As you know, I spend time helping companies with strategy execution, whether that is through consulting, coaching or training. Strategy execution may be the biggest problem out there in companies. You can see some stats I’ve used to prove that assertion here.
Lately I’ve been wondering why it is so hard to find people to talk to at companies about this subject. What I concluded was that no one is responsible for strategy execution and I’ve finally been able to prove it.
I went on LinkedIn and did a search on the term “Strategic Planning.” Lo and behold, this term was used 7.9 million times by people in my extended network. Then I searched on the term “Strategy Execution” and got 81,000 matches.
That’s 100 times more people out there doing Strategic Planning than are doing Strategy Execution. No wonder companies have so many problems. Everyone out there in businessland is doing the planning and virtually no one is executing.
Couldn’t agree more that people don’t pay attention to strategy execution. Where I have worked there is almost always a divide between the planners (leadership) and the rest of the organization (managers, everyone involved in the actual work, etc.) And the planners think they are so totally brilliant for creating the strategy but have little insight into how that strategy gets done or its effect/impact on the doers (in fact, they often don’t even consider whether we have the resources or not for their strategies that’s how disconnected they are). So one of the challenges is that strategic execution isn’t valued in organizations, let alone identified as central to achieving the ‘brilliant’ strategies. People seem to think all the talent lies in strategic planning but it’s only one part of the machinery of an effective, achievement-oriented organization.
Yes you’re right about execution not being valued as much as planning. It’s just not sexy. Using stats from another sours, Amazon has 132,000 books on planning and only 10,000 on doing. This may be why Fitness Gyms etc have such a good business. Way more people plan to exercise than those who do but they both pay the same amount. Gyms would probably fail if everyone who planned and paid actually exercised.On the other end, Buckley’s cough syrup thrives on tasting bad but working. I suspect we’ll have to make strategy execution sexy before we get more people focussing on it.
Execution is like the “invisible work”. In my experience in the marketing area, when the strategy is being executed well, no one notices its value. When the strategy isn’t being executed well (or at all) the thinking is “marketing doesn’t work”.
Too, the folks leading the execution part need to really understand and be able to map back their daily/weekly/monthly activities to how these support the strategy. The folks in the “trenches” need both a big picture view, and a detailed view. Then – to get it all done they need to ensure their diplomatic/team management skills are well developed. Finally, they need to love it. Love the work. It is a tall order.
I’m happy I found your blog.
Thanks for the comments. Yes, Execution is the invisible work and that may be the problem. People do it without thinking too much about how they are doing it. My thesis is that there is seldom one person responsible for thinking about how the work is being done. Everyone is responsible and so…no one really is.
I checked out your website. It is absolutely clear what you do and I must do a better job of communicating what I do, once I figure out what that is.
I’ll be at your Titan event at Communitech. Perhaps we can talk about this more in person. It’s so great to see another professional focusing on execution. Let me know how I can be of help.