New year, new strategic plan...As you make the shift into your updated strategic plan for the coming year, clear and effective communication of these strategies is essential for organizational success. Our approach highlights the importance of interactive and inclusive communication, a flexible and adaptable strategic framework, and engaging visual storytelling. This ensures every team member is not just aware of but actively involved in the company’s strategic goals from the outset, ensuring that your strategy is well position for success.
A key challenge for strategists – whether leading a division or an entire organization– is to help the people on the ground relate to the strategy; understanding what they need to do to implement it, and also seeing how their daily tasks contribute to its implementation.
Connect the dots between strategy and day-to-day
Getting this right is crucial since the success of any strategy depends on all employees doing their bit. Yet many companies we work with struggle to connect the dots between thirty-thousand-foot strategy and day-to-day actions.
Bridging this gap by effectively communicating strategy helps employees make decisions and do work that contributes to the success of your strategy.
This is more than an exercise in marketing communications. If employees don’t understand what they must do differently to implement your strategy, chances are it will run into trouble. So, don’t keep them guessing!
Effective strategic implementation is about transforming strategy from a document into a shared mission. Start with a dynamic strategy framework that not only conveys the core tenets of your strategy but also invites and incorporates employee feedback. In addition to providing consistent firm-wide messaging, a visual framework and an accompanying story or “narrative” about your future vision will help employees understand the company’s strategy and connect it to their own tasks.
3 steps to communicating strategy
Your entire management team must be committed to using these tools to communicate a consistent message to the right audiences, at the right time and the right intervals throughout the strategy period.
Here are three key steps to get you on the right track:
1. Gather strategy-related information
During the strategic planning process, keep a record of how you developed your strategy that will be relevant to employees. This might include anecdotes, challenges you struggled with, how you came to conclusions, etc.
Make this backstory relatable by involving employees in these narratives, allowing them to see their role in the larger picture. It enables you to relate the effects of the changes articulated in your strategy on things like employee workflows and behaviours.
By putting yourself in your employees’ shoes you’ll have something they’ll listen to – and do!
2. Create a learning “narrative”
Recognize that while your employees might not have been involved in every step of the strategic planning, their ongoing involvement is crucial for its evolution and success. Engage them in understanding and shaping the strategy as it unfolds.
Structure the different areas of information from broad (market context, organizational goals) to narrow (what it means for employee workflows, behaviours) to build a truly compelling story for employees.
With this foundational understanding of the strategy, employees can draw personal connections to their work and the changes you want to see.
3. Use visual graphics to tell the story
Create a standardized, visual storyboard to communicate the strategy narrative across the organization. When building the storyboard, consider different factors – the content (snappy headlines, supporting information), the type of graphics (easy-to-understand process or relationship diagrams), and the design elements (imagery, icons, colours, your company’s brand elements) – that best tell your strategy story.
The most important piece of advice…
And perhaps the most important piece of advice is, don’t wait!
Start communicating early, even before your strategy is rubber-stamped. Early involvement fosters a sense of ownership and can lead to valuable insights from employees. Encourage ongoing dialogue, making strategy communication a continuous, two-way process.
Embrace flexibility in your strategic framework
As your strategies take shape and are communicated across the organization, it's crucial to remember that in today’s fast paced business environment, adaptability is not just a benefit, but a necessity.
It's crucial to ensure that your strategic framework is not rigidly set in stone but is flexible and responsive to changing market dynamics, emerging technologies, and evolving workforce needs. By keeping strategic plans dynamic and responsive, you empower your teams not only to understand and implement the current strategy but also to be agile and proactive in adapting to new challenges and opportunities.
A dynamic strategy framework encourages continuous improvement and innovation, fostering a culture where feedback from all levels leads to real-time adjustments. By keeping your strategy fluid, you empower your team to be proactive, resilient, and aligned with the ever-changing landscape of your industry.
Adapting your strategy communication to be more interactive and inclusive is key in today’s dynamic business environment. By doing so, you not only ensure that your strategy is understood but also that it is enriched by the diverse perspectives within your organization.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated with new content.