3 Ways to Measure the Value of Your Strategic Efforts
by Sharlyn Lauby August 05 2016
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Organizations create strategies to help them achieve their goals. However, once a strategy is created it’s imperative that the organization measure the value of the strategy, in addition to measuring the results.
On some level, measuring the strategy can be simple. Did you achieve it? Or did you accomplish it on time? Was it achieved within budget? Measuring the value of the strategy includes measuring the process that created the strategy.
Creating strategy and being strategic are different
Creating a strategy is defined as having a plan to achieve a result. So it can be thought of as a process. It’s different from the act of being strategic, which is about critical thinking. Strategic thinking is a competency that needs to be developed. That being said, strategic thinking and strategy are related.
It is possible for organizations to use strategic thinking to create a strategy. Here’s an example: An organization uses the data and analytics from their annual employee opinion survey to create an employee engagement strategy. The organization is being strategic to create strategy. After the strategy is created, the organization might use strategic thinking to develop an implementation strategy.
Value is added to the strategy when the organization is strategic in their approach. For instance, it could be considered very strategic to include systems thinking in the implementation of a strategy. Dr. Peter Senge discussed the need for systems thinking in an interview on HR Bartender. “In a sense, life is always teaching us to be a systems thinker. A family is a system. A team in any organization context is a system. The larger organization itself, as well as the industry in which it exists is a system. So, we are always surrounded by systems. Therefore, our opportunity to be lifelong learners of systems thinking is unlimited.”
3 Ways to measure the value of strategic thinking
So if the way to add value to any strategy is by being strategic, how do we measure the value of strategic thinking? Here are three ways to look at your efforts:
Planning: One quality in strategic thinking is the ability to see the complete picture. Some of us refer to this as “big picture thinking.” Individuals and organizations that can do this successfully can create a positive impact on resource allocation. Meaning, the company doesn’t over (or under) fund the strategy.
An example would be the strategy that keeps going over budget because “We didn’t account for that happening.” or “We overestimated what we would need.” It’s true that surprises do happen. But in some cases, surprises happen often and repeatedly. This could signal the need for strategic thinking.
Focus: Where planning is about resource allocation, focus is about people allocation. Strategic thinking allows stakeholders to give the strategy the correct amount of focus. In this case, focus means time.
An essential component to any strategy is the time spent on development, implementation, and evaluation. The amount of time spent on these elements has an impact on the success of the strategy. For instance, it could make sense to spend extra time on strategy development, so the organization spends less time during implementation.
Evaluation: Strategic thinking opens the organization up to new ideas. It can also have a positive impact on decision making. Evaluation is valuable when action is taken as a result. Even when it’s decided that no action will be taken – that’s an action.
Based on feedback and data, the organization is able to make adjustments to the strategy. They know how to react properly. An example would be making changes to the organization’s employee engagement strategy after a mid-year survey indicates that priorities can be shifted.
If an organization is smart about their planning, focus, and evaluation, they will accomplish their strategy using the least amount of resources. Stakeholders at every level will be focused on the tasks that have the greatest impact and value. And they will be able to handle any challenges with minimal disruption.
The value of the strategy matters. The greater the strategy value; the better the results.
Sharlyn Lauby is the HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc., a South Florida based training and human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies retain and engage talent.
Sharlyn sees human resources as a strategic partner - the marketing department for a company’s internal clients rather as administrative. During her 20+ years in the profession, she has earned a reputation for bringing business solutions to reality.
Prior to starting ITM Group, Sharlyn was vice president of human resources for Right Management Consultants, one of the world’s largest organizational consulting firms. She has designed and implemented highly successful programs for employee retention, internal and external customer satisfaction, and leadership development. Publications such as Reuters, The New York Times, ABC News, TODAY, Readers Digest, Men’s Health and The Wall Street Journal have sought out her expertise on topics related to human resources and workplace issues.