Putting focus on “the soft stuff” in strategy implementation

Challenge

Finnish finance sector company had revisited their strategy and decided to take the company in a new direction. The change was so comprehensive, ranging from cultural changes to altering core processes, that they realized the initiative demanded an extra focus on people.

Brave the Future

Company top management had a strong vision of the target state. August was brought in to help in concretizing this vision into practical objectives and choices. August helped the management team to create a to-the-point description of the strategy that was presented in a company-wide online meeting.

To make sure they could inspire management to make the necessary changes, the management team asked August to find out more about their employees’ motivations. To shed light into this August conducted ~20 deep interviews of top and middle managers. We identified several psychological dynamics that had undermined performance in the past and threatened to impair the new strategy from the start. Fortunately, we also identified latent strengths and sources of meaningfulness that could be leveraged in the new strategy.

Building on these insights, we refined the strategy communication to better align with managers’ goals and developed a steering model for stronger execution.

Impact

Strategy communication was effective because it took into consideration the concerns that were bubbling under in the organization.

Despite the challenge, the implementation of the strategic plan was continued, building on the strengths and avoiding the potential pitfalls identified. In addition to the “classic deliverables”, e.g. clarified strategic direction, must-win battles and implementation steering model, special focus was given to change management, a concern that we had become aware of in the course of our deep interviews. For example, tensions between old and newly established organizational units were given special attention.