particularly useful suggestions, some employees became members of strategy theme teams. Keeping the spirit of the online collaboration, these theme teams con­tinue to collaborate in sub-communities online.

Source:  Zawel and DiMauro, 2011: Social Media for Strategy-Focused Organizations

Social technology can also be used address customer expectations. Amtrak was an early adaptor of using social media to highlight customer expectations and feedback.  Amtrak’s online efforts targeted three specific strategic objectives:

Objective 1: Deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience that fulfills our brand promise

By communicating with customers about important issues in real-time, Amtrak improved brand perception and increased customer loyalty. 

Objective 2: Grow a loyal, long-term customer base by targeting and acquiring new riders

By enabling travelers to tell the story of their journey, Amtrak satisfied a new travel need and created a bond with new Amtrak riders. 

Objective 3: Maximize revenue

To overcome doubts about social media’s impact on the bottom-line, Amtrak set a target of increasing social referral revenue by 20%.


How does your organization communicate strategy? Are there other platforms you’ve used to be successful? We want to hear from you.

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Topics: Business Strategy Strategy communication

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