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Strategic Program Management: Turning Organizational Strategy into Execution

Summary: My name is Amy Marshall-Carney and I am a Program Management Consultant. As a program manager, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some very capable, competent, and well-intentioned leaders. When I met them, they’d already built viable businesses with an established org chart and multiple departments. At that point, their most pressing question was:

“How can I steer my organization while at the same time providing the supervision, feedback, and mentorship that my teams rely upon to keep performing?”

In short, the leadership style propelling their organization to its current trajectory was no longer effective once the organization grew to its current level of sophistication. They needed a Strategic Program Manager. 

Strategy to Action

I’m part of a cadre of experienced program and project managers who partner with the Tuck Consulting Group to address a broad spectrum of clients. Despite differences in industry and level of capitalization, these clients all share some common characteristics:  

  • They possess multiple layers of operational structures, have established business processes, and purpose-driven team members recruited to solving problems and achieving outcomes.
  • They inhabit completive industries where participants must monitor, evaluate, and adjust priorities constantly in order to survive.
  • The leadership team possesses a strategic vision and is able to identify specific goals.
  • That vision may be obscured or outright invisible to individual contributors caught up in day-to-day operations.

How does a Program Manager turn a strategic vision into an actionable plan for a small business?

    1. Embrace a disciplined and structured approach for strategic implementation.
    2. Set clear, measurable, and prioritized 1-year objectives.
    3. Establish clear, measurable, and prioritized 3–5-year strategic objectives.
    4. Establish critical improvement priorities, assign resources, and create plans.
    5. Determine which key performance indicators need to be monitored to ensure progress occurs.
    6. Conduct frequent progress reviews. There’s a place for reflection and introspection in the C-Suite: Are we moving at the desired pace? Are we focused on the right things? Are we realizing expected gains? If not, what needs to change?

Essential Strategic Program Manager competencies

  1. Managing through systems: Demonstrating ethics and purpose while understanding and navigating the organization.
  2. Communication: Active listening, clear and transparent messaging, remaining sensitive to body language and other non-verbal cues, and seeking out feedback.
  3. Decision Making: Making sound, informed, and timely decisions, even under pressure or times of uncertainty.
  4. Facilitative Leadership: Authentically creating empowering space for employees to seize opportunities or to overcome difficult situations.
  5. Planning: Creating and using methodical processes and ways of working to achieve goals.
Strategic Program Managers enhance an organization’s ability to deliver value, optimize productivity, and establish a competitive advantage, all while delivering the highest quality output. They do this by translating your overarching strategic objectives into tactical activities, monitoring the progress of those activities, quantifying the results, and finally bringing back data and recommendations to the C-suite. This frees up leadership to keep focused on refining strategy and executing tactics.
Think about your current team and who has the skill set and bandwidth to play this role of Strategic Program Manager. Establishing this role with the responsibilities we’ve outlined in this post will greatly improve your organization’s ability to map strategy to action. If you want some help coaching that newly identified Strategic Program Manager or if you don’t have that skill set internally, Tuck Consulting Group and our team of expert project management professionals can help – schedule a call to let us help you. 
Amy Marshall-Carney

Amy Marshall-Carney

Program Management Consultant

Amy is a proven IT executive program manager and change management professional with over 25 years of experience inspiring teams through change, learning, and achieving better results. She has 20+ years of experience applying change management skills to initiate and embed Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) culture, systems, and programs. Amy has been partnering with Tuck since 2020 to deliver expert program and project management services. She has coached over 200 Executive Leaders and Senior Management Team members at CareMetx, Novartis Pharmaceutical, the State of Vermont, Materne North America, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Keurig Green Mountain, and IBM.

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