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The Elements of Strong Strategy Execution




Companies usually fill strategy and planning roles with “thinkers” or consultants. A strong strategy is, of course, valuable and desirable.


However, a strategy is only as strong as its execution.


How well a strategy is implemented is what sets great enterprises apart, separating the wheat from the chaff. Where strategy is the long-range plan, it only works if you deliver on the short-range commitments, the sum of which is the culmination of successful strategy execution.


Successful execution of strategy requires a measure of discipline and timeliness, in addition to internal checks and balances to ensure that things are still headed towards the right goalposts. It is, for all practical purposes, a holistic and ongoing process, with learnings from prior strategies and their execution journeys being applied to strategising down the line.


According to Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy, authors of the book Execution: The Discipline Of Getting Things Done, “Execution is a specific set of behaviours and techniques that companies need to master in order to have a competitive advantage. It’s a discipline of its own.”


What are the elements of strong strategy execution?


The journey from planning to completion of execution according to plan is often not an easy one. However, if these measures are taken, it can be a successful one.


1. Strategic planning

2. Communication

3. Goal-setting

4. Tracking and reports

5. Performance management

6. Compensation and rewards


Strategic planning starts from the proverbial drawing board trying to envision the goals and brainstorming the ways to get there, then breaking it down into manageable, quantifiable steps. It involves assigning metrics that will enable tracking its progress once deployed.


A well-structured Communications policy forms the nerve centre of execution of a strategy. It is best to incorporate a communications plan at the strategising stage, the frequency of meetings, the modes of disseminating information, and so on.


As Chuck Martin, IBM’s former vice president sums it up,

“The result of bad communication is a disconnection between strategy and execution.”

Communication should be clear across the various departments and the personnel involved in the planning as well as execution. To some extent, communication is linked to the company culture, therefore, it thrives in an atmosphere of innovation, transparency, and collaboration.


Goal-setting applies not only to the broader goals but also smaller, more tangible goals that make up successful execution. The latter works only when every cog in the wheel, so to speak, every employee understands not only the broader goals of the company/enterprise but also their individual goals, individual contribution, that drives the project towards completion.


The formats for project tracking and reports should be standardised across the board for clarity and consumption at various levels. Key figures or data should be available via an easily accessible dashboard to save time and keep everyone on the same page. However, sometimes along the path to execution, events may cause goals to be revised. This should be understood and tweaks made to the master plan along the way.


Performance management is not limited to what HR does! Every department must track its own performance, whether its goals and deployment steps help and not hinder the overall strategic plan. At an employee level, it must track contribution, applaud achievement, and assign rewards in addition to fair compensation.


Compensation and rewards should be linked to company performance. Rewards can be more than financial; it can mean perks, travel, better opportunities for growth. Rewards should not be arbitrary: they should be linked to high-output employee contributions towards the successful execution of strategy.


Last but not the least, successful execution must involve and energise personnel towards a common purpose!


Which of these elements of execution are you doing well, and which ones need more attention? Use the rest of this month, and the beginning of 2021, to fix these areas and pave the way for strong execution.


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