Execution versus strategy. Symbiosis is key!

It’s a scenario all too familiar in the consulting world: numerous ambitious strategy plans end up forgotten in a drawer, only to be pulled out, dusted off, and revamped before they can truly make a mark. The key takeaway? Execution needs to be an integral part of strategy development right from the beginning. This essay delves into how blending strategy development and execution ensures not just survival but thriving success in the competitive business landscape.

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

Involving the right people

Successful strategy execution begins by involving the right mix of people. It’s not just about having the best minds for creating the plan but also including those who will lead its communication and implementation. This approach ensures that the strategy resonates across all levels of the organization, from leadership to the frontline.

Setting the tone

Clear communication from top leadership about the strategy’s goals and the rationale behind it is vital. It’s about managing expectations without over-promising or glossing over the real constraints. Effective strategy communication involves a balance, ensuring transparency while timing messages to maximize impact both internally and externally. Additionally, involving external challengers and stakeholders – such as customers, suppliers, and partners – early in the process is crucial.

Building a foundation for agile adaptation

During the strategy formulation phase, it’s essential to:

  • Clearly articulate the vision and goals while allowing flexibility for agile adaptation to different scenarios.
  • Allocate resources judiciously, ensuring the core capabilities needed for the future are not compromised.
  • Foster a culture of ambassadors throughout the organization to champion the strategy.
  • Maintain visibility of the plan and progress, using tools like dashboards to foster a culture of accountability and open communication.

From planning to execution

Transitioning from plan to action is where the real challenge lies. Establishing a – partly – new organizational structure to support and drive the initiatives is crucial. Linking new efforts to existing processes helps ensure quick integration and prevents internal competition between old and new ways of working. Rigorous communication at multiple levels is key to mobilizing and empowering your ambassadors.

Reflections on implementation

From my own experience, the best implementation teams blend solid experience with fresh insights from new talent. Effective implementation involves creating a dedicated change organization that remains closely linked to normal operations. It should be CEO-owned but Steerco steered and led by a respected project owner with empowered workstreams, involving employees across the organization, especially those in frontline roles. Involving selected outside stakeholders early in the process is not just beneficial; it’s a necessity. Their perspectives can offer crucial insights and challenge internal assumptions, making the strategy more robust and adaptable. Lastly, while rigorous planning and tracking form the backbone of successful implementation, it’s the wisdom to know when to pivot that truly defines success. It’s about striking the right balance between sticking to the plan and adapting to the evolving landscape – a balance that requires both courage and wisdom.

The takeaway

A reorganization might be necessary to achieve new goals, but remember, reorganization itself is not a strategy. Strategy communication goes beyond PowerPoint presentations; it requires regular interactions and is driven by behavior at all levels. You can’t overcommunicate, but always remember, listening is half the battle.

Ready to transform your strategic vision into actionable success? 

Let’s dive deeper into creating a symbiotic relationship between strategy and execution that propels your business forward. Reach out to discuss how we can tailor these principles to your unique situation at Peter.gommers@peter4strategy.com or +31-6-53361249 and let’s explore how we can turn your ideas into market successes together.

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