Why is it so Important to Connect Strategy to Execution?
Connecting a company’s strategy to execution is vital to achieving the organization’s agility and transformation objectives. Without creating a strong connection between the two, an organization runs risk of wasting time, effort and money on projects that will never lead to the needed and expected outcomes. Especially during times of turbulence, like we are experiencing now, it is vital to keep the marriage between strategy and execution tightly in sync. This approach is essential to continuous adaptation and resiliency to a quickly evolving landscape.
Best Practices for Connecting to Strategy to Execution
Connecting strategy to execution is simply about creating a close, and bi-directional, link between an organization’s business goals and its execution activities. Since a strategy formulation greatly determines the implementation, a great strategy that is poorly executed is simply not a great strategy.
Successful approaches should include the following:
- Define clear goals for your change or transformation strategy
- Focus and prioritize on the most critical areas and processes within the business that will align to your goals
- Clearly communicate the strategy across the organization
- Collaborate and engage with employees and stakeholders, listening to feedback, and ensuring you have the right people and tools in place to support your efforts.
- Leverage your data wherever possible to provide insights to decisions
Communication is Key
An organization can take some simple, quick steps to begin this important process. First, ensure the organization’s strategy is visible and everyone responsible for execution is aware of it. This can’t be overstated. Executing a strategy relies on every person on the team understanding the goal and their personal role in the transformation. Without that, the strategy lead will be constantly working independently to try and deliver the value required. It is vitally important for everyone to understand the strategy as well as how their activities tie back to and support it. In other words, it’s all about communication, which leads to another step – feedback.
Feedback Loops are a Must
To foster change, it is important to listen to feedback and act on learnings. Feedback is important for several reasons. First, no one knows an organization’s activities better than the people responsible for carrying them out. As such, there is no one more qualified, or motivated, to provide feedback on how their activities support the organization than each and every employee.
Only once you start down the road of execution will you start to learn about the impact and validity of your strategies. It is crucial that you continuously learn and use your knowledge to adjust and optimize your strategy. You must be able to manage a virtuous circle of learning: as you execute, adjust your strategy based on your learning, then learn more and adjust more, and so on and so forth.
Give Freedom to Question the Strategy & Activities
Feedback and learning are more than just creating feedback loops to show how day-to-day activities support the strategy. Employees should be given the freedom to provide input and course corrections. This does not mean the strategy, or execution activities, will lose focus. Rather, this empowers employees to engage and provide constructive and insightful feedback as well as gaining a sense of ownership.
Why Don’t More Organizations Do it?
If all of this is so straightforward, then why do companies fail to accomplish this important connection? There are several reasons organizations don’t perform this important task, including not recognizing the importance or need to make the right connection between their strategy and their execution.
Another reason is organizations don’t have the tools, systems or processes to tie strategy and execution together in real or near-real time. All of which can lead to delayed decisions and/or creates a mismatch between the strategy and execution activities.
Focus on Making Connections
By focusing on connecting strategy to execution, ensuring the entire organization is aware of the strategy and understands their roles, giving the freedom to enact process improvement and providing feedback loops, an organization can ensure it remains relevant and doesn’t become stagnant.
I created BusinessOptix based on this entire premise. Many on the BusinessOptix team came from software automation backgrounds where, collectively, we saw many transformation efforts, software installations and millions of dollars wasted because of the failure to connect these pieces together. BusinessOptix fosters the collaboration, visibility, and connection between all parts of an organization’s DNA – people, process, and technology – to ensure the most optimal outcomes for change and agility.