The Strategy-Execution Gap
We explored the problem, and found that most companies invest exclusively in process enhancements to bridge this gap. However, the ‘people’ side of strategy execution (which often lies neglected) also needs urgent attention.
Based on our experience of working with over 300 companies of varying size and complexity – we find that the successful execution of any strategic initiative rests on these 3 pillars:
Any major strategic initiative involves multiple departments and, at times, requires significant coordination and hand-offs across these departments, or across distinct business units. Successful strategy execution requires managers in these departments to collaborate actively and align their decisions, resources and efforts to further the company’s interests. They need to be able to think strategically and ‘get’ why their leadership wants to implement any particular strategic maneuver.
Specifically, they need to
- Break functional silos
- Get a CEO’s perspective of business
- Agree on strategic priorities
A key concern for CXOs is that managers are not willing to take ownership of a project, or go even an inch beyond their job description to get things done. On the other side, those ‘appointed’ as owners of drivers of strategic initiatives often face resource conflicts, and a lack of role clarity.
It is important for key managers to spend time facing the challenges that the company’s top management faces (‘in their shoes’, so to speak). Once they experience the benefits, and realize the challenges of executing strategy, ownership will follow.
For your managers to take ownership, they need to understand
- Bottom-line impact of strategic initiatives
- Role clarity and decision rights
- Going beyond day-to-day issues
Managers face significant challenges in strategy execution – which are often bigger and more complex than the day-to-day exigencies they deal with. Conventional wisdom would argue that they need a full range of new capabilities and tools to tackle these challenges. However, just a few targeted, high-leverage competencies can help them deliver disproportionate, measurable results in executing strategic initiatives.
Key competencies needed
- Business and financial acumen
- Cross-functional decision making
- Client-side view and competitor dynamics