Connecting a company’s strategy to its execution is critical to achieving business goals. If there isn’t a strong correlation between the two, the company runs the risk of wasting time, effort, and money on projects that will never lead to the desired results.

A recent Gartner study indicates that about 40% of leaders say their company’s top managers are not aligned in the execution of strategy. Surveys conducted in previous years also showed that slow strategy execution is a major problem, often due to a lack of visibility and control, a short-term “firefighting” mentality, and employee fatigue from change. The data is alarming.

Let’s lay the groundwork, talking about execution means carrying out the necessary actions aimed at meeting defined objectives. Or what in business terms we could summarize in something apparently simple: putting an idea into action. In practical terms, this means turning strategic initiatives laid out in a plan into specific actions to be carried out within a defined time frame. According to the executives, the real moment of truth lies in the execution of the strategy.

Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, in Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done,” put forward a simplified view and defend execution as a discipline or “systematic way of exposing reality and acting on it.” They explain that the heart of implementation lies in three fundamental elements:

    1. People
    2. Strategy
    3. Operations

Maybe the concepts are clear, but putting them into practice is not so clear. The most emblematic companies – such as Apple, Amazon, IKEA, Starbucks – have been able to closely link strategy and execution by creating distinctive and complex capabilities that distinguish them, and apply them to all the products and services in their portfolio. These capabilities combine all elements of execution—technology, human skills, processes, and organizational structures—to deliver your company’s chosen value proposition.

How do you achieve this on a day-to-day basis? How do you get strategists and executioners to work together effectively?

What are the steps for execution to lead to the success of a strategy?

  1. Clarifying the strategy

    The strategy must be completely defined, separating and organizing the different milestones and objectives, identifying each initiative, those responsible for carrying it out, the expected times… It should include a clear model that helps the Organization understand where the strategy sits in the overall framework, differentiating it from what we might simply call operational improvements. Beyond pursuing strict growth, you will better achieve goals by staying true to the business or brand value proposition. In the same way, it must correspond to the reality of the Organization in terms of its economic, human and technological capacities, prioritizing the necessary investments and resources.

  2. Analyze the data

    Companies must be able to identify and combine multiple sources, but they must all converge in their analysis and in the sharing in a joint meeting with the possible departments involved in the execution of the strategy. It is important to check if each group leader has the right information. The goal is not to achieve as much data as possible, but to make it possible to anticipate customer needs by analyzing this data. On the other hand, management needs sufficient conviction to transform the organization so that the data and models developed really serve to obtain better decisions.

  3. Connect all participants

    Once the leaders of each area have been identified, with the greatest capacity to influence their teams and who should ensure the necessary momentum in execution, it is important to converge the strategy with the corporate culture. This will make it easier to make each participant feel that they play an important role in achieving the end goal. It should be borne in mind that the way of thinking of the team that has developed the strategy with respect to the team that is going to carry it out is usually different. The former focus more on ideas and connections, the latter on processes and actions. From the beginning, it will be necessary to bridge this gap by conceiving work as something collaborative and not individualized.

  4. Choosing Investments

    Having prioritized each of the steps, each of the investments must respond to the fulfillment of the overall strategy. From a functional point of view, it should cover each of the key areas resulting from the analysis of the information. The selection of the best investment alternative must follow the criterion of maximizing the value of the company and for this it will be essential to use the most appropriate financial evaluation instruments in each case.

  5. Evaluate the strategy

    The last and most important step is to make sure you’re doing things right. Strategies often represent long-term processes, involving many factors and involving diverse people. Regular monitoring of results, based on appropriate indicators or KPIs that facilitate the understanding of how the strategy is being developed, is essential to provide a critical view of the progress made. In these measurements, it will be possible to detect possible opportunities that have arisen over time, in addition to minimizing the effect of the weaknesses detected.

Execution is a key process for the success of any strategy. Implementing a method ensures that the strategy will be fully and consistently transferred to all the agents involved, resulting in a focused, coordinated action with the most appropriate synergies. Without careful planning, strategic objectives will not be achieved, however, developing this vision still represents a great challenge for Management.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward