How to Move from Strategy to Action

How to Move from Strategy to Action
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Strategy without Action Is Just Wishful Thinking
Despite the time and effort leaders put into crafting a clear business strategy, one of the most distressing statistics is that, according to a recent IBM survey, 90% of strategies fail to meet expectations. The loss can be calculated not only in time and effort but also in dollars, missed opportunities, and employee morale. Where did things go wrong from strategy to action?

If you are struggling to get measurable results from your recent strategy retreat, you need to understand what is going wrong and fix it.

The Usual Fault
The fault most often lies in the strategy execution phase – the critical next step that involves translating top level strategies into the kind of realistic implementation plans that stakeholders can understand and buy into. The question is: How can your organization buck the odds and set up a strategy execution roadmap that will get you and your teams where you want to go in a way that makes sense?

Four Keys to Success
Our organization alignment research has highlighted four keys to the successful execution of your overall strategy.

  1. Strategic Clarity
    Strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.  Is your strategy couched in simple persuasive language that employees “get” and can wholeheartedly subscribe to? You need a strategic “story” line that resonates with all those who will be charged with translating the plan into separate action steps.

    Articulate a business case for change that makes sense for your business and sets the organization up for success.

    Is your strategy clear, believable, and implementable enough to those who will be expected to implement it?
  2. Step-by-Step Guidelines
    To be set up for success, a strategy must be broken down into the specific “how” at the individual, team, and organizational levels.  With a clear line of sight, each function, each team, and each individual employee understands exactly how they are to operate and where and when they will interact with others.

    For execution success, each cog of the machine must be held accountable to deliver as promised.

    Does everyone know what to do and when in the next 90-days?
  3. Agility and a Learning Mindset
    The 90-day operational road map provides guidelines, but there will inevitably be unforeseen roadblocks. Any deviation from the original plan can be disconcerting. Accept that no one can anticipate all that can go wrong.

    This is when organizational change agility comes into play. You will need to course correct to stay on track. The key is to learn from miscalculations or external forces that require a shift in plan and move forward along a detour that makes sense.

    Have you assessed the change readiness of your key stakeholders?  Are change mindsets where they need to be?
  4. Measurement
    Measuring strategy execution is critical –to increase accountability, create transparency, and to celebrate success.  Leading and lagging metrics should be relevant, fair, accurate, trusted, meaningful, and timely. Updates should prompt discussions and improvements to the plan, so you maintain continuity, collaboration, and commitment.

    How are you measuring success and failure?

The Bottom Line
If designing a meaningful strategy is the foundation, execution is the actual construction of the building and the greatest challenge. Are you following all four critical keys to building a successful future for your organization?

To see if your strategy is clear enough to move from strategy to action, download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy before Moving to Implementation

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