It's Not About "Where?" For Strategy Execution
Securing critical capabilities precisely when they’re needed and in the right number is a perennial question, pervading boardrooms and the C-suite. Its answer directly impacts an organization’s ability to deliver on what it promises – to stakeholders, customers, and investors. And (as I often say), you cannot execute strategy without people.
So when this Wall Street Journal article noted the end of the “work-from-home era”, I rolled my eyes: Enough already.
The persistent focus on where work is done is completely unhelpful. It's also an unnecessary distraction from getting the work done. The desire for - and benefit of - flexibility is real. Done well, flexibility enhances productivity and the quality of outcomes achieved. The pandemic proved that. In fact, Embrace Pet Insurance’s President Brian Macias embraced work place flexibility as an ongoing, iterative experiment. It’s an experiment that’s paying dividends for both the people and the work.
And he’s not alone. Among the executives I advise, even those who fiercely resisted remote or hybrid working experienced its benefits in unexpected ways. Many made pandemic-induced practices permanent.
Once again: Enough already.
Real change for the office requires rethinking the work itself - not the place.
Start with identifying the critical work outcomes for your business. These are the things that have the greatest potential for impact in achieving your objectives. Focusing on the outcomes reinforces the links between strategy and operations – and the people who must actively deliver on them.
Be sure the place complements the work. Strategic and collaborative work benefits from in-person interaction. So, too, does working in a manufacturing or distribution facility. Sitting together in a building while spending the day on videocalls benefits neither the work outcomes nor the people.
Savvy executives focus on the outcomes achieved and quality of the work, not the work place. Then, they embrace practices – accompanied by appropriate tools and training – that make it easier for staff to perform well (both individually and across teams or units), irrespective of place. Find questions to consider in this related article, here.
Strategy execution is not about “where?” Instead, focus first on “to what end?” Then, identify what’s needed to enhance work quality and results. The answers to those questions should drive decisions about place.