Successful Strategy Execution Is Not the Norm
Sadly, IBM found that less than 10% of well formulated strategies are successfully executed.
When it comes to successful strategy execution, how can you beat the odds? We define successful strategy execution as a corporate strategy that:
When it comes to desired results, a strategic plan is only the beginning, not the end.
Why is Successful Strategy Execution So Hard?
In our 30+years of experience facilitating strategy retreats with leaders and companies of all shapes and sizes, we agree with the research. It is not easy to galvanize a group of people to flawlessly carry out a plan to achieve a common goal together against competitors and changing market conditions.
There are a lot of factors that you need to get right — starting with ruthless leadership team clarity about what you are trying to accomplish.
The Top 5 Warning Signs that Your Strategy is Not Clear Enough to Execute
Successful strategy execution counts on a simple and clear articulation of what matters most strategically.
Have the fortitude to see plans through.
Strategic ambiguity creates a corporate version of “survival of the fittest” that gets played out with political power plays, turf battles, and deceptions that hinder progress. People start ingratiating themselves with powerful individuals, taking undeserved credit, hoarding information, and blaming others when it furthers their interests.
Ensure that you have a culture of accountability that creates the right amount of performance pressure to guide strategic change forward.
While many leaders mistake this warning sign as personality conflicts, we find that goal, role, and reward confusion is the root cause of most internal clashes. Unless your strategy points your key players in the same direction with clear and aligned goals, roles, and rewards, your path will be impeded by silos, internal battles, and confusion.
Actively Engaging and Involving Key Stakeholders
Once your strategic direction is clear enough to act, it is time to actively engage and involve your key stakeholders. We used to think that a strategy was ready to be successfully executed once the executive team was all on the same page. Boy, have we been proven wrong.
In other words, the most successful strategy execution does not overlook the importance of harnessing both the hearts and minds of the workforce they rely upon to make the plans a reality. To succeed at executing your strategy, you need employees to jump in with both feet. Too many executives wait until everything is fully baked before actively involving their employees.
How to Capture Hearts and Minds
There’s no secret to how to engage people in a common purpose. They have to believe that it’s worthwhile, that they have a meaningful stake in the outcome, that they have something of value to contribute and gain, and that they have a say in how to make it happen. They need to buy into the vision of success and participate in the design of the roadmap to get there. In a nutshell, they need to feel listened to, included and appreciated.
What You Gain — Alignment
Leaders who heed this advice are rewarded by employees who understand the strategy, support where the organization is headed, and do their best to move their team in the right direction. They make daily, on-the-job decisions that are in sync with the over-arching strategy. They execute their jobs with a commitment to making those “clear and compelling choices” outlined in the agreed-upon business plan.
The Bottom Line
If you really want to implement a winning strategy, be sure your workforce is working alongside you and that they have a similar drive to achieve strategic success. The good news is that this approach allows you to share a half-baked strategy with your teams so that you can get their “in the trenches” help and advice in completing it in a way that makes sense.
To learn more about successful strategy execution, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy
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