Goals. Objectives. KPIs. OKRs. Metrics. Success Factors. Vision. Mission. Purpose. And then there’s the elusive “Value Proposition.” Companies use these terms differently, and departments use them differently within the same company. Does this vocabulary matter? If it does matter, why?
Every manager must be able to take the strategy handed down from above (sometimes more clearly than others!) and make that strategy work for their teams. The Strategy Execution Cycle lays out an interconnected path for making that happen. First, a manager must Understand what the larger strategy is – the big picture and the larger goals. Based on that understanding, the manager must then Translate it in terms, metrics, and expectations that are meaningful to the team. Implementation of the strategy is the day to day work of the team, meeting customer needs, responding to the unexpected, and working toward the expectations set in the Translate stage. The Measure stage checks performance against those expectations, and the Adapt stage course corrects. But the stages cannot happen only linearly -- all of these stages happen multiple times over the course of any business’ regular operations.
Senior leaders know all too well the unrelenting demands on their time – from one-on-one meetings, to direct report meetings, to public speaking events, to strategy sessions, to finance sessions, to HR issues, to legal issues, to board meetings … the list goes on.
How often does the typical employee think about corporate strategy compared to the demands of day-to-day work? For some employees it’s as infrequent as an intermittent town hall meeting. While the necessary pivots many businesses had to manage as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic may have created opportunities for more frequent communication between employees and senior leaders, the demands of each workday can easily outshine the greater corporate strategy. Yet – the ultimate measure of success is whether a corporation achieves its strategic goals.
What is Strategy Execution? We’ve all heard the term strategy execution many times. It’s bandied about by management consultants and leadership gurus, but what exactly is meant by it? Let’s begin with a definition and then consider the skills and behaviors required to do it well.
Over the past fifteen years, I’ve led dozens of simulation-based workshops focused on executing strategy. I’ve learned much from the hundreds of leaders I’ve had the pleasure of teaching. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned – and one universal truth – that is common among the many companies with whom I’ve worked, it’s that there are “more good ideas than resources available to pursue them."
Strategic thinking is always important; it’s a critical foundation skill for effective leaders. But in crucible leadership moments like the present, it has outsized importance.