Our strategy doesn’t seem to be working. What’s wrong? When company and business unit leaders or product and market managers share this question with me I answer with the following question: Is it your strategy, strategy execution or both? In most cases, they don’t know, so I take them down a path of a few more questions that include:
First, are your strategy decisions aligned and compatible with your company’s vision, mission and core values? If not, execution can be very difficult because your company’s mission and core values are foundational elements of your company’s culture. If not aligned and compatible, Peter Drucker’s statement “culture eats strategy for breakfast” can cause a strategy which looked great on paper to fail.
Second, are your strategy decisions based on a comprehensive identification and assessment of your companies opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses? Successful strategies exploit company’s opportunities and strengths and mitigate company’s threats and weaknesses. The absence of comprehensive industry, market and competitive research lead to strategies that can fail miserably. Absent outside objective research and analysis companies tend to overstate their strengths and underestimate their weaknesses. When viewed through internal lenses strengths may look like competitive advantages when in reality they are simply table stakes and offer no competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Third, are the required execution levers in place for your strategy to be successful? The execution lever checklist begins with the right leadership, people, organization structure, systems and processes, and culture. Keep in mind that current execution levers don’t necessarily work with strategy decisions that include new products, markets, channels, geographies, strategic partnerships and/or acquisitions.
Finally, superior strategy and strategy execution requires focus, discipline and alignment.
President, The Hedlund Group, LLC
Doug provides Line of Sight Group clients corporate, business unit, and product level strategy development and execution facilitation and guidance. Doug’s disciplined approach to strategy development and execution helps our clients translate our industry research and competitive intelligence into focused, actionable strategies and execution plans. Doug has evolved the disciplines and tools he utilizes over a twenty-seven year career in corporate development and strategy leadership roles at Deluxe Corporation, CUNA Mutual Group, and Mayo Clinic. In addition, Doug has taught the Strategic Management Capstone course in the MBA programs at the University of St. Thomas and Augsburg College since 2008 and 2009, respectively and has helped numerous organizations formulate successful strategy and strategy execution plans.