Leadership Development Business Simulations: The New Tool For Accelerating Strategy Execution
In full transparency, I run a company that specializes in improving strategy execution by creating business simulations that are used within corporate leadership development programs. With that out of the way, according to this article, the execution phase can power a strong idea riding on a ground-breaking product or service.
In fact, the input introduced by a perfect execution is so powerful that its absence could ultimately denature an intricately composed business strategy. Harvard Business School reiterates that strategy execution dwells on the implementation phase of most corporate goals, though only a paltry 10% are able to succeed at it. The remaining 90% often languish between uncertainty and failure due to avoidable mistakes.
Accelerating strategy execution.
You want your corporation to not only execute strategies but also accelerate them. Accelerating strategy execution gives the entire strategic process the speed and vigor it requires to burst through precedented and unprecedented challenges and gives your corporation a better shot at achieving successful strategy execution and implementation process.
Strategy acceleration is not a matter of instructing the workforce to get things done on a shorter deadline, but rather a holistic corporate masterstroke, which requires tweaking of the leaders and employees to be in their highest productivity states.
Thus, an accelerated strategy takes the equipping and retooling of the entire workforce, introducing in-demand skills, phenomenal corporate training, utilization of business simulations within leadership development. If a corporation ticks all the boxes, it stands a chance to book a slot in the coveted 10% of successful strategy implementations, executions and accelerations in the corporate arena.
The result of this achievement is the joy of operating in a new corporate strategy, customized to navigate the corporation past, present and future challenges resulting in increased productivity, a contented workforce and improved quality of the products and services. Once the efficiency and quality issues are resolved, happy and satisfied customers refer their friends to your business, translating your corporation into a profit minting hub.
What are business simulations?
Corporate trainers have evolved from paper-clutching lecturers to skills disseminators utilizing business simulations, simulation games and, in some cases, augmented reality. In this Forbes council post, business simulation is defined as creating highly informative and engaging business training scenarios, which equip trainees with hands-on, highly applicable leadership development skills. The skills are disseminated through in-person facilitation and simulations, which present the trainees with a controlled, risk-free business setting to carry out duties, make critical decisions and get feedback.
Leadership development business simulations are high-engagement training where the trainees get their business models powered by simulation software. These models allow the trainees to test drive the new leadership skills they just learned, make critical decisions and significant business moves, and get results on whether their decisions were superb or need polishing. The realistic training environment gives trainees the confidence boost they need, and if the decisions they make do not resonate with the projected outcomes, they have a chance to modify their strategic moves and achieve the desired outcomes.
Corporate trainers have thus evolved from archaic and unsure training methods to modern and accurate strategic accelerants, which give trainees a glimpse of what corporate leadership feels and tastes like, the implication of wrong strategic decisions and what can be done to salvage wrong business moves. At the end of the corporate training, learners are equipped with a wealth of expertise, which helps increase the chances of change success and accelerate the corporate strategy forward.
How are business simulations used within leadership development?
Strategy execution and acceleration heavily rely on how equipped the leadership team is. Business simulations fuel leadership development to bring out a team of highly skilled leaders who can efficiently steer the corporate strategy through execution and successful acceleration. The primary benefit of using business simulations with leadership development to accelerate strategy execution is the holistic growth it delivers to the corporation.
If the leaders undergo the business simulations-laced leadership development training, it has the potential to shake them from their cocoons, show them the importance of corporate training and sharpen their decision-making skills regarding matters strategy, execution and acceleration.
Highly skilled leaders value training and will undoubtedly secure corporate training for their employees. The corporation thus has a skilled workforce with zero skills gaps and a standby leadership bench. This preparedness helps the corporation brace for any eventualities and gives it high survivability if a storm hits the marketplace.
Utilizing business simulations within leadership development is a holistic way of preparing the leadership team, the employees and the entire corporation for strategy execution and acceleration.
Eight Situations Where A Fractional CMO May Benefit Your Business
A solid communication program should be a top priority for every organization. Aligning your teams around your core values and executing meaningful interactions with your prospects and clients is critical in today’s rapidly evolving environment.
For organizations that are growing, require communications expertise but lack the budget for a full-time executive-level hire, or simply need a deeper bench, a fractional chief marketing officer (CMO) can be a catalyst for an actionable communications strategy and profitable strategy execution. This unique role can also be an asset to organizations that are gearing up for a major transition or facing revenue loss.
What Makes A Fractional Marketing Pro Different?
A fractional CMO is a senior-level marketing executive brought on board part time or as a contractor, saving organizations the cost of a full-time hire. I’ve worked with many clients as a fractional CMO, and this role can range from a short-term contract to tackle a specific issue to ongoing work as a member of the team who implements and executes marketing functions.
Consultants are typically hired to deliver strategy without execution. Marketing agencies tend to deliver tactical work without strategy transfer. A fractional CMO, however, is a player on your team. They are involved in the strategy and ongoing goals of the whole organization and work in sync with the executive team to meet those goals through marketing and sales engagement. In fact, a good fractional CMO should require a seat at the table — it’s the only way to maximize the effectiveness of their work.
Here are eight situations when a fractional CMO might make sense for your organization, and how you can get the most out of this working relationship.
1. You’re the founder, executive director, principal and/or CEO, yet you are doing the marketing.
By focusing on the things you should be, like the overall strategy and future vision, company culture and profitability, you’ll likely be able to bring more value to the table. To smoothly transition the marketing work from your plate to a fractional CMO, look for someone who has experience in the same or complementary industry as your organization. This fractional CMO should be able to guide you through the transition phase as well, so when interviewing, ask about their process and how they’ve addressed this transition with other clients.
2. You have an awesome, eager, hardworking junior-level marketing team that needs some direction.
A fractional CMO can work with your team to enhance their skills and help drive efficient and effective organizational communications to the next level. Especially in this scenario, it’s important to hire a fractional CMO who fits in with your team and your company culture. Clear communication with your team about why you are bringing on a fractional CMO and how it will benefit their success is critical.
3. You need a fresh take or perspective.
When you’re in the ship looking at the wave in front of you, it’s hard to consider the vastness of the ocean. A fractional CMO can be a helpful adviser to help your leadership team think in new directions, break out of their comfort zone or gain a new vision. Be sure to provide your fractional CMO with enough context so they can offer an educated opinion. This includes providing data and other assets to help them understand your goals and objectives. On the flip side, a creative fractional CMO should ask the right questions to help frame forward-thinking discussions.
4. You’re doing both sales and marketing.
As organizations grow, there is typically a need for a deeper focus on both revenue-generating positions. And unfortunately, when one person is stretched between both, one of the functions is likely to suffer. While it’s imperative sales and marketing are aligned, they are two very different needs for an organization and should be addressed as such. When a full-time hire isn’t an option, a fractional CMO can take the burden off the person responsible for sales and marketing, allowing them to focus on only sales, knowing that they have a team player dedicated to marketing support.
5. You need to align your teams.
A fractional CMO can be an effective mediator when sales and marketing (and sometimes engineering, production or IT) aren’t playing well in the same sandbox. The fractional CMO’s role, in this case, should be to work with the different stakeholders to smooth processes, procedures and communications, resulting in more cohesive and productive teams.
6. You’re ready to expand your reach.
Even if you’re doing a great job of reaching your current clients, developing your demand generation efforts and connecting with new target markets can help you expand your reach. You likely have prospects right on the fringe who, with the right strategy, would convert to customers. This is where you can leverage the expertise of a fractional CMO to make a big impact.
7. You’re transitioning your business.
If you are looking to sell or bring on new investors or partnerships, a marketer can help position your organization so you can gain the most value from your investment opportunity. Bottom line, you want to look your best, quickly. Look for a fractional CMO who can create efficiency through processes and procedures and adaptable marketing strategies. They should also be able to develop a solid marketing plan to help win investors and partnerships.
