Implementing Your Strategic Plan: Merging Strategy and Execution We publish numerous articles on corporate strategy and execution that are based on decades of consulting experience and research in hopes that business leaders can learn from what other organizations are doing well and poorly. The extent to which businesses are positioned to execute on strategies once plans are developed is directly linked to the process followed and the management disciplines applied to governing strategy implementation. The following articles where selected as recommended reading for business executives interested in improving upon corporate strategy execution. Each of these articles explore critical facets of strategic plan implementation – identifying common root causes of failure and offering solid and actionable steps to overcome challenges in execution. We hope that you will find value in reading each of these article choices. Corporate Strategy: The “Yin and Yang” Duality In Strategic Planning Summary: In the past we’ve talked about addressing risks, assumptions and impediments during strategic planning, but what about current critical business issues? Should those be solved outside the process of strategic planning or be brought into the strategic loop of business forethought? Read: Corporate Strategy: The “Yin and Yang” Duality In Strategic Planning Managing Opposition To Strategy Within The Executive Ranks Summary: The most fortunate of business executive’s possess a clear vision for their organization’s developmental journey. They are tuned into the business strategy and know what milestones they expect to see; holding predictions related to how long each should likely take to be reached. The top executive is literally in the driver’s seat, controlling the vehicle which is their organization. But what about the executives in the passenger seats? Will they be along for the full journey? Read: Managing Opposition To Strategy Within The Executive Ranks Opportunities Multiply As They Are Seized: Achieving Clarity & Accountability In Strategic Planning Summary: Strategy is about surveying the limited resources available to you and determining how to use them to your advantage. You must analyze the landscape, searching for advantageous use of everything at your disposal while juxtaposing allocation of those precious resources with the productivity of your business, then calculate the risk tolerance for investment. It is historical record that limited supplies in General Patton’s hands during WWII resulted in far greater battlefield success than the same supplies in the hands of lesser generals. Why? Two characteristics defined Patton’s style and approach: clarity in purpose and communication, coupled with absolute accountability. Certainly we can see how the term strategy translates so well into the business world where we are maneuvering our companies to compete in the marketplace, but have we lost the level of clarity and accountability that underscored strategy in its military usage? Has business strategy been softened from its military ancestry? Read: Opportunities Multiply As They Are Seized: Achieving Clarity & Accountability In Strategic Planning Eight Critical Success Factors For Improving Strategy Execution – 4 Part Series Summary: Improving strategy execution is at the top of the list of important issues for most corporate executives, followed by concerns about actually having a sound strategy. When strategic planning is done well, with a mature and robust process that guides the effort to ensure completeness – the outcomes can be powerful and position an organization to thrive and sometimes even dominate the competition. Yet only a small percentage of organizations operate with mature planning models that yield complete and comprehensive strategic plans addressing alignment to key dimensions of the business. Not surprisingly, even fewer organizations have mastered the art of fully and successfully executing corporate strategic plans. With successful strategy outcomes continuing to be an elusive prize sought by so many corporate leaders, this four-part article series is focused on exploring eight critical success factors related to improving strategy execution. Read: Eight Critical Success Factors For Improving Strategy Execution – Part 1 of 4 Strategy Execution: Why Strategic Plans Fail To Be Implemented Summary: Why do so many organizations fail at strategy implementation? The quality of an organization’s strategic plan is not the primary determinant of success in goal achievement. No, the primary factor is that success hinges on execution. This article examines some of the most common root causes of organizations and their leaders to miss the mark on strategic implementation. Read: Strategy Execution: Why Strategic Plans Fail To Be Implemented Making Execution Happen: The 10 Essentials of Operational Planning Summary: Operational planning may not be the sexiest part of corporate strategic planning, but it is the phase that really counts the most. Second to actually having a strategy, “operationalizing” it in the business is at the top of the hierarchy of importance. Given its importance, understanding how to do operational planning and actually making sure it gets done is well worth the time and effort. This article looks at operational planning in terms of 10 essential steps that businesses should follow to enact execution of their strategies. If followed, these steps will dramatically improve strategy execution in any organization. Read: Making Execution Happen: The 10 Essentials of Operational Planning Defining The Office of Strategy Management Summary: Many organizations do an adequate job strategic planning, only to see the effort go to waste as execution languishes – sometimes due to poor project management, lack of initiative ownership / accountability and political turf wars occurring within the business. Strategy governance is the secret weapon to combat such obstacles, but even then the approach taken with strategic plan oversight distinguishes the outcomes a great deal. Governance disconnected from business operations usually results in a powerless reporting function that does not help improve upon strategy execution. For a strategy governance organization to produce better than average results in execution, it requires the function to be well-integrated within the business and exist in a culture of accountability. It must offer process sophistication, planning maturity and have the authority to act. The best practice for closing that gap between strategy and execution is the establishment of a corporate-level Office of Strategy Management (OSM) – responsible for overseeing all strategy-related activities ranging from formulation to execution. This article describes such an office and examines role, function and benefit to an organization. Read: Defining The Office of Strategy Management No Pain, No Gain: Strategic Planning Isn’t For Wimps Summary: It is hard to think and act strategically in the face of daily operational pressures, yet it is the daily actions of business leaders that sums to the results they must produce and the transformations they must lead. Acting strategically requires strategic muscle and business stamina. Businesses build strategic muscle by developing upon their strengths (increasing capability) and fortifying in their weak areas (increasing capacity) through strategic planning. Yes, it is rigorous work. Organizations new to the discipline find it difficult and can get discouraged early on; sometimes wondering if the effort they are expending will be worth the payoff. Of course, most of us already know that performing strategic planning is well worth it, but for the naysayers and doubters out there, this article spells out the benefits. Read: No Pain, No Gain: Strategic Planning Isn’t For Wimps Employee Engagement In Strategy: Execution Won’t Succeed Without It Summary: When working with organizations to develop strategy and help them implement strategic plans, it inevitably becomes a challenge to get executive management to open up their closed group and engage the rest of their organization with the planning process. Usually CEOs and their top-ranking executive team members feel that they are doing well at employee involvement, when in fact they are doing poorly…even within their own small group. Failing to embrace that strategic planning is a team sport devalues the outcome. This article addresses the challenge businesses face in engaging their employees in strategy and how crucial that engagement is when they attempt to execute their strategic plan. Read: Employee Engagement In Strategy: Execution Won’t Succeed Without It Research Findings: Why Strategies Miss The Mark In Execution Summary: Good strategies suffer bad endings when execution falters. Understanding why this happens is key to improvement in business performance and survival for CEOs. The Strategy Institute for Thought Leadership (SITL) is the research arm of Method Frameworks, surveying and interviewing top executives from leading companies around the world to consolidate meaningful analysis for businesses. Over the past 18 months, SITL collected data from a sample of more than 5,000 executives, managers and planning practitioners as an ongoing part of our research program. Our research is conducted in hopes that business leaders can learn from what other organizations are doing well and poorly. In this article, some interesting results from this research are shared and interpreted related to strategy and execution. Read: Research Findings: Why Strategies Miss The Mark In Execution *** Resources for Taking Action Complimentary Strategic Planning Article Compilations and PDFs: – Complimentary access: Strategic Planning Monthly Archive – Complimentary access: Strategic Planning Articles Library – Complimentary access: Strategic Planning White Paper PDF Downloads March 23, 2013 by Joe Evans 0 comments 118 viewson Growth & Strategy Share this post Facebook Twitter Google plus Linkedin Mail this article Print this article Next: Sustainable Innovation Metrics Previous: The Power of Appreciation: Who Could You See Differently? What Could You Celebrate?