As the year is drawing to a close, most organizational staff cannot wait for the company's end year retreat for them to relax, unwind and indulge in food and drink like their life depended on it.
End year retreat ideally should be fun filled but should always have a learning undertone, especially learning that improves the organization.
One thing that one thing most organizations struggle with without admitting it is strategy execution gap, a situation where the organization has developed a great strategic document that is supposed to guide it for the next five or so years but remains just that; a document.
An organization that separates strategy and execution as separate and distinct activities is setting itself up for failure. If not checked early enough small execution gaps will lead to organization complete failure especially in today's volatile and competitive world.
To compound the challenge; due to the volatility, complexity of the business environment not to mention disruption and short customer and product lifecycles; that require revision of strategies based on current information meaning execution is critical.
Strategy execution is the only avenue that organizations can get crucial feedback that enables the organization to be agile and adapt to the changing times such as customer shift in preference, introduction of new disruptive products, new entrants, technological shifts among many other. To succeed organizations must shift their paradigm of strategy from a static plan that is taken to the market for execution to a dynamic hypothesis that is taken to market to test its veracity.
In essence strategy must be a continuous activity featuring continuous testing and iterations based on data collected during execution. To test if an organization is using strategy as a learning tool; one has to look at how managers react to news on how the strategy is working. Do they view failure of some of their plans as under performance of their juniors or do they use it as feedback to improve?
Organizations can therefore utilize their end year retreat not just to review how well they have executed their strategy (if they actually did) but as a learning session by ensuring critical feedback about organizations products, customers, suppliers among other critical information flows to decision makers and senior management.
A good tool to guide organizations through strategy execution and learning is having a one year action plan that identifies critical strategic activities, assigns persons responsible, assigns resources and acts as a control tool by ensuring feedback is continuously collected and adjustments made in time.
Organizations must finally not only grapple not only on how to properly execute strategy but learn continuously as well. This will lead to the organization developing learning as a competitive advantage that will differentiate it from completion and is a must for any organization in today's world.
Victor Otieno is Director - Research and Innovation at Wylde International