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The Winning Formula: 5 Interdependent Elements for Successful Strategy Execution


Strategy execution plays a pivotal role in determining your business’s success. It is the link between your strategy and how you will achieve your objectives (financial and other). Formulating a well-defined strategy is just the beginning; the real challenge lies in executing that strategy effectively. Surprisingly, a significant number of strategies fail to achieve their intended outcomes, leaving executives perplexed and their organizations stagnant. One of the major causes of strategy execution failure stems from the underestimation of the changes required to support the selected strategy.

This blog post will present the major changes that are generally required to execute a new strategy. Although it is not an exhaustive list, it will point you in the right direction in terms of identifying and managing the capabilities you need to execute your strategy. The idea is to have an operating model that supports your strategy that is composed of 5 interdependent elements:

  • Governance
  • People
  • Processes
  • Technology
  • Performance Management

Before we move into the strategy execution component of this blog post, let us first revisit strategy followed by an execution structure, and then a high level overview of each of the 5 elements.

Revisit What Is Strategy

Before addressing strategy execution, executives must revisit, agree, and align on the organization’s strategy. A clear and concise understanding of the markets the organization will compete in, competitive positioning, target customer and value proposition will align the executive team. The strategy should define how the organization aims to differentiate itself from competitors and the unique value it brings to customers. By reinforcing their grasp on the strategy, executives can ensure that it is effectively communicated and embraced throughout the organization. This will help clarify the organization’s strategic objectives, mission, vision, and overarching goals which is paramount for strategy execution.

1) Target Customer and Buying Criteria

No strategy can succeed without a deep understanding of the target customer and their buying criteria. Executives must invest time and resources to identify the target customer, their specific needs, preferences, and pain points. Armed with this knowledge, organizations can tailor their products, services, and marketing efforts to align perfectly with customer expectations. Executives should encourage a customer-centric mindset across the organization, where all decisions are made with the end-user in mind.

2) The Organization’s Value Proposition

A robust and compelling value proposition is the cornerstone of successful strategy execution. It is the promise an organization makes to its customers, articulating the unique value it delivers and how it addresses the target customer's pain points better than competitors. Executives must ensure that the value proposition is clear, concise, and consistent across all communication channels. This clarity will guide the entire organization in its efforts to deliver on the value proposition effectively. When this is fully aligned with the target customer and their buying criteria, you have done your homework!

3) Delivering on Your Value Proposition

Now it is time to execute your strategy and deliver on your value proposition. You will need to reconfigure your organization to support this strategy, exceed customer expectations, and create a sustainable competitive advantage. This may involve restructuring departments, realigning job roles, and providing the necessary resources and training to support the strategy's successful implementation. Creating a culture of collaboration, where cross-functional teams work seamlessly towards shared objectives, can significantly improve strategy execution. This is where the "rubber hits the road" and where the 5 interdependent elements outlined earlier serve as a GPS. These elements will guide your investment decisions, implementation plan, and capabilities that will be built/acquired to support your strategy and value proposition.

An Execution Framework: Separating Operations from Strategic Initiatives

To turn visionary plans into tangible results, an effective execution structure is vital. A key aspect of this structure involves distinguishing between day-to-day operations and strategic initiatives. Let’s explore the significance of alignment between these two facets and how executives can optimize their execution structure by differentiating and governing "Run the Business" and "Change the Business" initiatives.

1) The Importance of Alignment

A fundamental step in setting up the right execution structure is to understand the distinction between operations and strategic initiatives while ensuring they are aligned. Operations focus on the routine functions that keep the organization running smoothly. Strategic initiatives, on the other hand, encompass the projects and activities designed to build capabilities, execute strategy, and achieve long-term goals and objectives.

Alignment between operations and strategic initiatives is crucial to prevent conflicts and optimize resource allocation. When the two aspects work cohesively, day-to-day operations can provide the stability and foundation required to support strategic initiatives effectively. It is recommended to separate these two distinct but overlapping streams as "Run the Business" and "Change the Business".

2) Run the Business

The "Run the Business" aspect refers to the operational aspect of the execution structure. Executives must ensure that this segment is well-managed and operates efficiently. This involves establishing clear workflows, performance metrics, and key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor ongoing operations. Regular evaluation and improvement of operational processes are essential to maximize productivity and ensure that resources are not tied up in non-strategic activities.

3) Change the Business

The "Change the Business" segment involves implementing strategic initiatives that align with the organization's strategy, value proposition, and long-term objectives. Executives must create a dedicated framework for managing these initiatives, including governance, investment decisions, and monitoring progress. This may involve setting up cross-functional teams to spearhead specific projects or initiatives.

Strengthening Strategy Execution through Effective Governance

Governance plays a crucial role in the successful execution of an organization's strategy. As an executive, your ability to establish robust governance practices is pivotal in guiding the organization towards achieving its strategic objectives.

1) Governance Structure

A well-defined governance structure is the backbone of successful strategy execution. As an executive, you must review and potentially revamp your organization's governance model to ensure it aligns with the chosen strategy. This may involve establishing dedicated strategy oversight committees, redefining roles and responsibilities for each level of management, and clarifying decision-making authority.

2) Program and Project Management

Strategic initiatives often involve complex projects that demand efficient program and project management capabilities. Executives should focus on developing a robust project management framework to ensure these initiatives are executed on time, within scope, budget, and as per requirements. Regular progress tracking, risk management, and effective communication are essential components of successful program and project management.

3) Delegation of Authority

A critical aspect of effective strategy execution is empowering your team members. Delegating authority and decision-making responsibilities to capable individuals not only relieves executives of unnecessary burdens but also fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among employees. Trust your teams to make informed decisions aligned with the broader strategy, especially since they are closer to customers and have a better grasp of what is happening in the field.

Nurturing Success: Empowering People for Effective Strategy Execution

In the realm of strategy execution, people are the key drivers of success. As an executive, it is imperative to recognize the vital role that employees play in translating strategic visions into tangible results. In this blog post, we will delve into essential aspects related to people management that executives must focus on to create an organizational culture conducive to successful strategy execution. These include organizational design, competencies, resourcing and capacity planning, job design, and performance management systems.

1) Organizational Design

Organizational design is the process of restructuring a company to enable the smooth execution of its chosen strategy. As an executive, it is crucial to consider several key factors. First, align the organizational structure with the strategy and value proposition, ensuring that departments, teams, and reporting lines are optimized for efficient execution of strategic initiatives. Second, prioritize flexibility and adaptability in the design to enable swift responses to changing market conditions and to capitalize on emerging opportunities and challenges. Lastly, establish clear and open communication channels that facilitate the free flow of information and ideas, fostering a collaborative and innovative environment within the organization.

2) Competencies

To execute the chosen strategy effectively, identifying the necessary competencies within the organization is crucial. This involves assessing the current skill sets to pinpoint any gaps that must be addressed to support the new strategy. Implementing training and development programs is essential to equip employees with the knowledge and skills aligned with the strategic objectives. Additionally, fostering leadership competencies that align with the new strategy, mission, vision, and values is vital to ensure that leaders can effectively drive the strategy forward.

3) Resourcing and Capacity Planning

Having the right people in the right roles is paramount for successful strategy execution, and as executives, it is crucial to focus on key areas. Firstly, resource allocation should be carefully managed, with budgets and manpower allocated in alignment with the priority of strategic initiatives and expected returns. Secondly, capacity planning is essential to anticipate the resource needs of strategic projects and initiatives, ensuring that teams have the necessary resources to efficiently carry out their tasks. Lastly, talent acquisition plays a vital role, as executives should actively seek and hire individuals who possess the required skills, expertise, and values that align with the strategic direction of the organization.

4) Job Design

Job design is a critical aspect of crafting roles that not only align with the overall strategy but also empower employees to make effective contributions. This involves establishing clear and well-defined roles and responsibilities, ensuring that each employee comprehends their specific tasks and how they contribute to both their business unit and the organization's broader strategy. Additionally, promoting cross-functional collaboration is essential to encourage teamwork and collaboration across departments, breaking down silos and fostering a unified approach to executing the strategy. Lastly, granting employees the necessary empowerment and autonomy within their roles is vital, as it instills a sense of ownership and accountability, enabling them to make informed decisions and take ownership of their contributions to the strategy's success.

5) Change Management

Preparing your people for changes is imperative for successful strategy execution. Adequate communication and training, in addition to an adoption plan and overcoming resistance is crucial. It is always easier to get your people aboard if they are loyal to the business and that they believe in the new strategy.

Streamlining Success: Optimizing Business Processes for Effective Strategy Execution

In the pursuit of strategy execution, organizations must take a close look at their internal business processes. Efficient and well-optimized business processes can significantly contribute to successful strategy implementation. As an executive, your role in identifying, designing, and optimizing business processes is crucial. Let’s breakdown the significance of business process design and optimization as a fundamental component of strategy execution.

Business Process Design and Optimization

1) Identifying Critical Processes

The first step in optimizing business processes is identifying the critical ones that directly impact the execution of the chosen strategy. Analyze the end-to-end workflows and interactions within the organization to determine which processes are essential for achieving strategic objectives. It is also imperative to understand the inputs and outputs of these critical processes to understand their interrelationships.

2) Mapping Current Processes

Once the critical processes are identified, map the existing workflows to gain insights into their efficiency, bottlenecks, and potential areas for improvement. Visualizing the current state of processes helps in understanding where changes are needed to align them with strategic goals and the future state of the organization.

3) Redesigning Processes

With a clear understanding of the current processes, initiate the redesign phase. The goal is to create streamlined, efficient, and agile workflows that align with the strategic vision. Eliminate unnecessary steps, consolidate redundant activities, and introduce automation where applicable to enhance process efficiency. Remember, these changes are resulting from the execution of a new strategy so underlying business processes can be driven by changes in activities, roles, organizational design, systems, and others.

4) Ensuring Cross-Functional Collaboration

Effective strategy execution often requires seamless collaboration across different departments. Ensure that the redesigned processes facilitate cross-functional collaboration and communication. This is critical since several inputs and outputs involve multiple departments.

Leveraging Technology: The Power of Systems Design and Implementation in Strategy Execution

Technology plays a pivotal role in shaping the success of organizations. As an executive, harnessing the potential of technology is crucial for effective strategy execution. The significance of systems design and implementation as a key component of strategy execution, and how executives can leverage technology to drive their organization towards its strategic goals is a top priority. This is particularly important in the age of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other opportunities for advanced technologies and automation. Without functional processes, well trained staff, and reliable data, these advanced technologies cannot be leveraged.

Systems Design and Implementation

1) Assessing Technology Needs

The first step in leveraging technology for strategy execution is to assess the organization's capability requirements and which technologies can best support them. Understand the requirements of the chosen strategy and identify areas where technology can add value, such as automating processes, improving data analytics, enhancing customer experience, or enabling better decision-making.

2) Alignment with Strategic Goals

Ensure that any technology initiative aligns seamlessly with the organization's strategic goals. Technology should be an enabler of the strategy, supporting and enhancing the execution process rather than becoming a separate entity. Information technology exists to support business lines, not drive to drive them. This is where alignment is extremely important because investing in new technologies is very costly, especially if these projects fail to yield their intended benefits.

3) Scalability and Flexibility

As the organization evolves, so will its technology needs. Focus on adopting systems that are scalable and flexible, capable of accommodating growth and adaptation to evolving business requirements.

4) Integration Capabilities

To achieve a comprehensive and unified approach to strategy execution, prioritize technologies that can integrate with existing and future systems. Seamless integration facilitates data flow and enables a holistic view of the organization's operations.

5) Data Security and Privacy

As technology becomes more integrated into business processes, data security and privacy become critical concerns. Prioritize systems that adhere to the highest standards of data protection and implement robust cyber security measures. Systems should not be designed without cyber security and risk management requirements taken into consideration as cyber attacks can have a major impact across the organization. Also, regulatory and compliance requirements are becoming more stringent, and insurance companies are becoming more selective as to the types of coverage being offered. It cannot be overemphasised: do not overlook these requirements.

Driving Success through Performance Management: The Key Tools for Executives

Effective performance management is a critical component of successful strategy execution. As an executive, you have the responsibility to align performance management systems with the organization's strategic objectives. Let’s look at some tools that can be applied to performance management best practices: the Strategy Map, Balanced Scorecard, and the alignment of performance management systems with the organizational, divisional, and individual employee strategies.

1) Strategy Map

A Strategy Map is a visual representation of an organization's strategy and the cause-and-effect relationships between key activities which drive the value proposition and ultimately, financial performance. It provides a clear and concise overview of how different activities contribute to the achievement of the overall strategy. As an executive, you can leverage the Strategy Map in the following ways:

Strategic Clarity: The Strategy Map helps communicate the strategy to all levels of the organization, ensuring that employees understand the larger purpose and their role in its execution.

Alignment: By aligning each department's goals with the overall strategic objectives, the Strategy Map fosters a unified approach to strategy execution.

Empowerment: The visual representation of key activities and their interconnections fosters a sense of accountability among employees, promoting ownership of their roles in the strategy.

2) Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard is an extension of the Strategy Map that provides a balanced view of an organization's performance measures across four perspectives: financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth. Executives can benefit from the Balanced Scorecard in the following ways:

Balanced Assessment: The Balanced Scorecard offers a holistic evaluation of organizational performance, preventing overemphasis on a single aspect (e.g., financial metrics) and ensuring a balanced focus on key strategic drivers.

Cascading Objectives: The Balanced Scorecard facilitates the cascading of strategic objectives from the top level to lower levels, enabling seamless alignment and execution across the organization.

Data-Driven Decision Making: The Balanced Scorecard relies on data and key performance indicators (KPIs), enabling data-driven decision making and real-time monitoring of progress. This also helps identify emerging trends and how they are interconnected to other data points enabling management to identify risks before they materialize and take corrective action.

Aligning Performance Management Systems

3) Organizational Strategy

Aligning performance management with organizational strategy involves setting clear, measurable goals and KPIs that directly support the strategic objectives. The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound) principle can be applied to any effective performance management system. At the organizational level, it is critical that the KPIs are at the strategic level (not operational) and that they are full aligned with the key activities that drive strategy. What gets measured gets managed and at the organizational level, they have to be strategic.

4) Divisional Strategy and Responsibility Centers

This is where the KPIs get more operational and will depend on the type of business unit. Business units may need to be created and/or managed/assessed differently as part of the new strategy. Responsibility accounting constitutes a managerial accounting system where responsibility is assigned based on specific business objectives that map up to the organization’s goals. Responsibility centers have their own performance measures, and they are scored based on the activities that are under their control.

5) Employee Performance and Compensation Systems:

Individual employee performance should be aligned with the organizational and divisional strategies. Implement performance appraisal systems that link employee goals to higher-level objectives. Furthermore, design compensation and rewards systems that incentivize behaviors and outcomes that align with the divisional and organizational strategy.


Mastering strategy execution is a continuous journey that requires focus, alignment, agility, and a deep commitment to driving change throughout the organization. By paying attention to the five interdependent elements and embracing a holistic approach to strategy execution, executives can position their organizations for success. Remember, successful strategy execution is not just about having a great strategy on paper but rather the ability to translate that strategy into action and create tangible results. With the right focus and determination, your organization can thrive and stand out amidst the competition.

"The aim of strategic planning is action now"

Peter F. Drucker