Intarnational issues in strategy implementation
Some obstacles to effective execution
The road to effective strategy execution is full of potholes and dangers. What are some of them?
* Planning and execution are interdependent.
Strategy formulation and implementation are separate, distinguishable parts of the strategic management process. Logically, implementation follows formulation; one cannot implement something until that something exists. But formulation and implementation are also interdependent, part of an overall process of planning-executing-adapting. This interdependence suggests that overlap between planners and “doers” improves the probability of execution success. Not ...view middle of the document...
* Effective execution involves managers across all hierarchical levels.
Another problem is that some top-level managers believe strategy implementation is “below them,” something best left to lower-level employees. This view holds that one group of managers does innovative, challenging work (planning), and then “hands off the ball” to lower-levels for execution. If things go awry, the problem is placed squarely at the feet of the “doers,” who somehow couldn’t implement a perfectly sound and viable plan.
This view is wrong. It blames the wrong people for execution mishaps. The truth is that implementation demands ownership at all levels of management. From C-level managers on down, people must commit to and own the processes and actions central to effective execution. The execution tasks, jobs, and responsibilities vary across levels, but they all are interdependent and important. Execution is a key responsibility of all managers, not something that “others” do or worry about.
* Managing change is difficult.
Execution often involves change—in structure, incentives, controls, people, objectives, responsibilities. As we know, change can be threatening. The importance of managing change well is clearly important for effective strategy implementation. The inability to manage change and reduce resistance to new implementation decisions or actions can spell disaster for execution efforts.
* Other execution-related problems.
My research uncovered other problems that challenge strategy implementation. They include responsibility and accountability for execution activities and decisions that are not clear; poor knowledge sharing among key functions or divisions; dysfunctional incentives; inadequate coordination; poor or vague strategy; and not having guidelines or a model to shape execution activities and decisions. Space limitations prevent a complete discussion of how to overcome all obstacles to strategy execution. Let’s focus, then, on some of the decisions or actions that are critical to making strategy work.
Making strategy work
Table 1 summarizes what I see as important issues in making strategy work. Let’s consider some of them.
Table 1: Critical Issues in Making Strategy Work
* Having an Implementation Model to Guide Execution Thoughts and Actions
* Remembering that Sound Strategy Comes First
* Structure is Important to Successful Implementation
* Care Must be Taken to Translate Strategic Objectives into Short-term Operating Metrics
* Clear Responsibility and Accountability are a Must for Effective Execution
* Reward the Right Things—Use Incentives to Support Execution Processes and Outcomes
* Ensure the Development of Appropriate Capabilities and Managerial Skills to Make Strategy Work
* Focus on Managing Change
Use a logical approach to execution.
Managers need and benefit from a logical model to guide execution decisions and actions. Without guidelines, execution becomes a labyrinth....