Challenge: Strategy Execution – 3 Focus Topics

A company can develop the best strategies and derive the most innovative projects to implement those strategies – if the execution fails, the world’s best strategies don’t have an impact. In this article we want to shed light on 3 focus topics for successful strategy execution.

The Structure

As soon as the overall strategic direction has been defined, the first challenge often lies in how to break the big picture down into execution ready topics, initiatives and ultimately projects. A clear hierarchy is needed right at the beginning. Not simply to set up a structure (e.g. an initiative consists of several projects -> a project of several actions -> an action is a measureable implementation), but also in order to establish very clear means of communication within the organisation. Everyone involved, project manager to executive board, must understand what it means if one refers to a successful/failed action. Additionally, consistent project structures and project planning should support this. For instance, this includes simple but consistent project charters summarizing the most important information for each project (e.g. project definition, goals, plans, KPIs, milestones…).

The Management

Once and while the necessary structures are being put in place, companies often face challenges when it comes to managing the defined initiatives and projects. One key aspect is that each individual hierarchy level needs to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. At the same time, management of the overall strategy (all strategic initiatives/projects) plays a crucial role with regards to achieving the intended strategic goal. Ideally the overall responsibility and accountability to drive the execution forward lies with a top executive, who closely collaborates with the finance department and has a direct reporting line to the executive board/CEO. Beside many others, two key factors should be kept in mind. An execution focused governance model as well as clear prioritisation is essential to provide direction to the organisation, without paralyzing it through bureaucratic processes applied to too many projects.

The Human Factor

If you look into why change processes in companies – such as the implementation of a new strategy – fail, you will soon find that it often comes down to the „soft factors“. Many companies focus too much on “what” they do and too litlle on “how” to make it work. This leads to factors such as employee resistance to change and management behaviors failing to support change playing a far bigger role in transformation failures than do inadequate resources or missing budgets.


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