Most organizations’ strategies deliver only 63% of their promised value (HBR study, 2005).
Leaders press for better execution when they really need a more sound strategy. Or they craft a new strategy when execution is really the weak spot.
Leaders can avoid these errors by viewing strategy and execution as a linked pair.
Here are seven rules for successful strategy execution:
- Keep it simple – avoid drawn-out descriptions of lofty goals. Instead, clearly describe what your organization will – and won’t – do.
- Challenge assumptions – ensure that the assumptions underlying your long-term strategic plans reflect reality, not wishful thinking.
- Speak the same language – everyone on the team, from senior leaders to front-line team members, need to have a common framework for assessing performance.
- Discuss resource deployment early – challenge teams to be realistic about when and how they will execute the strategy. Push them earlier rather than later for the most feasible plans.
- Identify priorities – delivering planned performance requires a few key actions taken at the right time, in the right way. Make strategic priorities explicit, so everyone knows what to focus on.
- Continuously monitor performance – measure real-time performance against your plan, resetting planning assumptions and reallocation resources as needed. Doing this will remedy flaws in your plan and it execution, and avoid confusing the two.
- Develop execution ability – no strategy can be better than the people who must implement it. Strategy development must include team selection and training.
By following these rules, you reduce the likelihood of performance shortfalls. If you do happen to falter, you can quickly determine whether the fault lies with the strategy itself, your plan for pursuing it, or the execution process.
The payoff will be that your organization can make the right mid-course corrections – promptly.
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