A great strategy or innovative product can put you in the spotlight for a moment, but you won’t last there if you don’t have a solid and strong execution. Filling in the gap between strategic planning and execution can be what’s keeping you away from a proper strategic execution.
Having a good strategy is not even half the battle, the real struggle is executing your strategy and keeping it going. And getting to your target goal is not the end of it, you still need another strategy to move from that point on, and so on.
What is Strategy Execution
Strategy execution has become a hot topic within management. It is estimated that over 60% of strategies are not successfully implemented. Senior executives have revealed that effective strategy execution is one of their most challenging matters. If you’ve ever tried to execute a strategy, chances are you agree with this statement.
If you ask your manager what he thinks Strategy Execution is, he’ll probably answer something like “the successful implementation of a plan” or “follow through with your strategy”. These statements might be somewhat true, but it doesn’t really tell us everything that strategy execution entails and how to successfully do it to drive top results.
A more proper definition would be “strategy execution is translating an organization’s strategic initiatives into action”. It is the crucial step after a long planning process, and it is extremely important to do it right not just to make the planning process worth it, but to obtain the best outcomes.
Why is Strategy Execution Important
To sum it up, big corporations and leaders spend hundreds of hours and dollars on strategic initiatives that are often not executed as intended. This can deprive customers of innovative technology or service if a company fails to execute a marketing or selling strategy to its target customers.
In the end, no matter how amazingly brilliant a strategy looks on paper, it can only shine when put into action in everyday activities.
Research indicates that over 80% of strategies fail. And they fail not because they’re incorrect, they fail because they’re not correctly executed. Day-to-day as people do their daily work, this work is not aligned to the Strategic objectives or priorities.
This results in a considerable waste of effort and resources as people from across the organization work in opposition to two other activities. A successful company relies not only on its managers’ shoulders, but also on their teams’; every employee no matter their position or hierarchy has an important role to play, and if one piece is not properly executing their job, the whole strategy could fail.
How to Execute a Strategy Successfully
Yes, everyone is a key piece when it’s time to execute a strategy, but it is up to the corporate leaders to verify everything is going according to plan; and this strategic plan could sometimes shift depending on the ever-changing markets. We cannot always predict how the market is going to react or respond to different situations, but we can anticipate ourselves with backup strategies and preparing our senior leaders to face these emerging threats and not waste precious time working on a strategic plan that’s bound to fail eventually.
The techniques listed below are intended to help managers understand the complexities of strategy implementation and to provide guidance on the aspects that will help companies achieve a successful strategy execution.
The first step is where your strategic plan and your strategy implementation overlap.
To implement a new strategy, you first must identify clear and attainable goals. Your goals should include your vision and mission statements, long-term goals, and KPIs.
The clearer the picture, the easier the rest of your strategy implementation will be for your team and organization—simply because everyone will be working towards the same goals.
As with all things, communication is key. Once your goals are clearly defined, use goal tracking software to communicate your strategy with the rest of your team.
Allocate necessary resources—like funding for strategic or operational budgets—so your team can put the strategic plan into action. If you don’t have the right resources you won’t be able to achieve your strategic plan, so this should be a top priority. Here’s how you can ensure that your team has the resources they need:
Start with the end in mind to effectively align your project’s objectives, key deliverables, milestones, and timeline.
Identify available resources like your team’s capacity, your available budget, required tools or skills, and any other unconventional resources
Define a clear project scope so you know exactly what your project needs when.
Share your project plan with everyone involved in the implementation process using a work management tool.
The better built out your strategic plan is, the easier it will be to implement it.
Develop an organizational culture that supports the strategy. The culture of a company is the backbone of every process and department, it defines the personality of your organization and represents your values. This backbone needs to support not only your organization but the way to execute your strategies.
Having a system to monitor the performance and development of the company’s strategy is a key element for successful strategy execution and achieving strategic goals. When assigning your employees OKRs and/or KPIs, hold them accountable and ask them to keep you updated on their performance. Using a project and performance management dashboard can determine if underperformance is the result of a shift in the market, a misleading strategy, or simply poor execution from your team.
To implement your strategy both effectively and efficiently, you need to create focus and drive accountability. There are a few ways in which you can keep your team engaged throughout the implementation process:
Determine roles and responsibilities early on. This may sound self-explanatory but keep in mind that sometimes we think some responsibilities and objectives are intended within others, but remember you can’t leave any grey areas when executing a strategy.
Delegate work effectively. While it can be tempting to have your eyes on everything, micromanagement will only hold you back. Once you’ve defined everyone’s roles and responsibilities, trust that your team will execute their tasks according to the implementation plan.
Communicate with your team and ensure that everyone knows how their individual work contributes to the project. This will keep everyone motivated and on track.
The tools, capabilities, and systems you’ve put in place are another key component. You have to know what the functions of each of these systems are and how they will support your strategic management process during and after the implementation.
Plan, Implement, Celebrate!
Change isn’t easy but in order for your team to grow, it’s crucial that your organization does too.
Whether you’re in the midst of developing your strategic plan with a small project team or you’re already communicating your strategy to the entire organization, reliable project management software is critical in ensuring that everyone has access to the resources they need.
And once the strategy is successfully implemented, don’t forget to give yourself and your team a pat on the back. After all, celebrating milestones like these is important too!