Challenges in Strategy Execution

As a student of execution of strategy I have always thought what is the best way to execute the strategy. Every time you are in the execution of strategy once you finish , you see the lesson learned and realize wow that was not easy but I have done it. Its going to be really easy to do it again but to our surprise we always find new challenges in the execution.

The first and foremost thing I would consider based on my practical experience is the culture of the organization and the culture of the country you are working in. Trust me its different in each country , and each organization. If you are working in the same country I would say the country culture would stay the same but if you are in a new country it’s a different story. You have to read the country culture carefully before you can even think of the strategy execution, although you are going to find some exceptional people everywhere but its hard if you are in a new country.

Second is the organization culture, you have to see how they are used to doing things. If you plan the execution of your strategy , you have already lost the plot. Read the organization culture , the government organizations are different in reacting and adopting to the strategy than private organizations. See it very carefully in which organization you are working and what are you going to face. To understand this fully , I think it needs another article.

Strategy Team and Its Support
The important part is the strategy team, who is going to work on detail the strategy with different business divisions. You must be careful in people selection don’t select the best person if the attitude is not supportive as team is more important than a person. I would prefer to take best people from business with right attitude even I have to train them for sometime.

Secondly the strategy must be detailed to the level of detail that is possible before handing it over to business divisions. Sometime I agree it can embarrass the business divisions as they would feel that you are telling them what they have to do but most people would find it easy if you are flexible to incorporate the points made by them. Try that you don’t take the credit and let them own what you have detailed it for business departments, it gives them feel well and they believe that they have worked it out.

C- Level support
You will have all the support in the world when the strategy program is started even it is approved and then it slowly fades away. In my experience there are two main reasons for it.

First is that C level executive are really very pumped up when you start it but strategy changes as you are working on it, if people don’t react to the way strategy expects them to, you have to make some changes here and there with approval but the time if it takes to get the result makes people hope go away. As a strategy champion you know its slow process but you need others to believe in this as well.

Secondly It is very hard to find a C-level executive who stays with you till the end with same enthusiasm, support and believe. Instead it fades away with time due to political pressure, likes and dislikes and other factors. They would always say that they are standing behind you but the actions does not support their words. So you need to protect this support as you need daily bathing , you need frequent nodding and consistent support from C-level.

Well here you go with actual challenge , Most of the time the organizational resistance messes up your hard work. You will find people with all kind of excuses that “why something should not be changes, we have been doing this for so long and this has worked perfectly almost all the time”. This is the core sentence you will hear.
A good stakeholder analysis and a proactive plan for most important one is the key. You have to take everybody if not the key people in support of your program. However sometimes internal politics comes around but you need to be persistent.

Reporting & follow-up
The reporting and follow-up is the key to remind the key stakeholders that they are on a mission and they are important part of the execution. I found it best to form a committee of the key stakeholders and a C-level should head this called transformation committee or any other name you want to call it.
The reporting team should be nice and helping people and it should not give an impression of cop. They should be flexible to the limit that they can be but you have to show the actual progress and be the eyes and ears of the C-level.

At the end I would say that we have to understand the simple things well in order to understand and execute the strategy. Only focus on simple questions like
What we are doing ?
Why are we doing this?
What happens if we don’t do it ?
What results we will get from it?
Few questions will really help us to communicate our message and contribution that we are doing.

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