The Importance of Strategy Execution

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree,and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”—Abraham Lincoln

Most organizations undertaking strategic change – regardless of what drives it – a disconnect often exists between those responsible for planning and those responsible for execution. A recent Harvard Business Review article – Why Strategy Execution Unravels – And What to Do About It (Stull, Homkes, Stull, HBR March 2015, p 58) – makes several important observations:

  • No Gantt Chart survives contact with reality,
  • Strategic objectives are disconnected from strategy,
  • Communication does not equal Understanding,
  • Only 55% of middle managers can name one of their company’s top 5 priorities…and that drops to 16% for front line supervisors and team leaders, and
  • Only 9% of managers feel they can rely on commitments from other functions all the time, 50% some of the time.

This all suggests that:

  • To say is not to do,
  • Good project management by itself cannot yield success,
  • Concomitant efforts to set and communicate clear goals and objectives are imperative, and
  • Good execution is about seizing opportunities and integrating them into the plan.

Importantly, speed of implementation can positively affect results. Initiative champions and leaders should rapidly define accountabilities and engage early with those responsible for, and affected by, changes in direction, process, and organization. PMG Consulting assists management plan and facilitate execution activities.