In the work that we do with clients, a critical (often overlooked) step in the implementation of business strategy, is to focus intently on building what we call 'reasons to believe' in the vision that you a wanting to create.
Strategy is notoriously tricky to execute when these reasons to believe are left out.
Without the logical and well-informed building blocks as to how the vision will be realised, we tend to quickly lose motivation when it comes to strategy execution as soon as the ra-ra of the offsite workshop passes.
So once a vision, or a key strategic goal, is proposed it is vital to then very carefully work backwards from that future point in time and rigorously scope the details involved; this includes realistic timelines, costs and effort.
Scoping itself is a lot of work.
After that, getting big projects successfully off the ground takes an enormous amount of effort and when these projects are not carefully scoped upfront, it can be a very nasty surprise as to just how labourious the task is as the project unfolds.
Unrealistic expectations of the work involved is really what kills motivation in strategy execution.
Scoping is not exactly the sexy part of a strategy, but it's crucial to its success.
Jeff Bezos has hammered home this point when outlining how to achieve high standards and shares this in an old letter to shareholders in which he detailed Amazon's approach:
'What do you need to achieve high standards in a particular domain area? First, you have to be able to recognize what good looks like in that domain. Second, you must have realistic expectations for how hard it should be (how much work it will take) to achieve that result – the scope.'
Step #1 - know what good looks like.
Step #2 - honestly know exactly what it takes to get to 'good'.
Here's the example that he gave - in the form of a short story:
'A close friend recently decided to learn to do a perfect free-standing handstand. No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good. She decided to start her journey by taking a handstand workshop at her yoga studio. She then practiced for a while but wasn’t getting the results she wanted. So, she hired a handstand coach. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but evidently this is an actual thing that exists. In the very first lesson, the coach gave her some wonderful advice. “Most people,” he said, “think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you’re just going to end up quitting.” Unrealistic beliefs on scope – often hidden and undiscussed – kill high standards. To achieve high standards yourself or as part of a team, you need to form and proactively communicate realistic beliefs about how hard something is going to be – something this coach understood well.'
So when you are eager to add lots of lofty goals and ambitions into your plans for the future - STOP, take a step back and honestly scope the work involved first before you commit to the project.
You'll save yourself a hell of a lot of time and worry.
More of Jeff Bezos' insistence of project scoping: