If you have ever seen the “Changing of the Guard” at Buckingham Palace in London, you know that it is executed with detailed precision; all body parts moving in complete synchronicity. In spite of its great entertainment value, this popular ceremony is more than a global tourist attraction. It is part of a centuries’ old process that requires years of training, discipline, and focus.
As business leaders, wouldn’t we all love our companies to run with this same level of precision and finesse? While this may be an aspirational goal for some, the reality is that the business landscape isn't as permanent, flat, and relatively free of obstacles as the Buckingham Palace Yard. It requires a different set of skills to be successful. Asking your leadership team to behave the same way, following scripted and well-rehearsed moves, would be as fruitful as asking the palace guards to perform their ceremony in half the time, on roller blades, in the snow, with small children running amok.
Today's business leaders are faced with a pace and scale of change that is stretching corporate resources and capabilities; causing many companies to invest heavily in retooling their business models and corporate strategies. At Insight Experience, we have found that successful companies focus less on designing bullet-proof strategies and more on developing leadership capabilities that will enable them to successfully execute their strategies. Strategy execution is one of the most overlooked but important organizational capabilities that can help leaders and companies survive and thrive in times of change.
Are you developing your workforce and culture to execute your strategy with the same levels of precision and rigorous repetition as a “Changing of the Guard"? Experience tells us that leaders who follow this approach are frustrated that their strategies are not working for them. They may feel more like they are trying to keep a well-oiled child free of sand at the beach.
Developing your team's strategy execution capabilities will better position you to adapt to the changing marketplace by flexing your strategic muscle at every level of the organization. Successful strategy execution is about knowing how to understand and translate strategy to your teams, identifying and filling capability gaps both for today’s and tomorrow’s needs, setting goals and measuring progress against those goals. It is also about being agile enough to course correct where needed. Developing these skills will give you greater capacity to execute more fluidly and create the strategic synchronization you desire without grinding your entire organization to a halt.
Rather than chasing the perfect strategy or running your business like the Captain of the Buckingham Palace guard, empower your workforce to take ownership of the strategy execution process and you will find you are left feeling more penny-wise than pound-foolish.
Brad Peirce is a Consultant and Program Manager at Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich, immersive business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution