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Corporate Strategy: From Inaction to Action

How often does the typical employee think about corporate strategy compared to the demands of day-to-day work? For some employees it’s as infrequent as an intermittent town hall meeting. While the necessary pivots many businesses had to manage as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic may have created opportunities for more frequent communication between employees and senior leaders, the demands of each workday can easily outshine the greater corporate strategy. Yet – the ultimate measure of success is whether a corporation achieves its strategic goals.

Many organizations suffer from corporate strategy “inaction”, rather than corporate strategy driving action. How can goals and day to day work be so disconnected?

Corporations require thousands of ongoing day-to-day processes to run—from calling on customers to managing the supply chain to seamlessly running corporate IT systems. Each of those tasks is part of the backbone of the business and has a rhythm and pace of its own. It is easy to lose track of the relationship between that work and the broader corporate strategy.

However, when that connection is made -- when leaders help every employee understand how they contribute—something marvelous happens. Employees get the “why” of their work; they’re more productive, more engaged and generate better outcomes for customers. Think Google and innovation; think Zappos and service; think Starbucks and global market expansion.

At Insight Experience, we call this ability to connect Strategic Translation. And, we believe there are three critical steps leaders can take to make it happen:


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  • Step 1. Understand: Question, digest and internalize the corporate strategy so you can lead others to deliver on it.
  • Step 2. Connect: Breakdown the enormous (and often ambiguous) corporate goal into a sequence of activities that employees can jump in and do. Help functions and teams and individuals take on the right work.
  • Step 3. Align: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Make strategic connection a more than a once-a-year thought.

Professional translators help our words make sense in other languages. Strategy translation is no different. Without it, we are unable to make sense of corporate direction so it can successfully drive action at the front line.

Nick Noyes is co-founder of Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution.