Why innovation? Mind the gap

The New Year is often the starting point for a new or revised strategy. Words are put into action and we are all eager to see how the intended strategy will become the experienced reality. But too often the promises to employees, customers and shareholders are broken, leaving everyone asking: “Why?”

Top-down management
The strategy is formulated by the few top managers of the company. They work on it for two to four months, starting with the creation of a common understanding of the necessity of doing something different or better and then deciding on how.

In the meantime, employees have been running the business – unaware of the mental and concrete changes at management level. Closing down the company in order to formulate a new strategy is not an option. That is evident.

Misunderstood mission
The whole company gathers for the kick-off. The strategy has been transformed into a new campaign, and employees have been given new titles and areas of responsibility. But the reality for the customers and the shareholders is still the same.

And this is not because the employees are plain stupid. Management has just forgotten to tell them about the journey from understanding the necessity of change and why we need to do things in a different way.

Get them on board – fast
The first meeting about the strategy is crucial. Too often managers forget all about their starting point and just tell the employees about the final strategy.

Leaving all employees with a huge gap between the reality they are in and the reality that is clear to the managers (after two to four months of mental work).  Involving people in the process is the only way to minimise the gap.

So if you are one of the managers formulating a strategy for 2015 with no or very limited stakeholder involvement, try to recap where you were when starting the process. Recap your findings and defining moments. Make them all visual and share them with your employees. This will help you make the strategy a reality – for everyone.