The Art and Science of Strategy

Strategy Execution

Planning without execution is just a dream

Execution is the active implementation of your strategy and plan. It’s the engaged alignment of people, systems, and process around your key objectives. It’s how you translate your conceptual framework into a feet-on-the-ground, operational reality. Execution is about doing what you’ve committed to do, staying focused amidst the challenge, and not letting up when things get tough.

For many firms, execution is the most challenging aspect of strategy to master. This is true for many reasons. Some firms lack the necessary discipline to implement a multi-year strategy successfully. Others lack the will to make the tough decisions that strategic change can bring. And far too often, firms lose focus or move on to the next new thing, leaving the organization in disarray and confusion.

Strategic execution requires follow-through, commitment and discipline

There are many factors—both tangible and intangible—that will determine the ability of your organization to execute your strategy effectively. Chief among these are:

  • People. Do you have the right people and do they have the right capabilities? Is your executive and management team capable of embracing the strategic vision, managing the process, and staying committed to the desired outcome? Will your culture support the changes you need to make?
  • Process. Do you have a well-defined, understandable and supported process in place to move you from where you are now to where you need to go? Is your process sustainable? Is it adaptable to changes in your competitive environment, industry and the macro economy?
  • Resources. Have you allocated enough of the right resources to achieve your objectives? Are you clear about the people, time, energy and dollars necessary to move your plan forward? Are you willing to maintain the resource commitment over the time frame necessary to actually see results?

Effective execution is effective project management

If you have project management experience and capabilities within your organization, you have a head start on properly executing your strategic plan. The ability to manage a tough project requires essentially the same skills necessary to execute a strategy or strategic portfolio. Effective execution involves tasks, accountabilities, metrics and measurement. It demands vision, drive and an unrelenting focus on outcomes. It requires that you work the plan, manage resources and expectations wisely, and achieve the outcomes your organization requires.