The good news is that the level of leader excitement and ambition regarding strategic priorities is at an all-time high. It is a full 10 percentage points over the period 2015 to 2020.
Trailing well behind however is confidence in the successful delivery of key strategic priorities. On first pass, the data points to shortcomings in execution as the source of the problem with Strategic priorities.
It is clear from the data that there are gaps in project management ‘basics’ such as planning, reporting and stakeholder engagement. We expect to see scores of 75%+ when an area is working well, but scores for many aspects of execution are in the early 60’s.
So, you may be thinking: ‘Ok, so the problem is execution. …that can’t be too hard to fix – can it?’ Well, not so fast! Like so many issues in today’s organizations, it is more complex than at first it might seem.
As one of our partner colleagues says: ‘What seems like the problem is often not the real problem. Or at least, it is not the full problem! This would certainly appear to be the case with respect to the success of strategic priorities.
Review the data from those executive teams tasked with delivering on Strategic Priorities and a more complex picture emerges. It will illuminate a range of barriers to execution that include structure, systems, leadership and culture.
Most important of all the data will reveal deficiencies in the set-up of many project teams. It is amazing, for example, how many don’t have the right people in the right roles doing the right work and working together in the right way.
This is the surprising backdrop against which the shortcomings in terms of strategic project management must be seen. It suggest that challenges in the execution of strategic priorities are a symptom, rather than the root cause of the problem.
The real problem may well be that those executive teams charged with execution are being hampered in their success.
With the focus on what is to be done, little attention has been given to how the executives involved will work effectively together to make it happen. The message for leaders who want to drive their key strategic priorities is: get your team working first, then the project.