Balancing Act: Strategic planning and strategy execution

 

Every CEO must balance strategic planning with strategy execution. That’s nothing new, but research shows most leaders can’t do both. How do you counterbalance an area of strength when you’re lacking essential skills in an equally important key discipline? It might be easier than you think. 

 

A 2013 survey from Strategy&, a PwC company, asked 720 executives about the main challenges their companies face in strategy development. The top two problems reported were:

 

  • 29% said “having too many strategic initiatives”

  • 27% said “focusing too much on short-term performance improvement and too little on what will create long-term success”.

 

The problems become more critical when you consider another key finding from the report. Just over a third of the respondents (36%) said the top leadership in their companies was effective at both strategy development and strategy execution, even while acknowledging having both strongly relates to company performance. 

 

Why balance is so critical to long-term business success

Either way you look at it, a leader who is good at strategic planning but lacking in strategy execution is not going to achieve success at expected levels. The reverse is also true: focusing too much on the short term does not create long-term success. 

 

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review makes the point that success is not a matter of strategy vs execution, but strategy and execution working together. “How New CEOs Can Balance Strategy and Execution warns against a dangerous lack of alignment when a business leader is only focused on one side of the equation but not both. 

 

4 leadership traps to avoid when it comes to strategy

This lack of alignment between strategic planning and strategy execution causes four kinds of problems for CEOs and business owners.

 

  1. Not realizing there’s an execution problem in their businesses. Without the necessary tools in place, CEOs may not be able to tell why things are working or not working. This is most obvious when CEOs are new to the business.

  2. Making the wrong decisions about their team. Filling the team with people who think like they do often leads to a lack of diversity in skills.   

  3. Neglecting the execution side of the business. CEOs with a strong interest in future growth may neglect the importance of strategic execution or assume the key people driving execution (i.e., business development staff, customers, suppliers) will look after the business for them. 

  4. Failing to develop an implementation plan while maintaining execution excellence. Without a clearly defined plan, the strategy never becomes fully operational because it’s too complex or lacks buy-in from staff who believe it’s not built to help them do their jobs. 

 

How StrategyX helps leaders avoid failure

The only thing surprising about the Strategy& survey results is the problem has been going on for so long and continues to be a normal part of business. 

  • CEOs and business owners who want to achieve growth often end up working longer hours reacting to problems instead of being focused on their strategic plan. 

  • Leaders who neglect to create the strategic plan in the first place never experience the full potential of the business. 

When the two sides of strategic planning and strategy execution are out of balance, businesses fail. 

 

That’s why StrategyX was invented, to ensure CEOs and business owners have everything they need to effectively plan their strategy and then execute their strategy using a tool that’s been designed for this purpose. The StrategyX platform has been created to put you on the path to success to ensure everyone in your organization is aligned and focused on the goals required to exceed expectations. 


If you’d like to know more about how StrategyX can help you find the right balance in your business, get in touch with us.