Looking to improve your strategy execution? Discover the pillars of strategy execution, key examples, and top tips for success with our article.
Did you know that two out of three businesses fail to execute their strategic plans?
Somewhere between the planning session and completion, the execution phase can be the most difficult to attain. But it doesn't have to be that way for you and your team any longer.
If you're wondering what strategy execution is and how you can harness its power to finally reach your goals then you're in the right place. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to take your plans from paper to completion in no time.
What Is Strategy Execution?
Have you ever gone to a weekend retreat and spent hours coming up with the perfect mission statement for your organization?
Then, using that mission statement, outlined the perfect plan to grow your company over the next year to become a powerhouse within your industry?
And, if you said yes to these questions, what usually happened once you returned to the office on Monday morning? You were likely met with a barrage of phone calls and urgent emails that needed your attention.
This was probably followed by weeks of endless meetings and interruptions causing you to return to the next retreat only to realize no one else within your company made any progress on their goals either.
What happened here? This is the classic case of a lack of strategy execution. Strategy execution is the missing link between your well-laid and well-intentioned plans with meeting your goals and taking your business to the next level.
In short, strategy execution is the crucial step you must take after a planning session to ensure everyone on your team reaches the initiatives laid out at the beginning.
Strategy execution is when you take your high-level goals and vision statement and translate them into a working plan that everyone on your team can follow.
Why Strategy Execution Is Important
From large corporations to small startups, everyone loves a great retreat. It offers a chance to get away from the hustle of emails and meetings and allows everyone to focus on where they want to take the company in the coming year.
But, all too often, even the best plans never see the light of day due to poor execution.
When you have a working execution process you will see more results than ever before. Your company will find itself transforming your goals into action and reaching your goals.
Some other benefits you'll realize when you take the time to create an action plan for your strategies include:
- Better alignment of strategy with operations
- Give your team a roadmap to follow
- Increase engagement
- Decrease operating costs and increase profit
- Increase accountability and capacity
As you can see you can't afford to not take into account the importance of strategy execution. Unfortunately, while many managers and executives alike realize they have an execution problem, many are unsure how to change it.
Let's dive into that next.
Pillars of Strategy Execution
Just as you have a system for bringing your top products to market you must also have a system for bringing your next growth strategy to your business.
And this system is based on five key pillars that lay the foundation for any great strategic initiative.
If you're wondering how can your strategy execution be improved then you need to follow these five pillars when creating your plan.
1. Clarify Your Strategy
When it comes to strategic planning, clarity of the name of the game. This is the key first step you must take to ensure the successful execution of your plan.
Too many executives leave meetings, retreats, and other planning sessions with the assumption that their team will know what to do and will be able to make room in their schedule to accomplish the goals they set.
Unfortunately, this isn't true, and too many great plans haven't seen the light of day due to this faulty assumption. You must take the time to go a step further and bring clarity to your goals and plans.
Obstacles will come up and surprises will happen, you need to know what your contingency plan is and everyone on your team needs to know how and when to pivot.
Take the time to get crystal clear on what your customers want and what your current operational capacity is so you don't run into these surprises along the way.
Don't rely on what you think the market can handle or what your team can produce, gather the data and make sound decisions based on the clarity that comes from data-based, sound decisions.
2. Form Your Plan
Just as when you created your first business plan, your strategic plan needs to map out who will be responsible for which key areas of your strategic execution.
Determine what steps, tasks, and projects must be completed to reach your goals. Then take it a step further and decide who will be responsible for each of these steps and tasks ahead of time.
Finally, look at their current responsibilities and determine how you'll best support each member of your team to accomplish their designated areas of roles and functions.
When you don't take the time to create clear alignment between each of your stakeholder's roles with the goal at hand you will run into limited capacity and inability to execute your plans.
As mentioned in the benefits section, alignment between your goals and your execution allows your operations to flourish.
To do this, you need to take your plans one step further past simply writing out each task or project. You must also outline who is responsible for each step and how their role aligns with the task at hand.
3. Implement Project Management
When it comes to performance you need a system to manage when the actions in your strategy will happen. This comes through improved project management.
Change is never easy but if you keep doing things the way they've always been done then you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten.
That's why it's so important to manage the completion of your goals each step along the way. Don't simply assign a large goal to your team and walk away.
You must outline the specific role for each of your team members and what tasks they're responsible for.
Then take the time to bake accountability into your processes so you can ensure timely and successful completion of each action step.
Without an effective system for accountability and performance management, you'll find that months and years will pass without reaching your goals.
4. Create Cohesive Communication Channels
One key area you need to focus on when setting roles and establishing accountability is to create a cohesive two-way communication plan. Don't simply assign tasks and then walk away.
