Unleash Business Growth: The SPARK Model for Strategic Execution ConfidenceSep 23, 2023
Are you finding it challenging to propel your business to the next level?
You're not alone.
You've successfully navigated the initial hurdles of entrepreneurship and built a stable, revenue-generating business. However, the growth curve has plateaued, and the next set of ambitious goals seems elusive despite a robust business model.
This scenario is a signal for a renewed focus on strategic execution.
In this article, I introduce the SPARK model, a five-step approach to bolster your confidence in strategic execution, aiming to reignite growth and propel your business towards those ambitious milestones.
Most Business Teams Operate on a Super Wild Assed Guesses...
Before we ignite your growth engine, I want to introduce the 3-Year Highly Achievable Goal or 3HAG.
Unlike the often speculative 5-year plans or Super Wild Assed Guesses (SWAG) most companies aspire to, a 3HAG offers a more tangible, near-term focus. It bridges the gap between your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), Core Values, and Purpose, which might span a decade or more, and your immediate quarterly and annual goals crucial for progress.
The 3HAG serves as a Strategic Execution System that drives confidence in predicting the future growth of your company and making the path to your BHAG more actionable and less abstract.
However, a challenge arises when business owners are solely fixated on the immediate future, often overlooking the importance of a BHAG. This narrow focus can hinder the broader strategic execution required to propel the business forward in the long run. So, if you haven't thought about your company's 10 to 30-year mission or BHAG, I suggest you take that as a first action item.
The secret to effective strategic execution lies in aligning the immediate operational goals with a well-defined 3HAG, which aligns with the overarching BHAG. This alignment creates a coherent strategic roadmap, providing clarity and focus in achieving your long-term vision.
Now. Let's delve into the first step towards building strategic execution confidence - developing a clear and concise strategy.
The SPARK Model
S - Strategic Clarity (Clear and Concise Strategy)
Before diving into execution, it's crucial to ensure you and your leadership team agree on the strategic plan.
A clear and concise strategy serves as your compass for growth, providing direction amidst market noise. Before diving into execution, it's crucial to ensure all decision-makers and the leadership team agree on the strategic plan.
Here's how you can develop and maintain such a strategy:
Define Your Vision: Know where you want to take your business in the long-term. Ensure that this vision is communicated and agreed upon by all key members of the leadership team.
Identify Your Unique Value Proposition: Understand what sets you apart from the competition and ensure that this proposition is well-communicated and understood across the organization.
Commit to Your Strategic Plan: Research in the Harvard Business Review highlights that in companies with weak execution, 71 per cent of employees believe strategic decisions are second-guessed, compared to 45 per cent in companies with strong execution. Committing to a strategic plan before diving into implementation ensures alignment on the same goals among all decision-makers and their teams. This shared understanding fosters a culture of trust and accountability, which is crucial for successful execution.
Keep the Strategy Alive: Strategies aren't stagnant; they evolve with new challenges and opportunities. Regular strategic review is critical to ensure you and your leadership team remain on the same page and adapt your strategy to respond to changing market conditions.
A clear and concise strategy, ideally encapsulated on one page, provides a shared understanding of the larger strategic plan throughout the organization.
By developing a clear and concise strategy, ensuring commitment from the leadership team, and keeping the strategy alive through regular communication, you lay a strong foundation for effective strategic execution, setting the stage for the following steps.
P - Productive Team (A-Player Cohesive Leadership)
A-Players are individuals who are highly competent and share the company's values. They contribute significantly to the achievement of the strategic objectives. Ensuring that your leadership team is cohesive, aligned, and committed to the strategic goals fosters a culture of accountability and excellence, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of your strategic execution.
Here's how to build and nurture a cohesive, normalized A-player leadership team:
Identify and Nurture A-Players: Look for individuals within or outside your organization who exhibit the skills, cultural fit, and strategic alignment necessary for your leadership team. Nurture their growth and alignment with your strategic objectives.
Promote Open Communication: Foster a culture of open communication within the leadership team, encouraging the sharing of ideas, concerns, and feedback. This transparency will help align the team with the strategic plan and proactively address any challenges.
Invest in Leadership Development: Regular training and development programs tailored for your leadership team will ensure they stay updated, engaged, and aligned with the evolving strategic goals.
