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Living with the uncertainty of Brexit - 3 steps to execution

By professor mike bourne

EU Keep Calm and Carry On BGP Blog-228802-edited

What will be the outcome of Brexit?  We still don’t know and some of the repercussions will run on for years. So what can we do about it? All we can do is what the government is trying to do, that is once we have some certainty we need to execute fast.

Strategic planning is great fun and we can spend hours doing just that. We can look at all the alternatives and scenarios, but at the end of the day we need to implement something and in the current environment, we need to do that quickly.

To execute quickly, we need to be able to do three things; 

  1. Decide what success looks like
  2. Track progress towards success
  3. Review and act


Deciding what to do – Success Mapping 

Delivering strategy is all about deciding what we want to do, how we are going to do it and engaging those responsible for delivery in the conversation. I have been using success mapping to do this for many years as it is a very simple planning tool that can be used in workshops with line managers. The tool is deceptively simple but when used with a management team it provokes a robust debate about the goals to be achieved and how they are to be delivered.

At the end of a success mapping exercise you should have a plan on a page that captures what success will look like. But that is only the physical output. The process of arguing about what needs to appear in the success map, the priorities and choices means that you will create real understanding amongst the team of where you want to go and a commitment to delivering the changes to get there.

Tracking Progress – Appropriate KPIs

KPIs are important. They tell us exactly how we will measure success, provide feedback on progress towards our goals and influence people’s behaviour. So it is important that we measure the right things and measure them in the right way. Our performance measure record sheet template is a simple and effective tool for engaging people in the design of KPIs so that you nail down exactly what you want to achieve.

The KPI will be useful and there as a clear guide of strategic intent, but the process of development and review is what makes it real for those involved and ultimately the organisation.

Review and Act-

In many organisations, KPIs are used as a big stick to beat people with. This approach encourages people to play games with the KPIs so they look good regardless of how the organisation is performing. So how we review performance really matters.

Performance reviews shouldn’t be about the past – what did we achieve? They shouldn’t be about blame – who was responsible for that? Performance reviews should be about questioning what happened and why, creating real understanding and then acting to create the future.

In performance reviews –

  1. Questions are more important than answers,
  2. Knowing what we don’t know is more important than what we know
  3. Finding our mistakes quickly is more important than looking good.


So what is your answer to Brexit? If you have one, that is great! If not, you may need to speed up your planning to execution cycle to survive.

Cranfield’s Strategic Performance Management programme is designed to help Directors, managers, project leaders and senior line managers who are responsible for implementing strategy, designing and refreshing their scorecards or developing their organisational performance management system.


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