3 Research-Backed Strategy Execution Steps for Leaders

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There is almost always a method to the madness. Every task we perform and the way in which we perform it; whether it’s the route we decide to take when we are travelling or when we are planning to pitch a creative idea to a client, there is usually a unique thought behind it. We think before we act; at least most of us do.

When it comes to organizations and teams trying to collectively succeed, thinking before acting becomes even more important.  And the thinking does not always need to be arduous.  Our research found that it just has to be good enough to get everyone moving in the same direction with an agreed upon plan to monitor results and adjust along the way.

Our organizational alignment research and clients tell us that less than 10% of executives are confident that strategy execution at their organization is meeting their expectations. The vast majority believe that the strategy execution in their company could be significantly improved to bring about more positive and more lasting results. When it comes to strategy execution, if you want to encounter the minimal number of hiccups along the way, then this article is for you.

The 3 Main Components of Strategy Execution
The 10% of leaders who excel at strategy (1) Clarify and Communicate, (2) Align and Lead, and (3) Implement and Cascade the strategy and their plans throughout the entire organization. While doing so, they ensure that the organizational culture (how things truly get done) is 100% aligned with making the strategy come to life in a way that makes sense for the current assumptions, beliefs, rewards and capabilities of the organization.

1.Clarify and Communicate
In high performing organizations, employees clearly understand the business strategy, believe that the path forward will be successful and know the part they (and their colleagues) are expected to play to make it happen.  Thoughtful two-way discussions, not just one-way corporate communication, is essential to make sure that the work is understood and implemented in the desired manner and with the least number of complications. Communication between employees working together can be established by scheduling strategy cascade sessions, conducting weekly team meetings, holding one-on-one meetings and utilizing other inter-personal communication mediums.

The absence of such rich discussions that allow for questions, changes and challenges can lead to a number of problems including conflicting or unattainable performance measures, poor execution, and toxic office politics.  An effective strategy is one which is clearly defined and committed to across the entire organization. Overall, executable strategies have six attributes in common:

  • Clear: Well defined and easy enough to interpret.
  • Believable: High enough probability of success.
  • Relevant: Meaningful enough for the employees, their bosses and the company as a whole.
  • Urgent: Compelling enough to create meaningful change.
  • Agile: Responsive enough to lessons learned and market changes.
  • Executable: Possible enough to implement with your current culture and talent.

2. Align and Lead
Savvy leaders know change starts from within. Fully committing to and adopting the strategy themselves is the first step in the strategy execution process. They should be the facilitators and leaders of the change instead of being the roadblocks.  Their number one job is to make it as easy as possible for employees to successfully navigate the strategic journey from where they are to where they want to be.

You will know you have strong strategic alignment when every senior leader and function act in harmony with each other to achieve a common set of objectives with an agreed upon process to resolve the inevitable conflicts and tensions.

3. Implement and Cascade
Once a leadership team has attained strategic alignment in terms of clarity, believability and implementability, its next challenge is to cascade the strategy deeper into the organization and translate it into measurable results at each and every level. This is where leaders must foster strategic change and ensure that everyone knows where they are going, why it is imperative to get there and the part they are (and others) are expected to play in making it happen.

Download Whitepaper – Is Your Strategy Clear Enough to Act?

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