Execution versus Strategy? No, a need for symbiosis!

“A plan is only a plan, strategy without execution is only a dream.”
“But execution without a strategy is a mess.”

How many great strategy plans end up in the bottom drawer? Or are revamped/reinvented before they really take off?

Most strategists do not realize that execution starts before the plan is made. This is done by:

  • Involving the right people in the making of the strategy, not only the optimal for plan creation but also those that need to carry the torch forward in communication, in leadership and frontline
  • Setting the right tone from the beginning, top leadership has to be transparent about the reasons for, the goals and the processes around the strategy creation top the teams working on the strategy
  • Consistent messaging and communication, managing expectations
    • Do not over-promise certainty especially where it does not or may never exist
    • Do not hide constraints/starting points that are real
    • Balance timing of internal and external communication 
  • Involve external challengers and stakeholders (customers, suppliers, partners) early on

During the plan creation some good practices involve:

  • Make the vision and goals clear but allow room for agile adaptation to different scenarios and be willing to say this early on
  • Allocate the right amount and quality of resources, without jeopardizing core capabilities needed for the future
  • Create ambassadors across the organization
  • Make the plan visible and traceable for all, use dashboards and/or other means to show progress, but use them wisely – all green scores are a sign of a unsafe organization, never shoot the messenger

Once the plan is ready the hard work starts:

  • Set up a partly new organization to drive and support the new initiatives needed
  • But link the new efforts closely to existing processes to secure fast integration and avoid internal competition of old versus new ways of working
  • Communicate rigorously at multiple levels, mobilize and empower your ambassadors

What do my own experiences suggest 

  • Best implementation teams combine solid experience with new talent 
  • Great implementation involves a dedicated change organization linked to the normal operations and is:
    • CEO owned but Steerco steered
    • Lead by one respected project owner, but with empowered workstreams
    • Involves employees throughout the organization especially in front line roles
    • Uses early involvement of selected outside stakeholders
    • Has rigorous planning and tracking, but uses wisdom to overrule and change
  • Most strategies need some degree of reorganization to reach new goals and create the needed change management drive – but remember a reorganization is not a strategy 
  • Strategy communication is not a PowerPoint presentation, but uses multiple channels and regular interactions and is driven by behavior at all levels (walk the talk)
  • It is not possible to communicate too much but remember at least half of communication is listening!

Want to learn more or discuss your situation contact peter.gommers@peter4strategy.com