Having Trouble with Strategy Execution?

As it appeared in the Daily Nation on April 16th 2019
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu

Many organizations spend time and money selecting the best strategies for their organizations. They identify which customers they will target, what products and services they will provide, how they will manage their operations, the culture they will create, how they will recruit, develop, and organize their people and much more. Some go ahead and develop a detailed action plan with timelines, lead persons and resource requirements. Unfortunately, most organizations fail to put into action what they set out to do; they fail to turn their strategy into action. As a result, they fall short of their desired results. Why do so many organizations have trouble executing their strategies?

Over the last 10 years, I have supported several diverse organization in determining their strategic direction. I have also been involved in measuring the progress made over time. In all these engagements, the complexity of strategy execution has been clear. Execution is at the epicentre of a successful strategy. However, even the best strategies are not able to execute themselves. In most organizations, execution seems to be the weakest link in the strategy process with majority of strategies failing at execution. It is therefore not enough to identify the best strategies; organization must question their ability to execute their chosen strategies. Does your organization have what it takes to execute the identified strategies?

Strategy execution plays a critical role in driving organizational performance. To achieve their desired results, organizations need to rethink the execution process as a whole. Execution traverses every corner of an organisation. As opposed to planning, execution is hands-on; it does not happen in the boardroom or at workshops. In addition, it involves everyone in the organization and it is never-ending. It has been very evident that delayed staff involvement in the strategy process and their lack of understanding of the bigger picture derails the execution process. As such, staff to need to be involved early enough. I believe that staff need to feel part and parcel of determining their organization’s future. Making staff feel that they are part of the strategy decisions drives their buy-in making execution easier. When staff are not involved, the change characteristic of execution faces resistance derailing the process. How involved are your staff in the strategy process? Do you gather input from staff as you determine the future of your organization?

Another key hindrance to strategy execution is resourcing. It is impossible to execute strategy without resources. Most items on our action plans require resourcing but adequate resources are not always allocated in a timely manner. Smart companies know that it is not enough to identify a great strategy. Strategies must be supported with the both financial and non-financial resources. Once strategies are identified, required resource should be determined and a budget drawn. Allocation should follow as per the priority areas. Unfortunately, most times we plan without thinking through our ability to provide the resources required or make resource allocation a political process. Are your strategies supported with adequate resources?

Smart companies should not allow weak execution to undermine the potential of their good strategies. If you are having trouble with execution, take time to rethink the overall strategy process, involve the team and make provision for adequate resources.

Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy

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