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5 Roadblocks to strategy execution

Strategy process by nature is

Evolutionary (Intended vs. Emergent) and
Dynamic (Ever-changing macro & micro environment
Because of this inherent nature, more often than not it becomes fairly complex and this complexity is potent enough to derail the execution. However there are other factors which play a crucial role in successful execution of any strategy at any level. If these factors are not contained, they become barriers.

In my opinion, some of the key roadblocks in strategy execution are following:

Extended time frame of strategy formulation:Strategy formulation should be time bound to ensure the assumptions are valid and the strategic options that one chooses as the outcome of the process are relevant. In my opinion, 3 months is a fair time for this process. However, you can fine-tune the strategy as per changing realities over a period of time.

“Mis” communication: Change in strategy at any level is accompanied by multitude of changes in process, business models etc. If the impending changes are not assessed and managed well, the outcome is at risk. The most crucial aspect of change management is communication. Communication should ensure common understanding of strategy across all the levels in the organization. It will not only help in ensuring buy-in at all levels but also ensure commitment from all.

Ownership shift: If the team which is entrusted with strategy execution is different from one which developed the strategy then this will prove to be a deterrent during the execution. Ownership is usually shifted down the hierarchy considering execution as a lesser mortal as compared to strategy development. In my opinion, the same team should develop as well as execute strategy. This will ensure the strategy which is put on the table is practical at the same time there is no room for misunderstanding.

Demotivated executioners: Half the battle is lost if the team responsible for execution is not motivated. Demotivation can creep in from multiple dimensions such as limited access to resources, missing capabilities, deficient empowerment, confusing action plan and misalignment of awards with the outcome.

Priority drift (leadership) and lack of measurement: This is the most important roadblock during strategy execution. There is a lot of fanfare when the strategy gets developed. Senior management allocates lot of bandwidth to this exercise but focus shifts to other activities by the time it comes to execution. Execution usually is pushed to a corner because of the fact that execution it is a time taking process and senior executives have a shorter attention span. Also, the outcome of the strategy execution in the initial stages is not tangible and this might be the causal effect of this priority drift.

Strategy is not as good as it is developed but it’s only as good as it is executed.

Do you have a similar observation? Do let me know.

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