Successful Strategy Execution – What Matters Most?

a high wire balancing act to show successful strategy execution

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:

  • Outlines clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take
  • Is carried out in a way that aligns with the company’s cultural values and beliefs
  • Is implemented consistently across an organization
  • Delivers the desired results

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 20+years of experience working 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.  And there are a lot of factors that you need to get right – starting with ruthless clarity about what you are trying to accomplish.

The Top 5 Warning Signs that Your Strategy is Not Clear Enough to Execute

1. Too Complex
Fundamentally, strategy is about making choices and focusing on the critical few bets that will have the greatest impact. If you cannot identify the top 2-3 strategic priorities in a way that everyone can understand, how can you expect people to make tough choices about investments, resources, customers, markets, products, and solutions? Successful strategy execution counts on a simple and clear articulation of what matters most.

2. Too Untethered
Priorities that shift frequently based upon reactions to outside or emergent events typically lack a solid direction as guidance. Without a true North, it is easy to fall prey to the urgent instead of the important.  While it is natural for priorities to evolve, it is not effective to constantly change the game.

3. Too Political
When strategic priorities are vague, “who you know” can become more important than “what you do.” 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.

4. Too Unaccountable
Unclear strategies and plans provide a wonderful opportunity for “B” and “C” Players to hide in the shade of ambiguity. If success metrics are unclear, irrelevant, unfair, misaligned, or meaningless, you have little alignment or teeth to support successful strategy execution.

5. Too Many Silos
If teams are fragmented and working in silos, chances are they are having trouble distinguishing what matters most and how all the pieces fit together. While many leaders mistake this warning sign as personality conflicts, we find that goal and role confusion is the root cause of most internal clashes.  Unless your strategy points your key players in the same direction with clear goals and roles, 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.

While executive leaders must absolutely be on the same page about the game plan for success and the priorities that matter most, a strategic plan is just wishful thinking until you get all your key stakeholders on board.  A recent study by Bain of more than 400 companies backed this up.  The most successful executive teams overwhelmingly rated their ability to effectively engage their organizations as the No. 1 factor in their success – ranking it more than 50% higher than any other factor.

In other words, the most successful strategy execution leaders do 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

Comments are closed.

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

LSA helped change our entire culture around meetings, making them more effective and efficient, thus enabling us to concentrate on driving more business.

Terry Wassman
VP of Human Resources

Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.

Susan Anderson
Workforce Planning Bureau

On behalf of Roche and my staff I would like to sincerely thank you for your help with this. The English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment and coaching that you provided for our team was a great success.

Cam Greig
Associate Director


We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

Our company engaged LSA to do a specialized “train the trainer” program, and the consultant’s performance outdid our exceptionally high standards for such a program. Very crucial to the success of this program was the work done upfront to discuss our needs and to interview key members of our organization so that the program specifically met our goals. Our facilitators continue to comment on the success of the program. Thanks also for the follow-up.

Frank Abbott
Chief Financial Officer

Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office


I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people in the areas of performance coaching, diversity, and inclusion. They focused on helping us succeed and were very flexible in meeting our specific needs. LSA Global exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and value standpoint. I would recommend LSA Global to anyone looking for a true business partner.

Anita Luckinbill
Director, Human Resources

We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.

Jeff Coon
Director of Human Resources

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.


Kevin Ashman
Firmware Engineering Supervisor

I have worked with other training companies and found it to be more of a seller/buyer relationship than one of matching the right expertise to our business issues. That’s what LSA does – ask the hard questions, listen, and understand our business needs. We receive the benefit of their expertise from assistance with personal development plans to enhancing team performance, to looking at enterprise-wide challenges. It’s all about helping our business succeed as we grow. Right now, LSA is providing great ideas, a fresh approach, and valuable guidance as we develop our management team and accelerate our client relationship management results.

Kristin Westland-Kaune
Director, Team Development

LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

Mitch Mandich


SeaTel has found our partnership with LSA Global to be very valuable and beneficial. We turned to LSA to customize a supervisory/leadership solution to meet our needs. LSA delivered a customized top quality solution. I’d recommend LSA Global to any company looking for a best-in-class training and consulting partner.

Kortney Riddle
HR Manager

Evaluate your Performance



Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.


Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.




Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.




First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.



Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.


Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.