Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Strategy Execution – Acting on what really matters and avoiding the failure to launch



Strategy execution is a key topic of research in most of the top B schools in the world right now. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the strategies fail during the implementation phase. Recently conference board’s survey of CEOs revealed that strategy execution was top most challenging issue faced by them.

Let me share my personal experience with you: I was given the opportunity to be a part of the implementation phase of a very challenging project in Angola. We had to implement the business processes defined in the strategy phase (predecessor phase) for an energy startup. My organization had won the contract to implement the process whereas another top global management consulting firm was responsible for the predecessor (strategy) phase. When the implementation started we realized that most of the business processes that were defined earlier were highly incompatible with the systems available in the market and there was also a lack of coordination between diverse modules (different business processes) inside the company. We had to revisit all the processes and redefine them again (basically it doubled our effort).

I never thought about the lessons learnt from this experience until I took Strategy Development class from Prof. Zak.  This class has widened my understanding and has helped me to connect the dots which I never thought of earlier. Below are the top 3 aspects that should be kept in mind while creating strategy execution plan.

Begin with the end in mind: While developing the strategy we should always keep the final objective in mind even if the reality seems to be against it. We should always have a clear idea of what our strategic plan will look like and we should always create a template to back our work plan for a greater clarity.

Readiness and Preparedness: We should consider all the needs of the company while setting up the business strategy. We should involve board, senior executives and subject matter experts from all the division, there should be weekly meetings with these people and they should perform a quality check and analyze our strategies.

Increase understanding of strategy and processes: Lot of management consulting companies hire fresh grads from top b schools around the world that have theoretical knowledge but lack practical experience. I don’t say that we should not promote fresh grads but we should have a proper mix between experienced and non-experienced.  Besides this majority of the company employees do not understand their organization’s strategy. Hence it is critical to repeat communication through several methods (auditory, visual and kinesthetic) until there is a thorough understanding of their company’s vision and strategic plans.

Some of the other aspects that lead to the failure of strategy are: Lack of commitment, Lack of communication between stakeholders, Lack of accountability, Lack of support from senior management, Lack of futuristic thinking (Conditions / technologies change) and finally lack of alignment between different systems.  

If we work on all these aspects we can definitely avoid the failure of launch. At the end I would like to sum this all up and say that: “Strategy is the art of creating unfair advantage and cannot be divorced from execution” – Kushal Budhwar, April 2014

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