Align Leadership Goals with Strategic Objectives: Ensure that each leadership team member's goals are aligned with the broader strategic objectives. Regular check-ins and reviews can help maintain this alignment and adapt to any changes in the strategic plan.
Foster Accountability: Create a culture of accountability within the leadership team where each member understands their role in executing the strategy and is held accountable for their contributions.
Building a cohesive, normalized A-Player leadership team and ensuring alignment with the strategic objectives lays a strong foundation for effective strategic execution, significantly enhancing the likelihood of achieving your 3HAG and long-term BHAG.
A - Accountability Scoreboard (Connected Real-time)
A real-time scoreboard visually represents your progress towards strategic goals, ensuring that you and your leadership team are always informed and aligned. Here's how to implement a connected real-time scoreboard:
Choose the Right Metrics: Select metrics that provide clear insight into performance towards your strategic objectives. Ensure these metrics are relevant, measurable, and aligned with your 3HAG and long-term BHAG.
Use Technology: Cloud-based business platforms like Metronomics Growth System and EOS One bring your strategic execution system to life and drive growth using structured strategic planning based on priorities, data, and meeting rhythms.
Promote Transparency: Ensure that the scoreboard is accessible to all team members to foster a culture of transparency and accountability. This shared visibility encourages alignment and proactive engagement in achieving strategic goals.
Regular Review Meetings: Establish a meeting cadence that includes daily huddles, as well as weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual review meetings with your leadership team. These meetings are crucial for discussing the data on the scoreboard, assessing progress, adapting strategies as necessary, and maintaining alignment on the strategic objectives.
Encourage Feedback: Create channels for feedback from your leadership team on the effectiveness and relevance of the metrics on the scoreboard. This feedback loop will help refine the scoreboard over time to ensure it remains a valuable tool for strategic execution.
By implementing a connected real-time scoreboard and engaging your leadership team in monitoring and reviewing progress, you foster a culture of data-driven decision-making, alignment, and accountability, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of your strategic execution.
R - Realized Execution (Aligned and Mapped)
Aligning execution with strategy is pivotal for driving your business towards its mission, which means having clarity on the 'things' you must do to hit your 3HAG. Mapping out the essential capabilities, the 3-5 differentiators that take you from where you are now to your 3HAG will have you sleeping better at night.
This one-page view shows how we open the period between our 3-year goal and one year to create swimlanes. Each swimlane is a critical path toward a differentiator or capability you want in place at the end of the three years. And the diamonds are milestones you must achieve to make your differentiators.
Your 3-5 differentiators or key capabilities aren't reached overnight or even in weeks. They take time and concerted effort. So, you may need to make 5 to 8 moves to get from where you are now to having a differentiator in place. You'll need to work quarter over quarter to get it done.
A strategy can get messy. Spreading it out and making it visual helps bring strategic execution confidence.
K - Key Accountability (Behavioral Team Accountability Platform)
When a winning team steps onto the playing field and plays the game, there's constant interaction: pass me the ball, need a substitution, defenders back, push forward, I'm hurt. Throughout the game, players and spectators are fixated on plays on the field, time on the clock, and the score. Everyone on the team knows what is expected of them and how to behave.
The same applies in the game of business. Your team must understand what is expected of them and the acceptable behaviour – beginning with the CEO and cascading down throughout the organization.
A Behavioral Team Accountability system could be as simple (and kludgy) as Word, Excel, or a software platform like the Metronomics Growth System. The critical thing is that every team member is on the playing field (the system or software platform) daily. This is crucial for ensuring that the behaviors and actions of you and your leadership team are aligned with the strategic objectives.
I coined the SPARK Model to help you keep these 5 Steps front of mind. Start implementing them in your business, and you'll bolster your confidence in strategic execution, reignite growth, and propel your business towards achieving its 3HAG and long-term BHAG.
The journey towards strategic execution confidence requires a committed leadership team, a clear strategic picture, and a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.
Sign up for one of our exclusive Compound Growth workshops for busy CEOS, business owners and leadership Teams. This masterclass on the 5 Steps to Strategic Execution Confidence will guide you and your team in creating and implementing a clear and actionable three-year strategic plan.