Copyright Interactive Design Labs 2005 - 2017
Strategy execution represents a disciplined and systematic process of directing and controlling actionable decisions and activities that make an implemented strategy work. It requires the effective interplay of cooperation between strategic management and operations management, in the context of the implemented strategy, and involves decisions in a large number of areas and at all levels in the organization.
Successful strategy execution needs a sound strategy, effective communication, leadership, and good-decision making skills to overcome the challenges that cause strategies to fail at execution. The factors underlying these challenges include:
All these factors are interdependent and influence each other and, to varying degrees, the success/failure of strategy execution resulting in organizational change. Because they 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 we need a systemic approach to understanding the influences of these factors on successful execution.
Strategy Execution Model and System
The strategy execution system is a social system defined by an execution model and execution system building blocks that support managers and provide the capacity to manage and control the influence/impact of those factors and challenges to successful execution. The building blocks comprise decision rights and norms, information flows design, culture and values, and governance mechanisms.
Understanding Factors Affecting Successful Strategy Execution
Organizations can increase their chances of successful strategy execution by developing execution capabilities and competencies to manage those factors that create execution challenges such as:
Complexity in the context of strategy execution refers to challenges to understanding an issue due to lack of information and lack of insight into the problem domain due to:
Uncertainty - This may derive from:
Decision Complexity - This may derive from: the inter-relationship among choices. For example, the strategic decision to enter a new market will require a major allocation of resources across different parts of the organization such as marketing, finance, operations, etc. This in turn will lead to the consideration of other strategic choices associated with the primary strategic decision, resulting in cascading decisions which is a source of complexity..
Social Complexity - This may derive from:
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.