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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Execution: Turning Strategy into Performance
Moving from the Chief Executive Officer to the Chief Execution Officer
What happens when the CEO gets involved in the details of strategy execution?
The E in CEO gets changed.
It’s all too easy for a leader to delegate the actions of strategy execution to levels of management below them.
And it’s a mistake.
By retaining the execution of strategy, the Chief Execution Officer can achieve consensus and commitment across the leadership team; establish and preserve the integrity of the strategy; and engage the team. If done correctly, this approach and these achievements can greatly improve any strategy’s performance.
Randall Russell, VP at Palladium Group and founding editor of Balanced Scorecard Report, has identified the following three practices that can lead to a successful management style of a Chief Execution Officer.
Lead the Leadership Team – creating a leadership team that is unified around the strategy is the most important prerequisite for successful strategy execution. Consensus on and commitment to the strategy provides a litmus test for determining who should stay on the team – and who should go.
Share the Story of the Strategy – too many strategies never get executed because they remain the closely guarded secrets of the leadership team. To be effective, strategy should be shared with all team members. Successful organizations believe that people who perform non-strategic but vital roles should know the general outline of the strategy so that they can become more engaged and find ways to contribute.
Leverage Strategic Performance Feedback – Once the strategy is se and the extended team is engaged, a system of strategic performance feedback must be established. Alignment of performance reward and recognition systems with strategy execution must be done early in the process. Team members who see how their individual roles make a difference will be powerfully motivated.
Application for ChurchWorld Leaders
- Establish cross-functional integration, high-level consensus, and commitment to the strategy across your leadership team.
- Translate the strategy into a set of measurable objectives that guide behavior across all your teams.
- Integrate organization-wide measurements that enable individuals to understand their contribution to the strategy
- Align reward and recognitions to the overall strategy while acknowledging unique individual contributions.
Smart leaders translate strategy into execution.
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