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To O'Sullivan, a sound, successful strategy is clear, concise and reducible to a single page, preferably with a graphic. In addition, it must be continuously used and reinforced every time management communicates with a team.
Companies need to have one overall corporate strategy, O'Sullivan says. Each individual and team must fully understand its role and responsibility within that larger plan.
Success at IBM is measured in more than one way. One involves the use of quantitative information. More important, however, is the constant surveying of teams, to assess whether they understand the strategy and how it contributes to the company's success. "Everybody is aligned and working toward that," O'Sullivan says.
Execution must involve specific roles and responsibilities. Individuals at each site must be able to demonstrate what they’re doing to fulfill particular initiatives. O’Sullivan meets regularly with them and conducts “spot checks” of their progress.
To execute on strategy, O'Sullivan is likely to “over-communicate.” IBM conducts “town hall” meetings with employees to discuss the development and progress of the plan. The meetings help the company to see where executives are falling short in advancing it.
Also key to the initiative is the use of talent and training programs that are aligned to corporate strategy, O'Sullivan says.
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