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Strategy execution is all you need



“Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely, and the likely definite” said Robert Half. Many a CEO have lost their plush jobs because they failed to steer their companies towards success even though they had crafted very beautiful strategies. Having a good strategy is half the job. You still need to implement it. Many executives pay so much attention to the crafting of the strategy but they fail to pay similar attention to the execution thereof. They think strategy implementation is for other people and they would rather concentrate on other more important assignments. Business books are full of stories of companies that have failed to achieve what they had promised in their strategic plans. Various reasons have been given for such debacles. One might wonder why a very good strategy fails. The most important point to note is that success depends on execution. Having a good strategy is part of the success equation but however, the other part of the equation is execution which however always proves to be the hardest. When drafting a strategic plan, you need to plan with the execution in mind.

Executives should ensure that preparation of a strategy is inclusive. You should bring along the influential employees into the planning process, not just executive team members. These employees will contribute meaningfully to the strategy, and they will ensure that the organisation engages with the strategy. This ensures buy-in to the strategy. Some of the best ideas will come from within the organisation and not from the executive team.

When preparing a strategy we tend to leave out the details and hope someone will sort out this mess. There is a saying that says “the devil is in the detail.” If you fail to sort out the details at the outset, you will fail to execute the strategy effectively. When it comes to execution and achieving strategic goals, the details of execution tactics are just as critical as the strategy. Detailed planning involves breaking down strategic goals into smaller parts which are far easier to implement. It’s therefore very critical to deconstruct complex goals into smaller groupings of related tasks which makes execution easier.

The implementation of a strategy is done in a setting of a deep rooted organisation culture-the way things are done in that company. It is therefore very important that the current culture is taken cognisance of. Strategic execution cannot be planned without consideration of the organization’s culture. The process of strategy implementation is affected not only by organizational structure, but also by the values and social customs of the organization’s culture. A wrong culture on a good strategy will break the strategy.
Someone needs to be accountable for the tasks that will be done in the strategic plan. You need to have an actionable plan that considers the people that are required to bring the plan to fruition. An inherent lack of accountability in the planning process leads to problems and sometimes complete failures in execution.

Goals should be very clear, without any ambiguity. Once there is ambiguity in the strategic goals, it leads to confusion and failure in execution. The language used to state goals should be clear. Strategic goals must therefore be carefully constructed and need to be crisp and well understood and they should be SMART-i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-abound.
There is need to prioritise the goals so that focus is on important ones. Every goal cannot be top priority. Not prioritising the goals is a setup for failure. Organizations don’t have the energy or focus to take on too many goals at once. We must therefore set priorities that address the criticality of each goal relative to others.

An organisation should pay attention to the business environment. The company should be nimble and be able to adapt as the market conditions change. Failure to be flexible will prove disastrous for the organisation.
Executives should be fully committed to the strategic plan and should appreciate that the plan will improve the organisation. Some executives prepare a plan but leave it on the shelf and never refer to it. This is just as good as a failed strategy.
Paying attention to the above issues will ensure success of your strategy. A strategy, even a great one, doesn’t implement itself. Companies should pay attention to strategy execution.

  • Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Consultant of Shekina Consulting (Pty) Ltd and provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, corporate governance, preparation of business plans, tender documents and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations. For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts:, call on +266 58881062 or WhatsApp +266 62110062 .

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