How to Increase the Odds of Successful Strategy Execution

A gambler moving chips in hopes of Successful Strategy Execution

Successful Strategy Execution
Strategic vision needs successful strategy execution to create sustainable results.  While a runaway product (e.g. the iPhone) or an innovative technology (e.g. cloud computing) can put you and your company on the path to success, successful strategy execution is the difference between short- and long-term staying power.

Blinded by Success
Blockbuster growth can also hide significant strategy, culture and talent flaws that will rear their ugly head when your competitive advantage undeniably shrinks (e.g. Sony PS2 when the Nintendo Wii came out.)

High Strategy Execution Failure Rate

  • According to recent research by Harvard Business Review, employees at 60% of companies rated their organization weak at strategy execution. They defined strategy execution as “the result of thousands of decisions made every day by employees acting according to the information they have and their own self-interest.”
  • IBM found that less than 10% of well formulated strategies are effectively executed.
  • Our own research found that employees believe the strategic priorities to be 50% less clear than the executive team.

Strategic Clarity Sets the Stage for Successful Strategy Execution
We think it’s a matter of the strategies having problems from the start. Our organizational alignment research found Strategic Clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams and organizations.

RELATED DOWNLOAD: Is Your Strategy Clear Enough?

Strategies Must Adapt to Support Successful Strategy Execution
Effective strategic plans allow companies to take advantage and win in light of their assumptions about their markets, customers, competitors and employees – as long as your strategy actively adapts. Our organizational alignment research rated Market Responsiveness and Timely Information Flow Across Boundaries in the top four attributes required for high levels of:

  • revenue growth
  • profitability
  • customer retention
  • employee engagement

Underperforming companies persist, despite major shifts in their predictions, in following their strategic plan step-by-step, year-by-year without sharing concerns, plans and alternatives.

How to Increase the Odds of Successful Strategy Execution
Once your strategy is clear enough, believable enough and implementable enough, the best companies design strategy execution approaches that fit today’s complexity, volatility and uncertainty. Their successful strategy execution methodologies are:

1.  Continuous
Companies that assume there are multiple paths to reach their business goals are better at maintaining the overall direction of their journey. They make short-term decisions that keep them on the general track of their long-term destination. They move from one strategy agenda item to the next in a continuous process that adjusts to changing conditions.

2.  Flexible
Executing a strategy that is overly constricted by timelines and specifics can send a company down the wrong path. While second-guessing and lack of commitment can hamper successful strategy execution, the strategy needs to collectively flex with the shifting sands of your marketplace, competition, customers, technology advancements, economic fluctuations and governmental regulations.

3.  Diverse
A strategy that banks too much on one aspect of the business has risks that make the overall company vulnerable. Successful strategy execution allows for a variety of ways to shift investments and resources so that if one path to the future is closed off, another can be opened up.

4.  Responsive
Successful strategy execution relies on being able to quickly adjust to and overcome unforeseen obstacles. Speed matters. Without the ability to move quickly, the competition can fill the space and grab the opportunity.

5.  Experimental
Another aspect of a successful strategy execution is the ability to intelligently test and learn from experiences without taking unnecessary risks. Take every opportunity to test the waters a little at a time before venturing far from port. You can learn from the results and refine the strategy accordingly.

The Bottom Line
A clear, believable and implementable strategy is a must.  It is where you have to begin.  But don’t neglect to design strategy execution elements that allow you to make moves, assess results and refine plans as you go.

To learn if your strategic growth plans are clear enough to execute across your organization, download 7 Strategic Clarity Warning Signs to Pay Attention To

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