A well-crafted strategy is a beautiful thing, whether it is an overall corporate strategy, a new marketing strategy, or an operations strategy. Until it doesn’t work. Then, the questions and comments roll in… “Who thought this was a good idea?” or “They were out of touch.” And, my favorite: “I knew this wouldn’t work.”
Strategy itself is not enough. A good strategy is just the tip of the iceberg. Strategy creation must be paired with strategy execution for a company to achieve its desired results.
The need for robust execution is no surprise and many leaders believe they have rolled out their strategy and are executing effectively against it. However, many companies still underperform against their strategic goals. In fact, 61% of leaders report their firms struggle to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation.
If we know that strategy execution is important, and we’re convinced that our company is already taking action, but we are not seeing the desired results and behaviors, what should we do? How can you reposition your strategy execution for great impact?
Consider this: How well is your company following the three keys to effective strategy execution?
3 keys to effective strategy execution to close-the-gap on achieving targeted strategic outcomes:
1. Talk about it. Talk about your strategy and your goals. All. The. Time.
You may think everyone in the organization knows the strategy and its desired outcome and yet, I can assure you, they have not understood it, embraced it and internalized it in the way as your executive team and strategy creators. A recent study reported that only 14% of employees understand the organization’s strategy.
If you want your employees to understand your strategy, you’re going to have to talk about it. How? Lead with strategy.
At the start of every meeting, show your single slide strategy overview and remind everyone. "This is our strategy, this is where we are going, and this is why it’s important."
In one-on-ones, goal discussions or team meetings, talk about it and ask some questions. "Do you have any questions about our strategy?", "Do you know how you impact our strategic results?", “What are you doing (this week / month / year) that ties into our strategy?" People work on the activities and goals that they know will be discussed regularly. So keep discussing your strategy and its execution.
2. Dedicate time for it.
Successful companies apply dedicated time and resources to their strategy implementation efforts.
Effective strategy execution is not an after-thought or an add-on to someone’s job. Time needs to be carved out to ensure focus.
Throughout my career, I’ve developed and implemented a variety of strategies and initiatives. I’ve found that organizations apply their resources to strategy across a spectrum from fully-dedicated resources to part-time resources to ad-hoc resources. With results that mostly follow that level of commitment.
Ad-hoc resources, or as I like to call them “extra-time” resources, are not helpful to execution. Because when a key project or transformation is not a designated part of someone’s goals and time, the strategy effort becomes an after-thought, done when the rest of the work is done… and it’s never done!
Dedicate time and resources to your strategy execution: Ensure that roles are clear, goals are clear, and time is committed.
3. Measure it.
It’s hard to know how effectively your team is achieving its strategic goals without measuring progress. In the 1990s, the Balanced Scorecard was the buzz. Today, there’s a lot more talk about OKR (Outcomes & Key Results). Both are good approaches and how you construct and name your measurement system is less important than the actual act of doing so. Setting clear metrics (hard and soft) on outcomes, activities, and leading indicators is critical.
Use that measurement data to assess progress, adjust course and to celebrate victories along the way.
“A vision and strategy aren’t enough. The long-term key to success is execution. Each day. Every day.” Richard M. Kovacevich, former CEO Wells Fargo
Create the conditions for success for your strategy: Talk about it. Dedicate time for it. Measure it.
Progressio Global helps chemical companies accelerate business results by closing the strategy-to-execution gap. Looking for help in achieving great results? Let's talk about the proven approaches to help your company and your team achieve great results from your business strategy. Set up a call today.