Copyright Interactive Design Labs 2005 - 2018
Strategy execution represents a disciplined and systematic process of directing and controlling actionable/decisive decisions and activities that make an implemented strategy work resulting in the transformation of the organization and its institutions to strengthen it, and lead to sustainable growth and improved performance. Strategy execution requires the effective interplay of cooperation between strategic management and operations management in combining deliberate and purposeful actions and as-needed reactions to unanticipated developments and fresh competitive pressures to realize the actual strategy.
Strategy is more than what managers have set out in advance and intend to do as part of some important strategic plan. New circumstances always emerge, whether important technological developments, rivals successful new products introductions, newly enacted government regulations and policies, etc., that create enough uncertainty about the future that makes it impossible for managers to plan every strategic action in advance and pursue their intended strategy without alteration. Strategies may fail at execution for a myriad of factors that influence effectiveness of planned actions (top-down) and as-needed adaptive reactions to unforseen conditions ("unplanned" bottom-up strategy responses) such as:
All these factors are interdependent and influence each other and, to varying degrees, the success/failure of strategy execution. Because the factors that influence execution success/failure are interdependent and their influences are non-deterministic, it is typically very difficult for managers to comprehend the contribution of these factors to successful outcomes of strategy execution. If an organization fails to pay proper attention to one of these factors, it can result in execution failure, therefore an organization needs a system and approach to support management in successful execution.
Discussion of Factors
This section discusses the factors that influence the success/failure of strategy execution.
Complexity in the context of strategy execution refers to challenges/obstacles to understanding an issue due to lack of information and lack of insight into the problem domain due to:
Poor Leadership Style
Poor leadership is manifested in the failure of leadership to clearly communicate the reasons for the new strategy and garner the appropriate support to create consensus and enthusiasm/motivation in order to overcome any pockets of doubt and resistance to change resulting from successful strategy execution. In addition, poor leadership can be manifested in failure of leadership to orchestrate the processes and major initiatives as well as coordination of management and staff in properly performing their tasks to accomplish work.
A strategy may be defined variously as an approach to overcoming an obstacle; or a response to a challenge. A bad strategy is a strategy that does not define an approach/means to respond to a challenge (opportunity/threat) or solve a known problem. It reflects an organization's failure to face the problem. A good strategy is a mixture of policy and action designed to surmount a challenge/problem.
Poor implementation may result in weak strategic assets that do not clode the strategic gap, and since execution takes place within the context of the implemented strategy successful execution is unlikely. Poor implementation may be manifested in:
Bad Strategic Decisions
Bad strategic decisions are strategic decisions whose outcomes result in business failure/decline. Bad decisions may result from incomplete or short-circuited decision processes.
Strategic decisions are among the main means through which management choices are actually realized. They are difficult or expensive to reverse because they substantially alter (and irrevocably so in the short run) the relationships between the decision makers' organization and customers, competitors, etc. The decision's outcomes are usually contingent on effects - the behavior of other actors affected by the decisions and outcomes. These recursive relationships between decisions, decision outcomes, and effects on other actors' behavior make strategic decisions messier and more complex than operations decisions.
Poor planning may lead to strategy execution failure resulting from: bad or unrealistic schedules for project team members resulting in waste of time and poor time management; lack of clear definition of strategy and project objectives; lack of budgetary controls leading to misuse of funds, etc.
I am a serial technology entrepreneur and computer scientist interested in model-driven analysis and evaluation of strategy, its formulation, implementation and execution, to better inform strategic decision-making, and improve organization performance and ensure sustainable growth.