Don’t Confuse Strategy with Lofty Goals
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Companies must first make the difficult choices that strategy requires and then communicate these choices to employees in an effective way.
Unfortunately, if we go by what companies communicate in their annual reports or by what CEOs say at company conferences, the bulk of the communication is focused on the organization’s goals and aspirations rather than its choices. This mode of communication leaves employees in the dark and limits their emotional connection to their organization. Improving our communication of strategy can lead to major benefits in how employees execute our strategy.
One recent academic study reported that even in high-performing companies with clearly articulated strategies, only 29% of their employees knew what their company’s strategy was.
In another 2019 survey, only 35% of the employees claimed to know their company’s strategy and fewer than 20% said that they understood why they were following the strategy that had been communicated to them.
Most companies communicate strategy as a set of aspirations and platitudes. But aspirations aren’t strategy, and that mode of communication leaves employees in the dark. Strategy is a set of hard-to-reverse choices and explaining what these choices are and why they were made is what strategy communication should be.
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"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. " ~ Derek Bok
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