Execution is the Key
In our professional life we hear three terms…
Success is the outcome, the organizations strive for…
Strategy is the plan for what the company should focus on to steer the company in right
‘Execution’ that actually makes it happen or actually gets it done.
Even with the best of strategic intentions, you will ultimately be judged by what you can
execute and deliver for your end-users.
Peter Thomson phrased, “Execution eats strategy for breakfast.” The phrase focuses on the importance of execution over strategy.
The argument goes something like this: Strategy is on paper whereas execution determines how things get done. Anyone can come up with a fancy strategy, but it’s much harder to build a winning team that gets things done. Moreover, a brilliant strategy without a great execution culture is ‘all hat and no cattle,’ while a company with a winning
execution culture can succeed even if its strategy is mediocre.
Taking charge Al Rajwani, the new CEO of P&G in India, is a US citizen of Indian origin. His roots are Gujarati, and “back in India, I am like a kid in a candy shop“, he said
during an interview with ET. His personal style is what he calls “management by walking
around“ -meeting consumers, distributors and employees as part of his on-boarding process at the company’s Mumbai headquarters. “What I tell my people is: one week at the office, one week out in the field, talking to shoppers, consumers, distributers getting a touch and feel … I am a big believer in execution excellence,“ he said.
Steps to Effective Execution:
Let me share the study & observation by John Spencer who is globally renowned business strategist, author and speaker. He has been teaching a class at the Wharton School of Business on the topic of “Strategic Thinking” for years and one of the critical aspects of that program is understanding that having the best strategy in the world is useless… if you cannot effectively execute it!
He typically gets 100 – 200 senior executives at that workshop and the consensus from all
of the past classes is that most organizations only execute about 10–15% of their strategy. WOW, if that number is accurate (and unfortunately I believe it is) – and YOUR organization is in that range — think of the lost revenues, profits, and market share. The numbers are potentially massive and should be a major wake-up call that this is a serious issue… and a HUGE opportunity.
Imagine what would happen if you could instill a strong culture of disciplined execution
across your entire organization. The rewards would be significant to say the least.
John has shared 9 steps for effective execution which are:
- Tie execution into the vision and values of the organization.
- Focus the organization on a few key strategies to execute.
- A guiding coalition of key leaders must demonstrate personal commitment to being living examples of disciplined execution.
- It is essential that all of the major strategies and objectives of the organization be
fully aligned. When priorities are confusing or at odds, it leads to failure.
- Create systems and processes to ensure repeatable success.
- Once you have established a focused strategy and identified key priorities for
execution, over-communicate the goals and priorities to be sure that the entire
organization is aligned and focused on the most important things.
- Be sure to give all of the training, support, resources and help necessary to allow
people to be successful in executing the key objectives.
- Expect the unexpected. Adjust and innovate continuously in response to the marketplace and the customer to ensure the organization is still focused on executing to the appropriate objectives.
- Shower people who are effective in execution with praise, rewards and recognition to demonstrate to the rest of the organization what behaviors are desired. Deal quickly and decisively with any person in the organization that is unwilling or unable to execute the key strategies.
I am sure the question around Strategy and Execution (one being more important than
other) will always be a great brainstorming.
But in essence both are complimentary to each other. Strategy and disciplined execution are NOT trade-offs. They are equally important, like the engine and wheels on a car. Leaders today have to manage and attend to both to succeed long-term.
In Summary, If strategy is deciding what to do, execution is all about making it happen. It’s the follow through. The main requirements for successful execution are:
1) clear goals for everyone in the organization, that are supportive of the overall
2) a means of measuring progress toward those goals on a regular basis; and
3) clear accountability for that progress.
Let’s make execution effective to achieve strategic advantage and success in the market.
I would like to explore more into Making Strategy Work next and share with you all soon.