4 Tips to Ensure You Fully Execute a Winning Strategy

A businessman is breaking through the tape at a race finish line

If you really want your company to make its way into the winner’s circle, you have to put together (and stick to) a winning corporate strategy. It is not enough to just design a winning plan; you have to actually execute it and make your strategy work throughout the entire organization. And, in our experience, this is the hardest part.

On an individual level, just think of all the New Year’s resolutions and diets that start with solid plans and good intentions but fail. Individual change is difficult enough. Organizational change, especially when it comes to strategy execution, is more complex and has more at stake for more people.

After twenty years in the field of helping clients create strategic clarity and execute bold plans for success, we can offer four experience-based tips to help ensure you follow through on your strategic plans:

  1. Ruthlessly Focus Your Strategy Only On the Most Important.
    Most of our clients can successfully implement two to three big strategic initiatives at a time. Unfortunately, too many leadership teams try to do too much too fast by setting up too many goals with too many work streams. And without clear choices, employees lose focus and struggle to make decisions based upon what really matters.The lack of relevance and urgency can defeat the best intended strategic plans. If you want to fully implement your strategy, figure out what really matters and only define goals that are worth the effort. In essence, it must matter enough to gain full commitment.
  2. Ensure That Your Strategic Plan is “Just Possible.”
    Make sure that all key stakeholders believe that the strategy is possible enough in your marketplace and within your organizational culture. It should not be easy, and it should not be a pipedream. It should be a stretch that takes the best from all. You will know you are on the right track when everyone agrees with the strategic direction you are heading in and believes your company has the right mindset and talent to see the plan through to fruition.Understand what makes your situation unique. What differentiates you as a company? What assets and capabilities make you unique? Those elements should be the foundation of how you work toward your vision.
  3. Look Boldly Toward the Future.
    Give employees a crystal clear picture of what the new future looks like, why it is of benefit to all, the plan to get there and their specific part in the plan. And be wary of letting past failures or old ways of thinking limit you from achieving your goals. With the current Olympic Games as a great example of a high performance environment, think of those Olympic athletes who come back again and again, hopeful and triumphant. Michael Phelps certainly faced downturns in his life. Somehow he redirected his energies on the next opportunity for Olympic greatness and now he’s the most decorated Olympian athlete of all time. He did not let his failures define him. He renegotiated his future and planned anew. Do the same for your employees.
  4. Explicitly Identify and Remove Barriers.
    Some advocate sticking with encouragers and not wasting energy on naysayers. While it is true that people who don’t believe in the strategic vision can quickly hamper strategy execution, we recommend working with everyone to explicitly identify and proactively remove the top strategic barriers during the strategy execution phase. The key is to keep the conversation, engagement and the momentum going forward.

Decide what matters, leverage your uniqueness, focus on the future and eliminate potential barriers. Then go for it!

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