Vantage Blog


4 Tips to getting Traction with Execution

The biggest challenge I see working with clients relates to successful implementation of their strategy and plans.


Sometimes this is due to the fact that the organisation’s strategy itself is unclear or unsound; but more often than not it’s because its execution has been poorly managed.

I don’t subscribe to the view that fantastic execution of an average strategy is preferable to a great strategy with poor execution.  That’s a cop out - having clear strategy AND successful execution must be the goal if you want to win.

I have written previously about effective strategic planning; and to me developing or refining a clear and compelling competitive advantage is its foundation.

But what then? 

There are four ways I believe you can set yourself up for better execution of your strategy and plans:

1) Firstly make sure your strategic planning process itself is simple and logical.  That it is part of how you do business ( e.g. not restricted to an annual offsite). And importantly ensure it is aligned and connected - is it able to be easily cascaded throughout the organisation.  One page planning is a great process for that.

2) Focus, focus, focus.  Deciding what you are going to do now i.e. in the next say 90 or 120 days is a really effective technique to provide clarity. 

A number of clients have used the approach from Lencioni’s The Advantage - pick a theme based on what’s important right now, identify the supporting strategies and focus on those for the next period (read more here). Another is based on Harnish’s The Rockefeller Principles -decide on the five key priorities for the next 90 days, with one that is paramount above all others (read more here).

Both approaches then outline how you use data and meetings to focus on measuring and ensuring accountability.  Communication is also a key component around successful execution.  I have really used shorthand here to describe the approach so if you would like to talk to a couple of clients about how these have worked drop me a line and I will put you in touch.

3) The flip side of focus is deciding what are you not going to do?  What hobby horses or distractions are you going to kill to ensure you have the time and resources to effectively implement your plan?  What activities and processes in your business could you remove to simplify and improve your operation?  A waste audit is a good place to start.

4) Finally, stay close to your target market – your key customers.  What are their needs and wants, their problems and challenges?  And beyond that what trends or issues are emerging that may cause you to rethink how you go about your business. Either in terms of challenging your strategy – or more likely refining your execution.

So it is possible to ‘have it all’!  Great strategy and successful execution!

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

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