Better Strategy Execution: Know Where You are Going and How

Better Strategy Execution: Know Where You are Going and How
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Better Strategy Execution Matters
Better strategy execution is a goal for most executive teams.  Unfortunately, employees report being half as clear about strategic priorities as their boss. There is measurable confusion in the ranks regardless of industry, location, or size.

Strategic Ambiguity Breeds Mediocrity
For better strategy execution, everyone must understand and be confident about where the company is headed and how it will get there.  If people are unclear, you have a big, big problem in terms of decision making, resource allocation, employee engagement, and organizational churn.  We define organizational churn as harmful or ineffective goals, roles, processes, metrics, behaviors, assumptions, values, conflicts, or reward systems.

When organizational churn gets too high, it can create total derailment for a team or company.

You Are Not Alone
According to research by IBM, only one out of ten organizations manages to successfully implement their strategies on a consistent basis. Why do so many fail at strategy execution? At the core, it is simple – a lack of strategic clarity.

Strategic Clarity Accounts for 31% of the Difference
In our own organizational alignment research, we found that strategic clarity accounts for up to 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies.  In lower performing organizations, far too many employees lack the level of strategic and leadership faith required to successfully implement the organization’s plans.  Without clarity, people work at cross purposes, operate in silos, and lack the true focus required to be decisive when it matters most.

So What Should You Do If You Have Strategic Ambiguity?

1.  Create Executive Team Alignment
First and foremost, the entire leadership team needs to be 100% aligned in three areas:

  • Where You Are Headed
    This includes being on the same page about your organizational vision, mission, differentiation, target clients, optimizing strategies and key success metrics.
  • How You Will Get There
    This includes being on the same page about your organizational values, roles, processes, practices, beliefs, culture, performance exposure mechanisms, rewards, recognition, and consequences.
  • How You Will Measure Progress, Adjust, and Communicate
    This includes creating communication and accountability mechanisms so everyone knows where things stand and what is coming up next.

2.  Ensure Strategic Belief and Conviction
The leadership team and the rest of the organization must fundamentally believe:

  • Strategic Quality: the quality of your strategy and plan is equal to the challenge of your business objectives.
  • Talent Quality: you have the right quality people to effectively execute your strategy and plan.

When it comes to better strategy execution, conviction is critical.  Conviction and belief is important because any goal worth achieving is not easy to accomplish.  Your team must have the right collective mindset to effectively balance some common strategic tensions when times get tough such as:

  • Seeing the bigger picture AND executing at a tactical level
  • Being decisive AND adaptable
  • Being optimistic AND realistic
  • Focusing on your customers AND your employees
  • Performing in the short-term AND creating long-term, sustainable health

The Bottom Line
An unclear business strategy hinders better strategy execution.  When faced with organizational churn, finger pointing and silos, too many leaders look to reorganize because the organizational structure changes are visible, quick and concrete.  Our alignment research shows that this is a mistake.

To learn more about being set up for better strategy execution, download 7 Proven Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy


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