Our last perspective on Business Planning is about how to ensure an effective realisation of the strategic plan. We found that organisations who successfully implemented their strategy focused their efforts on four key elements:
- An effective communication of the strategy to all stakeholders (staff but also trustees, beneficiaries and partners) so that they have belief in the strategic direction and feel energised and committed to its implementation.
- The development of internal change management capabilities to mobilise teams and manage change initiatives across the organisation.
- The implementation of a performance management framework that tracks progress, measures impact and enables the organisation to communicate about it and adjust plans if necessary.
- The establishment of clear milestones with initial quick wins so that staff can see progress being made and celebrate success.
In this article, we focus on two of these elements: communication and performance measurement.
Consistent and clear communication is crucial for any change initiative to get off the ground. We heard from one respondent in our research into change management: “I feel we are spending too much time trying to implement change, but do not communicate effectively about what this means across the organisation. Feedback concerning the change programme is open only to the select few, with little buy-in from the organisation as a whole.”
Change needs to be driven from the top of the organisation, starting with the CEO. Managers in turn also need to explain it to the rest of the organisation and often need to be trained to do so. Engagement can take many different forms – from workshops and interviews to roadshows and internal communications – but it needs to be done in an informative and consultative manner across the organisation. Ultimately, buy-in for a change initiative will come from its stakeholders, including employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries; failure to engage with them will result in a missed opportunity to motivate them and demonstrate that what they are doing matters to the organisation.
Successful communication strategies typically articulate the following five key elements:
- what winning looks like
- which measures to focus on
- which early milestones to target
- what the organisation does and does not do
- how employees will be set for success.
A charity we engaged with used this approach, developing internal communications on their intranet, creating posters and videos, and organising several roadshows with the management team. This resulted in a deep interest in the strategy from employees and volunteers and an atmosphere of trust, excitement and collective responsibility. The organisation was ready and eager to embark into a new journey and make a greater impact in their local community.
The implementation of a robust performance management model ensures that the right things are measured and the right insights are sought. An increasing number of mission-driven organisations are taking a balanced scorecard approach to measuring performance, developing key performance indicators (KPIs) and setting targets in each of the focus areas: stakeholders (or impact), finance, internal processes (or operations) and learning and innovation (or people).
The benefit of using a balanced scorecard is twofold: it provides a clear link between the strategic objectives and the performance targets, as well as clarifying the role of each department in achieving the strategic goals.
Defining the right indicators is not easy. Not only should an organisation have the right number of KPIs (neither few nor too many), but the measures also have to accurately relate to the organisation’s strategy. We have listed below some of the best practices and sources of failure that we have identified.