Successful Strategy Implementation Mistakes to Avoid

two fingers with happy faces indicating a successful strategy implementation

Successful Strategy Implementation is Far from Easy
Closing the strategy execution gap is hard work.  Not many organizations naturally combine strategy and strategy execution.  Research by IBM found that only 10% of strategies are deemed to be successfully executed.  According to PWC, only 8% of leaders excel at both strategy and execution.

Successful Strategy Implementation Starts with Strategic Clarity
Successful strategy execution begins with strategic clarity. Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of revenue, profitability, customer loyalty and employee engagement.  A strategy is clear when those who have to lead and implement it:

  • Can consistently articulate what matters most
  • Believe that the strategy is equal to the challenge at hand
  • Know it is implementable in their unique market and culture

Two Successful Strategy Implementation Mistakes to Avoid
Successful strategy execution starts with designing a clear and compelling strategy that will help your business win while guiding decision-making and roles throughout the company.  The process of communicating the strategy is often called cascading, or spreading the plan to all levels, teams and employees.  But before you cascade the strategy from the board room to the frontline whose everyday work will be informed by the plan, consider these two often-ignored mistakes:

1. Being OK with Misalignment
Misaligned goals and conflicting success metrics wreak havoc on strategy execution. Primary strategic alignment occurs when everyone in an organization works toward the same goals and success metrics.  Secondary strategic alignment is when goals and measures, while aligned with the overall strategy, are unique to each team or function.  Both approaches can work.

Unfortunately, too many leaders are unclear about how each function directly or indirectly fits with the overall plan.  Fight for alignment.

2. Not Actively Involving Your Employees
While we believe strategy design starts with the executive leadership team, strategies cannot be consistently implemented across an organization without commitment from the hearts and minds of key stakeholders. Smart leaders actively involve their employees in translating the strategy into daily goals, actions and metrics that work for them and for the business.

Mandated strategies from the top rarely hit the mark or meet the needs of customers without the dedicated help and thoughtful input from the frontline. Empower employees to challenge strategic assumptions early on and to make the decisions that work best for them in the strategy implementation phase.

The Bottom Line
Successful strategy execution requires accountability for explicit alignment and active involvement from those you expect to carry out your plans.  Do not let strategic ambiguity set the stage for conflicting priorities and do not expect strategic compliance from those who have not been involved in making the strategy their own.

To learn more about successful strategy execution, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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