In the business world it is basic knowledge that you must have a strategy in order to succeed. A business strategy is a plan of action that helps you fulfill your business’ mission. The execution of that strategy, or strategy execution, is the set of decisions and actions that result in fulfillment of the strategy. Another way to think of this is that a strategy is like a pattern or flowchart of decisions that will lead to success. Strategy execution is how to make those choices.
To improve your business’s strategy execution, it is essential that everyone on your team focuses on making better decisions.
Strategy Execution is Non-Linear (Not a Straight Path)
A traditional action plan or “to-do list” is often too simplistic of a method to improve your business’ strategy execution. As a leader and entrepreneur it’s important to realize that many business’ core missions cannot be attained in a linear, step-by-step, fashion. In fact, the path to success is very often circular, curvilinear, wavy, or anything but straight. Much like the logic behind a complex computer code, strategy execution is most often best represented in the modern world as a decision tree that involves multiple pathways that are full of conditional rules resulting in a changed path depending on the circumstances at any given moment. Therefore, to result in successful outcomes of a business strategy, a leader needs to focus on making the best possible decision at any “fork in the road” that they may encounter. Supervisors and managers must also help their employees make better decisions as well by constantly helping them stay in tune with the company’s goals.
Always remember that the worst decision is no decision. As a leader you have to be decisive and possess the ability to think on your feet.
Strategy Execution Should be Process Engaged
Within any organization there will be dozens, perhaps even hundreds or thousands, of processes and operations going on at any one time. Good strategy execution must seek to ensure that all of the processes that are operating within an organization are aligned towards the core mission of the company. Within every process is a decision, or a multitude of decisions, that are being made. This includes budgeting, production of goods, product design, marketing, and even the customer service aspects of a business. The key here as that all parts of a business must contribute to successful execution of the business’ strategy.
Strategy Execution is Employee Engagement
From the CEO and management team to the front line worker or person answering the phones, everyone is involved in executing the strategy. While everyone’s roles may be different, all employees within any organization (and in many cases contract workers as well), contribute a vital role to a business’ execution strategy. Good leaders, supervisors, and managers should work with all employees to promote mission-aligned decision making.
Good strategy execution requires an unspoiled integration between the performance of the organization itself, the organizations departments/sections, and the individual worker. A strong linkage between the worker and the business’ mission is critical. Good leadership that promotes the long term mission, vision, and values will help to strengthen the bond between employees and their work. An organization’s leaders must also be personally engaged and must be willing take on the challenges of operating a successful business within today’s market conditions.
“Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely, and the likely definite.”
Strategy Execution Is Time Dependent
Developing a business strategy, often called the strategic plan, can take a few weeks (or months in some cases), however, the execution of this strategy can take quite longer to achieve. Strategy execution is a marathon and every situation is different. During the period of time leading up to the internet revolution, many businesses would take decades to grow into a national, let alone global company. There were limitations on the speed of growth and it was often directly tied to the rate of society’s technological advancement. In addition, marketing a product or business was more challenging before the internet.
Nowadays, a superb leader can develop and grow a company from no revenue to billions of dollars in just a matter of a few years. For example, the ride sharing company, Uber, was founded in 2009. In less than 10 years, Uber had annual revenues exceeding $7.5 billion. This is an amazing amount of growth which is due in no small part to their excellent strategy execution.
The age of the internet offers many advantages to entrepreneurs including cheap, quick access to customers and an abundant availability of knowledge and information. Strategy execution can often be monitored and incubated more efficiently and effectively than ever before. However, no matter the business or company that you work for, strategy execution will always take longer than developing the strategy in the first place.
Strategy Execution is Dynamic
The execution of a business’ strategy is something that will always be changing and growing. In fact, businesses that fail to change and adapt will soon fail to exist. This demands strong leadership talent within the organization that can focus both on short and long-term goals at the same time. The long-term implementation plan will always be course-corrected based on changes in circumstances at any given decision point. Short-term actions must always be aligned to the mission but must also take into consideration changing market conditions as well as changes in regulation and technology.
Strategy Execution Requires a Great Strategy
Great execution can never compensate for a poor strategy. In other words, a poorly constructed business strategy will result in a difficult execution. Strategy execution isn’t something that is discussed after a strategic plan is developed and implemented. Implementation mechanics and challenges should be considered during the development of the strategic plan itself. Good leaders, entrepreneurs, and managers understand that a great strategy for success must include provisions for implementation and execution within it or it will be doomed to failure.
Strategy Execution Development Questions
When thinking about strategy execution it often helps to think about it by asking yourself and others questions. The questions below are examples of things to think about to help orient people towards the mission critical success drivers while also invoking a spirit of unity within an organization:
- How can you leverage employee strengths to further the organization’s mission?
- Do employees fully understand and agree with the organization’s mission and vision?
- Do employees understand how their individual contribution to the team and company makes a difference?
- What tasks and projects can be cut from the team’s workload that aren’t mission critical or strategic-plan oriented?
- Can you bury organizational silos and foster cross-disciplinary alignments to improve operational efficiency?
- Can your organization’s structure be rearranged to help reduce duplication and bureaucracy?
- How can organizational goals be translated into milestones that can be more easily achieved?
- What metrics need to be captured to ensure performance is on track?
- How will leadership drive the company’s culture towards being innovative and resourceful while also helping them to accept the changing, dynamic nature of strategy execution?
- Is the leadership and executive team flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions in the market, society, and technology? What about the employees?
- And possibly most important of all, how can you “keep it simple?”