If you have an awesome strategy but stink at execution, your results will suffer. If you have no strategy at all, you’ll be chasing your tail and wasting a lot of time with little long-term impact. In your strategy execution process , if you have a reasonable strategy, decent execution capabilities, and a thorough way to monitor and adjust you might just win every time.
Your company’s strategy is the big-picture plan for you to win at the game you’re playing. For starts, your strategy should be one that aligns with your company’s purpose. If you’re not clear what your company’s purpose, vision, and mission are then stop and sort these out right away!
The point is for you to get closer to your long-term vision by following what your strategy says you should do. You want to define some specific goals for your business and itemize some specific improvement priorities within your strategy. From there you will define metrics for each of the initiatives and set monthly targets to measure progress.
This next part is important so pay close attention… Declare a clear owner that is accountable for each metric. Then, create action plans for achieving each metric to hit the monthly targets.
Your strategy is the collection of all the above, described in a way that your team is super clear about what they are to be doing toward your company’s long-term success. It is also important that your teams are aligned and working together toward the strategic goals you have set.
Execution is all about implementing the action plans you’ve described as the way you achieve your strategic goals. Action plans could include actions that are quick decisions, individual assignments, where someone as a resource simply needs to complete some tasks very quickly. You might introduce kaizen events or longer duration cross-functional project teams to implement bigger, more complicated elements that will move you forward as part of your strategy.
You also want to become adept at solving problems. The truth is, things rarely go as planned. Remember, at the moment when you created your action plans they were valid for those current conditions, but things will certainly change within your business by the time you get into implementing. For example, you may have supplier challenges, new customer demands that were unforeseen, employee issues, quality challenges, or other things that get in the way that you need to deal with in order to execute your actions plans, as described as you’ve written them.
Execution is also about making priority decisions because often times, frankly, there’s just too much to do for the resources that you have on your team! So it’s critical to make sure that your team is focusing on those most important things to do at every point in time. That also means you have to separate out the daily work tasks that need to be completed as part of your normal jobs and carve out time to focus on those strategic initiatives. Execution, therefore, might require you to move resources around to hammer away on those most important priorities.
Ultimately, execution is about getting results that matter.
The intersection of Strategy and Execution
Executing your strategy is what creates results that matter for your long-term success. The magic to make sure you’re on track and enable course correction is the progress review session.
You want to hold progress review sessions regularly, at least monthly but in some cases weekly or bi-weekly. Bring in your accountable metric owners to share their progress versus the targets for which they’re accountable. Also, review action plans to confirm that the action steps are on track, versus what you describe them to be.
Your progress review session is an opportunity to express honestly how things are going. The accountable metric owners can highlight where their teams need help or if they are off track. This is a chance for the management team to reemphasize the priorities and hold people accountable. It’s also the right forum to initiate problem solving activity. In those cases where actual results are not meeting the targets as you had hoped, it’s important to kick into problem-solving mode to figure out what needs to be done to get back on track.
At the progress review session, your management team can make decisions about priorities, resources, and ultimately about making sure that the right actions take place in order to achieve the strategy and strategic goals. Results matter, so make sure that you’re making the progress you need to achieve your strategic goals.
Is your process broken?
Now it’s time for you to review to see where your process breaks down. If you’re not getting the results that you want, there’s an opportunity for you to improve your strategy or execution processes and reset your teams’ focus to make sure you’re on track.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How solid is your strategy?
- How confident are you that you could execute your strategy and get the results you want?
- How certain are you that you will achieve your long-term vision?
- How well do you typically execute your action plans?
- How detailed are your actions plans and how confident are you that your action plans, when executed, will deliver the results you’re after?
- How often do you get people together to review their progress?
- How confident are you in your team’s ability to solve problems as they come up on a day-to-day basis?
- How do you encourage your team to stay on track?
- How often to you adjust plans and redefine priorities as a senior team?
Review your honest answers to these questions and see what changes you might want to make so that your strategy and execution capability constantly improves. Do this well and notice your team can knock it out of the park every time!