What’s Going Wrong with Strategy Execution?
An IBM survey reported that less than 1 out of 10 strategies are effectively executed. Unless you are in that rarefied 10% of companies whose strategies are being successfully implemented, you better figure out how to better execute strategy and fix it.
Strategy matters. Our organizational alignment research found strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performance in terms of revenue, profitability, customer loyalty, and employee engagement.
6 Ways to Better Execute Strategy
Here are ways to think about and craft an implementable strategy:
- Make Strategy Real and Tailored to Your Business
Do the hard work to eliminate ideas that sound impressive but lack actionability. Avoid the slogans that are more like rallying cries than a well-considered plan of what will make a meaningful difference in your particular organization.
A truly implementable strategy is not generic; it is specific and focused on action. Sure, you may well wish to be “Number One” in your field, but a real strategy sets out how you must go about earning that title.
- Narrow the Field
You are far more likely to create alignment and make tangible progress if you focus on the one or two moves that matter most. Too many strategic workstreams dilute energy, create complexity, and invite misalignment. Rather than the hare scampering about in many different directions, be the tortoise who moves deliberately and steadfastly toward the goal. Use your resources in a purposeful way that maximizes your odds of winning.
- Evaluate Feasibility
Determine that your strategy is truly viable. Your strategy must go through your people and your culture to be successfully implemented. Will your corporate culture help or sabotage your strategic plan? Do your people have the competence, confidence, and support to pull it off?
- Enable Supportive Systems
Regardless of your strategy, it will most likely involve some degree of organizational change. Make sure you create the collective mindsets, processes, systems, rewards, consequences, and communications to reinforce the key actions and behaviors required to propel your strategic plan forward.
- Set and Manage the Course
Once you have all agreed upon the strategic priorities, translate them into specific actions so that employees at every level understand what is expected. When there is a glitch or a barrier to success, repair or eliminate it. As long as you continue to move in the right direction, make the choices, take the calculated risks, and adjust the track as needed.
- Finally, Stay the Course
A clear strategic plan is just the beginning. Leaders must continually communicate strategic objectives, measure progress, and involve stakeholders to ensure understanding, buy-in, and continuous improvement. Do not underestimate how frequently leaders must listen, model, reinforce, and adjust.
The Bottom Line
Is your strategy being implemented successfully across your organization? A successful strategy must be clear, understood, well-supported, aligned with talent and culture, occasionally adjusted, and continually monitored. Certainly not easy, but often the difference between success and failure.
To learn more about how to better execute strategy, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy