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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

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

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Time to get your Business Fit

Whilst we dodged a bullet in 2008 it appears the economy is yet again challenged by sluggish sales as customers – in B2B and B2C markets - keep their hands firmly in their pockets.

During the GFC many businesses took the opportunity to ‘right size’ and removed obvious costs, but almost all failed to leverage it to its fullest in terms of waste reduction. This continued volatility may be your last chance to prepare your business for this fast-moving tsunami of economic woe.  Cash is tightening, confidence is shaken and where to next is uncertain.

A review of overheads and operating costs is essential before the economy takes off again. Why put more business through an incapable system? You will not meet your profit and cash-flow budgets without such a review.

Here is a check list of opportunities. Tick the box next to the ones you have in your business and then estimate the annual cost/savings for each. What is your total? You should find the number is somewhere between 10% and 20% of your annual sales (depending on how hard you cut in the past).

Tick the boxes below





1. Remove poor performing staff




2. Remove unprofitable customers




3. Remove waste in the sales and marketing process




4. Remove waste in the production process




5. Reduce overheads




6. Achieve or exceed budgets




7. Remove inefficient suppliers




8. Increase average sales/customer by 20%




9. Improve cash collection by 20%




10. Other please specify  



  You have less than 12 months to free up this cash. You will need all of it to fund your survival in this continued volatility. Already cash flow is tightening, business confidence is severely shaken, and you must take action now. Get some help as you will not make the time it needs. Your role is to make decisions, establish consequences, and deliver on your budgets. There is a cost benefit; the savings you make now will be there year after year.

The last question to ask yourself is, “what barriers are there that are stopping me from making a start on a waste reduction program”? Fix whatever issues come out of this thought process. Keep asking the question until all the barriers are dealt with and then just make a start. If you don’t start within the next week you probably won’t. If you do increased cash flow and reduced risk will be yours. 

But most importantly you will be able to take advantage  of the eventual rebound better than your competitors - a great position to be in!

For information on the Vantage Waste Reduction Program please click here.

Whilst we dodged a bullet in 2008 it appears the economy is yet again challenged by sluggish sales as customers – in B2B and B2C markets - keep their hands firmly in their pockets. ..

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