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Do you know if the 10-time judo world champion Teddy Riner prepared a series of fancy PowerPoint slides to present his winning strategy to his coaches? Maybe he did. Or if Ilias Iliadis had lengthy discussions on the agile approach to that Olympic gold medal he won at age 17?

I don’t know because I judge these gentlemen’s strategies through their actions, not their presentation skills. And that is the only thing that matters in the end.

Point me to any master strategist or champion, be it in sport or business, and I will show you a Doer. Someone who lets action speaks louder than the words that ignited the action. It is what separates successful leaders and companies from the competition. Those who are successful, first execute on strategy. The rest mimics the strategic process but leave out the most important factor, doing something.

 

 

Sadly, this is a big issue I encounter when I talk to leaders. Too many companies do not focus enough on the most important factor; execution. 

Consider the following:

  • Fewer than 15 percent of global organizations report that they are successful at strategy implementation.
  • Most of strategies fail in the implementation phase and various studies have reported strategy implementation failure rates from 60 and up to 90 percent!
  • Many organizations have a fundamental disconnect between the formulation of their strategy and the implementation of that strategy into useful action.

Caught by the slideshow strategy trap

I´ve seen fantastic strategy descriptions on how company x could conquer the world. I’ve seen brilliant analysis papers on what company y should do to dominate their business area. But even the best-made strategies and the brilliant analysis behind it are worthless if they are not executed successfully.

Whether you are a company leader, business owner – or even a professional athlete – you need to ask yourself the following:

Am I just interested in having a well-written fancy strategy presentation that will end its days in an archive?

Or am I willing to take the next step to implement the strategy into my organization that will move us forward in the right direction?

Prepare yourself for what’s coming

Let me be honest with you. This is not going to be easy. To execute a vision or a strategy, change is often required. Hard choices must be made. But changes and hard choices are not very popular.

In fact, they are often demoralizing. Maybe the new implementation of the new strategy requires you to:

  • Change how certain members in your team work.
  • Shut down products/initiatives and/or shift resources
  • Fire people or close under-performing offices
  • Raise more money to fuel growth in one area
  • Focus on certain or even new customer types and fire a lot of existing customers

Leaders must be willing to make these hard choices and take necessary action. One example from the world of IT and manufacturing:

Maybe you need your team members to spend more time on documentation and structuring data. Not very popular amongst the team members because the extra work will affect their efficiency. But that extra work will speed up all the processes downstream and thereby provide a long-term benefit across the entire organization.

The change may seem hard and unfulfilling on short term. But provide the necessary benefit on the longer term.

It’s easy to build a strategy. It’s easy to announce bombastic statements followed by ambitious goals. But if you really want to create and deliver results, you need to be willing to act.

Break down your strategy into pieces and ask yourself:

  • Have you ensured that the strategy is executional throughout your business? Your organization?
  • Do you understand what is preventing your company from achieving the goals they have set out to deliver?
  • Do you understand the processes that should change?
  • Do you know how to support your employees in the best way possible, so they can deliver the results?
  • Are you providing your employees with the right tools, so they can deliver the results you expect of them?
  • Are the processes that are supposed to adopt your strategy into your organization efficient? Do you need to change it?

 

To sum it up: Well formulated strategies only produce superior performance for organizations when they are successfully executed. Start today by creating a clear implementation plan that specifies the operational objectives, activities and processes required to achieve the goals of the strategy.

It is easy to formulate grand strategies. It is easy to present it on a fancy PowerPoint slide deck. But if you really want to deliver the results, you need to be willing to invest and to change.

About the author

Leon Lauritsen

Leon has worked with multiple IT systems from ERP to BI and PLM. His experience ranges all the way from programming to business consulting, project management and business development. Leon started his career in IT development and has further earned a diploma in IT and Economics at Copenhagen Business School and an Executive MBA at Henley Management College.  

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