Business Strategy

Business Strategy execution is always a hot topic for Boards and Executives. A recent Survey of CEOs revealed that chief executives are so concerned about strategy execution that they rated it as both their number one and number two most challenging issue. For anyone who’s tried to execute strategy, this finding should come as no surprise. It is estimated that more than 60% of strategies are not successfully implemented.

Kyanite Consulting have found that the following steps lead business leaders down the pathway to successful and sustained strategy execution:

Step 1: Visualise the strategy

One of the most pressing challenges in all of strategy is simply understanding what a strategy is. An effective way to improve this understanding is to visualise the strategy via an illustration that shows both the important elements of the strategy and how each relates to one another.

Step 2: Measure the strategy

Key elements of the visualised strategy should be assigned an easily understood performance measure. The full set of strategic performance measures can be organised into a dashboard, a Balanced Scorecard, or some other framework to monitor progress and to determine that progress is being made toward completion of the strategy.

Step 3: Report progress

In the same way that a budget is reviewed monthly to ensure financial commitments are being kept, the strategy should be reviewed regularly, but with more of an eye toward determining if the strategy is producing results, versus controlling performance.

Step 4: Make decisions

Strategy execution is much like sailing a boat toward a planned destination. A defined course and a full complement of navigational charts will never eliminate the need to remain vigilant, to assess the environment, and to make corrections as conditions change. As part of the regular reporting process leaders must make ongoing strategic decisions to keep the strategy current and on course.

Step 5: Identify strategy projects

Organisations may have scores, if not hundreds, of projects ongoing at any point, however they rarely have a firm grasp on the type and range of these projects. The first step in improving project-oriented strategy execution is to capture and organise all projects particularly strategy execution projects.

Step 6: Align strategy projects

Once projects are captured they must then be aligned to the strategies or goals for the organisation. This step entails comparing each project, either proposed or ongoing, to the strategic goals to determine if alignment exists. Only those projects that directly drive and/or underpin the strategy should be resourced and continued.

Step 7: Manage projects

Organisations must develop a project management culture and capability if they are to execute strategy effectively. In some settings, projects receive very little management with many projects failing or continuing well over time and budget. The full complement of projects in any organisation should be coordinated and controlled by a central project office or officer with the responsibility for monitoring both progress and performance.

Step 8: Communicate strategy

It is difficult to execute strategy when the strategy itself isn’t well understood, or performance relative to it is not communicated. Leaders must communicate their visualised strategy to the workforce in a way that will help them understand not only what needs to be done, but why.

Step 9: Align individual roles

Employees want to know they are making a meaningful contribution to their organisation’s success. It’s up to senior leaders to ensure that employees at all levels can articulate and evaluate their personal roles toward achievement of specific strategic goals. This is perhaps one of the most critical aspects of the execution process.

Step 10: Reward performance

In strategy execution, as in any other area of management, what gets measured gets done. Taking this one step further, what get measured and rewarded gets done faster. After explaining the strategy and aligning the workforce to it, senior managers institute the incentives that drive behaviours consistent with the strategy.

Strategy execution is difficult in practice for many reasons, but a key impediment to success is that many leaders don’t know what strategy execution is or how they should approach it. Home-grown approaches may be incomplete if they fail to incorporate many of the basic activities highlighted above.

“To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualise, then plan …believe… act!”

Alfred A. Montapert

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