Strategy execution is tough! Probably, no CEO who has been in business for five or more years would disagree.
When initiatives are delayed, derailed, shelved with no direction and sense of urgency – it causes chaos or in a more profound term, Failure.
Today’s disruptive businesses cannot depend on general management as a key source of competitive advantage in the global economy. As a result, many strategies go to parity among competitors. So, the deal comes down to – if strategies cannot provide a clear advantage, then strategy execution must appear as a critical and significant source of sustainable advantage.
Very often, leaders misconstrue strategy execution – they think it’s all about operations and actions and reviews. But the fact is strategy execution has a very different essence to it, which every leader must know -
1. Strategy execution is a decision tree and not a to-do list. The focus should shift from making action plans to facilitate better decisions.
2. An excellent Strategy Execution requires an excellent strategy, it cannot compensate for a poor strategy.
3. Challenges involved in strategy execution should be well thought off in the strategy design stage. It is not something that starts after the strategy is built.
4. Strategy Execution has a sequence - the order and the timing holds a lot of importance.
5. It demands both short-term and long-term thinking – one must be able to handle the day-to-day nitty-gritty’s while managing the long-term implementation plan.
6. A benchmark adds value to strategy execution – to analyse the performance leakage, it’s important to set some metric benchmark.
7. Strategy execution capabilities are built over a long term – to become best-in-class, your measurement approach should consider long-term ranging from 18 months to 3 years.
8. It involves everyone - from C-suite to senior management to front-line associates. Though their roles may be different everyone needs to contribute to execution effort.
9. It is a vast area with indistinct margins - it involves various domains from budgeting to evaluating individual objectives.
10. Strategy Execution is different than strategy making. It is a discipline of its own with its own rules, techniques, behaviours and best practices.
Leaders who develop world-class strategy execution skills must accept a new strategy paradigm, one that elevates strategy execution to a level equal to strategy formulation.
An earlier good execution was limited to the right fit between structure, strategy, culture and compensation. But this ‘fitness’ school of thought is way too static for today’s fast pace market. Today’s market requires the appliance of more techniques and behaviour's if the highest expected returns are to be achieved.