Best Practices

What Is a Strategic Initiative?

Jonathan Friedman
October 19, 2020
What Is a Strategic Initiative?

The strategic initiative. You've likely been a part of one before, maybe knowingly or unknowingly. Whether you're an expert or a newbie, we at TrueNxus will share everything you need to know or want to know about strategic initiatives in this article.


Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

  1. What is a strategic initiative?
  2. Strategic initiative examples
  3. Strategic initiative management process illustrated
  4. Why strategic initiatives fail?
  5. How to ensure strategic initiatives are successful?

What is a strategic initiative?

Strategic initiatives are a way to translate the company's strategy, or vision, into a reality. Typically, you structure strategic initiatives in the form of a project, or a set of projects (a.k.a., program), to initiate a transformation. Given they are transformative, they are more often than not separate from your day-job, and they require a significant level of change management across the entire organization. That means you're going to need to work across cross-functional teams.

Given the nature of strategic initiatives, new responsibilities separate from your day job, and the fact that it requires change management, they are often dreaded throughout the organization. Nobody likes change, and change management is significantly hard to execute, especially when it requires aligning with colleagues with differing priorities. As a result, processes and systems need to be put in place to plan and execute strategic initiatives successfully. TrueNxus can help with this.

Strategic initiative examples

While there are many strategic initiatives, they can all be aligned against one of the following three corporate strategies. Below we'll walk through the different types of corporate strategies and examples of strategic initiatives within each.

Growth strategy

Growth strategies are ways in which the division or company can achieve greater market share for the product or service. These strategies can be both short-term or long-term in nature. Additionally, these strategies can be organic or inorganic. Strategic initiatives that fall into a growth strategy require cross-functional teams to be successful. Below are some examples of a strategic initiative that are aligned to a growth strategy.

Stability strategy

Stability strategies are ways the division or company can maintain market share for the product or service. When stability strategies are undertaken, it's an opportunity to optimize efficiency, whether financial efficiency or operational efficiency. Strategic initiatives that fall into a stability strategy may or may not require cross-functional teams to be successful. Below are some examples of a strategic initiative that are aligned to a stability strategy.

Retrenchment strategy

Retrenchment strategies require a division or company to withdraw products or services from specific markets. When retrenchment strategies are undertaken, it's an opportunity to reorganize. Strategic initiatives that fall into a retrenchment strategy require cross-functional teams to be successful. Below are some examples of a strategic initiative that are aligned to a retrenchment strategy.

Strategic initiative management process illustrated

Strategic initiative management process illustrated

In the simplest of terms, the strategic initiative management process is not complicated. Below are the six steps for developing and managing strategic initiatives.

  1. Vision: Senior leadership sets the short-term and long-term vision for the company.
  2. Objective: Aligned to the vision, senior leadership sets attainable and measurable objectives.
  3. Plan: Launch the strategic initiative, allocate resources, and develop a project plan.
  4. Execute: Execute the project plan to attain the objectives.
  5. Monitor: Conduct status updates, monitor progress and identify roadblocks.
  6. Report: Create status reports and share with senior leadership to measure progress against the plan.

Why strategic initiatives fail?

While the strategic initiative management process is not complicated, the actual execution is; therefore, strategic initiatives often fail. Below are the top three reasons why strategic initiatives fail.

  1. Lack of leadership from the top
  2. No project management focus
  3. Shifting priorities

1. Lack of leadership from the top

One of the most common reasons why strategic initiatives fail is a lack of leadership from the top. Strategic initiatives need to be established at the top of the organization because they need to align with the company's overarching vision or strategy. Simultaneously, the company needs to identify a very senior leader to be accountable for driving results. The senior executive must have the strategic initiative's objectives tied to their compensation to get the attention it needs.

2. No project management focus

Another common reason for why strategic initiatives fail is not having any project management focus or structure. While strategic initiatives have an end goal of becoming a part of an organization's day-to-day operations, they don't start that way. You'll find that strategic initiatives always begin as a project. As a result, you should treat any strategic initiative as a project and put the right project management structure in place.

3. Shifting priorities

Lastly, another reason why strategic initiatives fail is that the company's priorities shift. This could be due to external or internal reasons. Maybe the world is hit with a global pandemic, like COVID-19. In that case, supply or demand may have changed, and therefore the strategic initiative is no longer relevant. There are any number of reasons as to why the company's priorities may shift. However, what is essential is that the strategic initiative team members should keep an open mind because this is always a possibility.

How to ensure strategic initiatives are successful?

Planning and executing strategic initiatives is extremely difficult, but TrueNxus can help you. TrueNxus will be your single source of truth where you can not only instill best practices for strategic planning, but more importantly best practices for successfully executing your strategic initiatives. With TrueNxus, you and your organization will be able to align everyone on leadership, goals and objectives, and communication. Not to mention, everyone will be aligned with real-time access to where things stand in the strategic initiative.

Below are several features on how TrueNxus can ensure a successful strategic initiative.

1. Project charter

Project charter illustration

Leverage OKR and create a project charter. You can ensure a successful strategic initiative by documenting and aligning on the strategic initiative's objectives, benefits, and risks from the very beginning.

2. Personalized views

Personalized views illustration

Every business function specializes in a specific domain and, as such, thinks about project management differently. As a result, to ensure the successful execution of a strategic initiative, you need a project management software that provides personalized views. These views need to be in sync as well.

TrueNxus provides you with the following views:

List

Project plan list

A list is a table that allows you to manage your project plan easily. Organize the work into groups such as workstreams, or any logical way to categorize tasks.

Timeline

Project timeline, Gantt-chart

Visualize the project as a Timeline, a Gantt chart like view that lets you understand how the entire project fits together. Make updates to the project plan through an interactive interface.

3. Automated project status reports

Project status report

We understand that each team member is busy balancing multiple priorities. Therefore, TrueNxus helps successfully execute strategic initiatives by automatically analyzing the project health in real-time, giving senior leadership and the team the insights they need to make decisions and move the ball forward.

4. My Work

My Work - One place to manage all tasks across all projects

Another essential thing in strategic initiatives is to understand what you're on the hook for delivering. With TrueNxus, you can view every task and every dependency that is important to you, across every strategic initiative, in one location, ensuring successful strategic initiatives.

5. Dependencies

Dependencies

Additionally, we know that you don't want to let your colleagues down or be let down. You can ensure successful strategic initiatives through collaboration and by documenting task dependencies. By doing so you, you can be accountable when others are reliant on you. You can understand dependent tasks, change implications, and adjust course as needed.

6. Automated notifications

Automated workflows - notifications

You can also successfully execute strategic initiatives by using project management software where you get notified when changes occur. With TrueNxus's 20+ out-of-the-box automated notifications, you will have the transparency you need to stay in-the-know.

7. Comments

Collaboration with comments

Lastly, the entire team can ensure strategic initiatives are successful by collaborating directly in the app. With TrueNxus, you and colleagues, and guests can communicate with one another directly in tasks.

TrueNxus has everything you and your company need to plan and execute strategic initiatives successfully.

See for yourself, and sign up for a free trial today (no credit card needed).