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Many senior leaders across different businesses have shared with me that their executives and managers aren’t strategic enough. In their words, “they don’t get the strategy and are not aligned with what we’re trying to do.” This sometimes causes leaders to be conflicted about how much to include their executives in strategic discussions. On the one hand, they need to engage executives and managers at all levels in executing the strategy. On the other hand, if they don’t understand the strategy, they’ll put an operational spin on it and, in their words, “drive it in the ditch.” This leads to frustration as strategic execution can be impeded by a lack of strategic thinking skills across the organization.

An antidote to this problem is enabling key leaders to translate strategy at their level. Strategy translation is a process where executives and managers understand the big picture and how they personally fit into it. Then they work through a process (we call it a thinking framework) that guides them in translating the overall strategy at their level. They apply whole business thinking that helps them create a better balance working ON the business vs. IN the business.

Strategy translation reframes how you think about cascading strategy. Translation at the local level creates buy-in, ownership, engagement and alignment. It evolves your strategic plans into collective intent. Using a structured approach, the strategy translation process can be done well by executives and managers at any level of an organization.