• Professor Chris Ogbechie

Strategy Execution Challenges in the Current Environment

LBS Insight

Strategy Execution Challenges in the Current Environment

Most companies spend time and resources in developing or reviewing their strategies but unfortunately, there is usually a gap between strategy and execution in many organisations in Nigeria, as they find it difficult to execute their well-crafted strategies effectively. Brilliant execution has therefore become today’s competitive advantage and organisations that execute brilliantly have, over time, delivered extraordinary results.

Creating strategy in today’s environment of complexity, ever-changing priorities, and conflicting agendas is a daunting task. When senior executives invest time and effort in developing a more thorough, thoughtful approach to strategy, they increase the odds of building a winning business in the long term.

 

STRATEGY EXECUTION CHALLENGES

Execution is the discipline that converts strategy into results. With many organisations in Nigeria, the problem is hardly about the strategy itself, but about its execution. Research and experience have shown that there are four major barriers to strategy execution:

  1. The vision barrier – only a very small percentage of the work force understands the strategy of the company. This is because many top executives claim that their strategy is confidential and so are not willing to share it with staff at all levels.
  2. The management barrier – most executive teams spend a very small fraction of their time in a month discussing strategy; rather they spend a great amount of their time discussing operational issues, particularly in their executive committee meetings.
  3. The resource barrier – many companies do not link their budgets to strategy, as they do not perceive their budget as a tool for strategy execution. In these organisations, the budgeting process is driven by spread sheet and extrapolation of the past.
  4. The people barrier – only a small percentage of managers in organisations have incentives linked to strategy. This implies that the performance management system, where it exists, in organisations is not linked to strategy

In our environment, there are other factors that have impeded strategy execution and these include corruption and lack of integrity that lead to wrong decisions and actions.

In the Nigerian environment, other factors like corruption and lack integrity, that lead to wrong decisions and actions have impeded strategy execution. Most organisations invest a lot in training managers to plan, lead and take decisions but not on how to execute.

FROM STRATEGY TO RESULTS

Business executives are usually told that “information is knowledge and knowledge is power”. Unfortunately, in recent times, knowledge no longer amounts to power as information is readily available, thanks to search engines like Google. Flawless execution has become the new corporate power and as such strategy execution should be the number one priority for most executives. It is imperative for companies to have a formal process or framework to manage strategy execution. Top management should inspire their organisation to execute brilliantly by doing the following:

  • Bring the strategy to life for everyone through compelling vision and powerful communication.
  • Show enthusiastic commitment to the task at hand.
  • Build and inspire the team towards executing the strategy.
  • Set clear milestones, agree upon metrics for evaluation of performance, identify and celebrate quick wins to keep morale high.
  • Tie team and individual rewards to performance.
  • Create the right organisational culture and values that support execution.
  • Build organisational bridges with strategic partners and external allies.

To choose diagnostic measures, senior managers must evaluate three criteria:

  • Alignment with strategy – the measures must tell people what they should be focusing on
  • Measurability – the measures should be objective, complete and responsive.
  • Linked to value – the measures must create economic value.

 

ROLE OF LEADERSHIP

One of the strongest barriers to executing any strategy is courage, therefore top leadership must find the discipline, the will and the determination to act. No strategy, however brilliant, can be executed successfully except the people who have the most important jobs (top leadership team) know what they need to do differently, understand how and why they should do it, and have the necessary resources to do it.

Brilliant execution requires three things – leadership, more leadership, and even more leadership.

CONCLUSION

The difference in the performances of two separate companies operating in the same industry and offering similar products and services can be attributed to their strategies. However, in crafting strategy, business leaders must confirm that they have the right resources, people, processes, culture, and an execution road map. Ultimately, the principal requirement for strategy execution is a corporate leadership deeply committed to effective execution.

Does your organisation have a clearly articulated strategy?

If the answer to the above question is yes, how much direct impact do you see as a result of this strategy?   What improvements or better alignment is required for optimal results?

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