In a world where the digitalisation imperative, rapid technological advancements, and market disruptions are becoming the norm, organisations globally are grappling with the critical necessity to adapt, evolve, or face obsolescence. A recent global study titled “Bridging the gap: turning strategy into reality,” conducted by Economist Impact, the research arm of The Economist, and commissioned by Planview, a global leader in Portfolio and Value Stream Management, sheds light on the prevalent disconnects in strategy implementation, which are leading to failures in pivotal digital initiatives.
Razat Gaurav, CEO at Planview, commented, “With economic uncertainties, market disruptions, the rapid advancement of technologies like AI, and the growing digitalisation imperative impacting every industry, the pace of change and complexity of decision-making is growing exponentially. Organizations across the globe are experiencing the realities of ‘adapt, evolve, or die.’” However, a mere 15% of executives express confidence in their company’s ability to adapt to change, highlighting a stark reality that businesses must navigate. Gaurav emphasised the necessity for companies to prioritise initiatives in a capital and capacity-constrained environment, swiftly analyse and adapt their project and product initiatives, and make critical decisions that propel pivotal outcomes. The crux lies in seamlessly connecting company strategy with the execution of work across the business.
The study, which is grounded in a global survey involving 600 executives across seven countries and six industries, reveals not only the inefficiencies and waste in digitalisation but also brings to light several key findings that underscore the urgency with which organisations need to address these issues. A mere 14% of executives expressed confidence in their company’s decision-making governance, and 84% acknowledged the need to enhance data-driven decision-making. Furthermore, one-third reported challenges related to process, metrics, and data as critical obstacles in evaluating the progress of initiatives tied to business strategy.
Addressing Disconnects in Strategy Implementation
The Economist Impact research not only outlines the challenges but also provides an interconnected and interdependent framework aimed at driving change to address these disconnects. This framework, which serves as a blueprint for bridging the strategy-implementation gap, pivots on five recommendations: alignment, accountability, resourcing, agility, and culture.
Rhonda Hiatt, a corporate strategy consultant, highlighted the importance of clarity at the top echelons of an organisation. “When there is total clarity at the top around strategy, it becomes possible to ensure that it cascades effectively throughout the organisation, up, down, and sideways,” she stated. This clarity and strategic direction enable executives to ensure that every member of the organisation is aligned and moving cohesively in the same direction.
However, the research findings indicate that most respondents believe their organisation needs to enhance accountability in strategy implementation (86%) and improve goal-setting and performance-monitoring systems (84%). Moreover, only 20% of executives are confident in the resources allocated for implementation, indicating a significant gap that organisations must bridge to ensure the successful translation of strategy into actionable and effective implementation.
Navigating the Future of Work Amidst Digital Transformation
In the context of the future of work, these findings and recommendations are particularly salient. The ability of organisations to adeptly navigate digital transformation, aligning their strategies with on-the-ground implementation, will be pivotal in determining their sustainability and success in an increasingly digitalised and rapidly evolving work landscape.
The insights from the Economist Impact research underscore the imperative for organisations to not merely invest in digital transformation but to do so with a keen eye on ensuring that strategies are effectively translated into reality. This necessitates a holistic approach that encompasses alignment, accountability, resourcing, agility, and culture, ensuring that organisations are not only poised to navigate the complexities and challenges of the digital future but are also equipped to leverage the opportunities that this future presents.
In a landscape where the future of work is inextricably intertwined with digital transformation and the ability to adeptly navigate change, the findings and recommendations from this research provide a timely and critical roadmap for organisations globally.
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