8. You’re losing revenue.
If you’re losing revenue, something may be wrong with your sales and marketing strategies. A fractional CMO can help you identify the problems, create more efficiency and set you on a course for success. The fractional CMO you hire should be aware of the circumstances in order to focus their energy on creating more efficient and targeted marketing practices to help grow or reach new prospects without breaking the budget.
When your needs and goals are clearly identified, a fractional CMO can be a great resource to help you make a big impact on your marketing and communication program with less investment.
Source: Forbes, 2021
The 5 Pillars of Strategy Execution
Corporate strategists must ensure effective and aligned execution.
A recent Gartner poll of strategy leaders revealed slow strategy execution as the top challenge for 2019; 70% said they had little confidence in their ability to solve the problem. The Gartner 2019 Strategy Execution Benchmarking Survey finds that 83% of strategists believe execution is more important now than it was three years ago.
“When we asked a group of strategy leaders why execution is a challenge today, they attribute it to three things: Insufficient visibility and control, a ‘firefighting’ mentality that focuses on putting out fires and employee change fatigue,” says Marc Kelly, VP and Team Manager, Gartner.
“80% of strategists, according to Gartner research, say they don’t have the tools and skills to carry out growth initiatives”.
These challenges are exacerbated by more complex, firmwide initiatives, more distributed decision making and a more uncertain environment. Corporate strategists can bridge the strategy-to-execution gap and drive aligned execution in five ways.
History is littered with examples of organizations that hit severe growth stalls because of strategies based on flawed assumptions about customers, competitors or internal capabilities. A lack of clarity leads to unwanted surprises during execution and reduces managers’ ability to monitor uncertainties and respond accordingly.
To get execution right, clarify and test relevant assumptions. This includes using mechanisms to both identify and challenge strategic assumptions so your organization can avoid unanticipated issues that derail implementation.
Large organizations typically conduct strategic planning sessions that cost millions of dollars and hundreds of employee hours each year. Despite these efforts, strategic goals are often unclear or misaligned, which then creates resourcing challenges that limit execution success.
Focus the planning process on vertical alignment between the corporate center and the business units (BUs), and horizontal alignment across BUs and functions. To avoid confusion, begin by clarifying objectives and roles for those in the business tasked with execution.
Markets can shift between a firm’s strategic planning cycles, thus invalidating assumptions and the strategic plan. Without an effective system to monitor the performance of the strategy, organizations may execute the wrong plan for months — or even years — before correction.
For timely course-correction, use performance management systems to hold employees accountable for key metric goals. Frequent reviews of the plan can determine if underperformance was the result of a bad market assessment, wrong strategy or poor execution.
To effectively implement a new strategy, employees must understand and support it — both before and during execution. Yet Gartner research finds that more than 65% of employees lack an understanding of their roles when new initiatives are launched.
What’s needed is a cohesive communication strategy. Without it, employee motivation goes down and resistance goes up, increasing the cost of execution.
Engage critical employees with targeted communications to win support for the strategy. Start a two-way dialogue or take a page from your organization’s PR playbook to keep employees on board and actively engaged in achieving the company’s objectives.
Many organizations fail to allocate resources (assets, time, people, etc.) for the actual implementation of new growth strategies. They rely too heavily on strategy creation, planning, performance metrics and communication. This is not surprising, as 80% of strategists, according to Gartner research, say they don’t have the tools and skills to carry out growth initiatives.
Strategists must locate areas where the organization loses the ability to execute due to poor coordination. The net result of poor coordination is a reduction in the total capacity of the enterprise. In the current environment, capacity lost due to poor coordination is becoming a bigger issue.
Despite most middle managers agreeing that their work is highly impacted by cross-silo business partners, Gartner research finds that fewer than half factor this into their decision making. Through increased cross-organizational dialogue and careful mapping of interdependencies, capacity conflicts can be identified before they occur. Also, consider whether strategic projects are a net gain or net loss to total capacity. Those that free up capacity should be evaluated differently than those that take organizational capacity away.
Source: Gartner, 2019