6 Strategy Execution Tips for Leaders To Avoid Mistakes

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Strategic Planning is Different Than Strategy Execution
Most strategy execution tips for leaders are hard-earned and learned through trail and error.  Is your carefully designed strategy working?  If not, do you know why?

Even Good Strategies Fail
The reason your strategic plans are not working as you had hoped may not be your strategy per se, but instead it might be summed up in one word that is not on the chart above: execution.  Let’s define strategy as a road map to success. There are many rationales why even well-conceived strategies do not deliver the desired results:

  • The workforce may not have been properly prepared for the change of direction
  • The market may have shifted
  • The plan may not fully account for all the variables that need to be in sync for success
  • The key stakeholders may not be fully on board
  • The corporate culture may not be aligned with the strategic direction

Basically, when strategy execution fails, there is a failure to carry out the strategic plans and follow through consistently across the organization.

The Success of Your Strategy Depends On Your Ability to Execute It
Here are six corporate strategy execution tips for leaders to get and stay on course:

  1. Actively Engage Stakeholders in the Strategy Design Process
    While strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations, recent Bain research found that successful executive teams, those that achieved their strategic ambitions, overwhelmingly rated their ability to effectively engage their organizations as the No. 1 factor in their success – a full 50% greater than the next most important factor – strategic clarity.

    So while strategic clarity is a must-have, do you have a plan to align the hearts and minds of your organization with a clear and believable strategic plan?

  2. Ensure that Your Culture Aligns with your Strategy
    Strategy must go through your people and your culture to be successfully executed.  If the way things get done related to your customers, employees, decision-making, market approach, processes, risk, or other cultural factors are misaligned with your strategy, your chances for success are slim.

    Culture, how work gets done,  accounts for a whopping 40% of of the difference between high and low performing organizations.  Is your corporate culture helping or hindering your strategy?

  3. Include Enough Strategic Detail
    Your employees may have their oar in the water, but do they know what direction the ship is headed? And if so, do they understand how their oar can move the ship toward its goal in a way that makes sense for them, their team, their manager and the company as a whole?

    Your strategy should be simply stated and clear but, just as with any workable project plan, there should be enough actionable detail behind your strategic plan to guide teams forward. This is your opportunity to actively engage your teams. Ensure that everyone understands the purpose, the plan and gets to design their unique contribution to the plan in a way that is aligned.

  4. Establish Aligned Success Metrics To Keep On Track
    When strategies change, the way success and failure is measured, rewarded, and corrected must also change.  Identify leading and lagging metrics that predict and measure success that are important, fair, accurate, timely, proportionate, urgent, and within your control that relate directly to strategic success.  A long list of attributes, but you cannot afford unaligned success metrics.
  5. Keep At It and Assess Strategic Progress Frequently
    Just like a New Year’s Resolution that lasts only through February, the temptation after a strategy retreat is to go back to the “way things have always been done.”  Keep attention on strategy execution, not just the day-to-day workings of the business. Do this by setting frequent and regular meetings that have a stated objective of sharing progress and making adjustments as necessary.
  6. Create Clear Lines of Communication
    The timely flow of information has the fourth highest correlation to high performing companies.  Active involvement and communication between all levels of the organization is critical to change behavior and performance.  Especially for employees who are charged with actually carrying out the strategy.

    Dialogue between employees, managers and executives should be often and open to encourage strategic commitment and accountability.

The Bottom Line
Strategy execution can make or break your growth plans.  Align your culture with your strategy, include enough actionable specifics, align success metrics, monitor progress, and actively involve all key stakeholders.

To learn more about strategy execution tips for leaders, download 3 Guidelines to Help You Decide if You Should Facilitate Your Next Strategy Retreat

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