Keep the channels of communication open throughout the entire process so that you don't run into any surprises at the end of your next planning cycle.
There are many different ways to do create open communication on your team and you'll need to take a long look at your current situation to make the best choice.
Do you run a mostly remote team? If so, then digital communication in the form of Microsoft Teams or Slack may be the best choice for you.
Or, do you have a team that is on-site but scattered throughout the building or in various different departments? Then short stand-up meetings similar to the popular Scrum style may be the best option for you.
You can't grow when everyone is operating a silo, take the time to map out the best communication style for your team and follow up to ensure that they're making the most of it.
Regardless of what you choose, make your check-ins short and to the point. Ask where they are in the execution of their assigned tasks.
Then finish by asking what they need from you or what additional resources they need going forward to ensure successful completion of their project.
5. Increase Operational Capacity
Chances are your current operational capacity isn't enough to reach your goals or you would've met them already.
Take the time to dive deep into your current capabilities so you can identify where the bottlenecks are and how you can help your team reach their goals.
Sometimes you'll need to invest in new technology or machinery.
Other times the answer will lie in human capital and hiring new talent or promoting from within to ensure that your goals are met.
Finally, look at your current processes and systems, where can they be improved to increase efficiency and allow your team more time to work on strategy execution.
When you have clear goals, defined steps, and well-laid out processes then you'll find that increasing operational capacity comes organically.
However, when you skip the steps above you'll find that your team will be faced with various obstacles and bottlenecks at every step along the way to execute your strategy.
How to Successfully Execute Your Strategy
For too many executives, creating the plan is their last step in the process of growing their business. However, if you want to see the ultimate success then it needs to be your launching point, not your ending point.
You can create the best plan possible and hand it off to your team only to return in six months and find nothing has happened. Successful execution of your strategy takes dedication and commitment to the process to see the optimum results.
As the manager or executive, there are certain key functions that only you can do to ensure your strategy is properly implemented.
First, you'll build your team. Be sure to assign each step to a specific stakeholder to ensure that responsibility is clear and transparent. Second, you'll assign specific objectives and responsibilities to each member of your team.
Next, you'll work with your team to determine where any possible backlogs or obstacles might appear throughout the execution phase.
As the manager or team leader, it's your responsibility to allocate the necessary resources your team needs to successfully implement your plan of action.
Without this step, you'll likely find that you'll return to incomplete plans and excuses for not reaching your goals.
Finally, use your channels of communication to regularly check in with your team members and assess the progress being made.
Where are there possible opportunities for more growth or operational investments?
Continually track the progress that your team makes and see where you can tweak or improve that process for increased growth and crossing the finish line on time.
Examples of Strategy Execution
Similar to following a business plan template can simplify the process of creating your business plan, when you follow a successful example you'll find it easier to implement your own strategy effectively.
One great example of a company that used successful execution to grow its business is Best Buy. They saw what happened with one of their biggest competitors Circuit City and vowed not to let that happen to them.
Top executives knew they needed to compete with Amazon and grow their web presence and they set about to create a plan to do just that.
Emerging from the changing retail landscape and the depleted economy wasn't an easy task for Best Buy.
However, they use a strategic initiative to outline how they would remain competitive with Amazon while still remaining true to their mission statement.
Two key areas they focused on were improving customer experience and focusing more on online growth over expanding store locations.
First, they focused on giving customers the in-person experience an online-only store can't provide. They now offer experts in their store that will fix your laptop or suggest the best new phone for your needs.
Second, they embraced the customer demand for more online buying options instead of adding more stores.
In fact, they looked at stores that weren't producing adequately enough and closed them down in favor of focusing their growth more on online shopping and delivery options.
Follow this example to see where you can stand out from the competition and give your customers more of what they want.
Then take the time to analyze your current operational capacity and make the necessary investments where they provide the greatest value.
Finally, follow up and follow through on your plan to ensure optimal implementation.
Top Strategy Execution Tips
For all teams, large and small across all industries there are a few tips for success that everyone should follow for effective strategic execution. These tips include:
- Make the commitment
- Empower your team
- Measure and monitor
- Focus on collaboration
As the team leader, it's your responsibility to model each of these tips and give your team the tools to use them for their own success.
Finally, Implement Your Strategy Today
Unfortunately, strategy execution can be elusive to even the best of us. But when you work from a blueprint and follow the steps to success above then you're sure to finally see the big picture and better manage the many moving pieces today.
If you're ready to reach your goals and do it in half the time, then you need to work with an expert. You can't afford to miss your goals any longer.
Book your free demo here so you can start to see the level of results you always knew your team could achieve.