What matters most to us in our consultancy work is truly understanding what matters most to you.

As we listen to the challenges, frustrations, and opportunities that scaling companies are facing, the most consistent theme relates to execution and gaining momentum.  On both the operational efficiency side and in strategic efforts, including preparing for pivots or acquisitions, our clients find delivery is challenging.

Executing on a strategy is the most difficult thing to do. Much harder than creating values, refining a vision or setting up values and a strategic direction. But there are things you can do as a leader to make your strategic intent more executable and get your teams engaged, aligned, and enthusiastic.

  1. Keep the strategic plan simple and relatable. There is NO need for a 30-page document about your strategy.    If you need to publish something for your shareholders, leave that to the communications team.  The real work of getting a great strategy is in refining it down to its essence without losing the power of the direction.
  2. Engage a broader cross-section of your leadership and key contributors in developing the strategic plan. The plan will be better if informed by the people doing the work. And have them in the room.  Executives filter out and downplay challenges. It’s normal—we all have egos. But it doesn’t improve your plan or ground it in reality.
  3. Embrace that there are foundational elements of your strategy and business that are not going to significantly change over time (like values and the purpose of your company) and some that should shift in a cadence and regular basis. To gain momentum in executing on strategy, annual efforts have to be delivered in quarterly chunks, reviewed aggressively for what was delivered and what was learned, and new quarterly objectives set.
  4. Hold leaders accountable to deliver, communicate on challenges ahead of quarterly meetings, and be the key people removing barriers to execution. I can’t stress this enough. It is not okay for your executives to blame their teams. Too many of our clients have lost the muscle for holding themselves accountable for the failure of their teams. The buck really does stop at the top.
  5. Create specific teams to deliver on your annual priorities (quarter by quarter). Use the strategy execution process as your leadership training camp. You will be amazed how many high-potential people you will uncover, how many designated leaders can’t or won’t lead, and how much you will learn about your own ability to teach. The key to momentum is being a learning organization.
  6. Over communicate. When you think that everyone understands the process, the desired outcomes, the responsibilities, and the consequences for success and failure—say it again. And again. The tendency to weary of communicating what is most critical is at the heart of many strategy failures.  There is an entirely different blog to be written about how charismatic leaders are not (typically) very good leaders, but they are very good communicators.  And that communication can overcome many other challenges.

We often tell our clients that there’s no secret sauce here. Anyone who tells you they can make the work of tying a strategic intent to an effective implementation on that intent is just selling you trinkets.  It takes hard work, done consistently.

But it can be done, and the sense of satisfaction from improved performance will have a flywheel effect on your organization and your teams.  Not to mention your top and bottom line.