“In all too many businesses, there is a significant and unnecessary gap between strategy and execution: a lack of connection between where the enterprise aims to go and what it can accomplish.”
Creating a Strategy That Works, Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi, Spring 2016
How many times have we heard the We know that many organizations spend too little time on any one of these aspects and wind up missing the mark. Yes, there is a need for speed in today’s marketplace, but it still requires properly readying the organization for the desired results. As a strategy executive with a background in analytics and training, I have found that the best results occur when four critical components are activated for effective results:
- Excavate: Do a deep-dive business analysis to understand the marketplace, the customer, and the competition, clearly identifying key differentiators that are necessary for success. Where are the business gaps today versus the marketplace and how can those gaps be minimized? Is there an opportunity on the entire brand or one piece of the business that is getting hurt by competition? The more clearly you can define the opportunity, the more likely you are to be successful in achieving the desired results. For example, if looking at the market you see that one price segment is growing in the market faster than on your brand, define the executional tactics that will close that specific gap. Once you determine the root cause drivers of growth and the clear path that is needed to accomplish your goals, you can state the goal and the three to five key tactics that will drive those results.
- Educate: Many companies just set the goal – whether it is a market share number or a dollar growth objective – and set the carrot for hitting this target. We all know that there are right ways and wrong ways to hit a number. If you want to grow sales by 20%, be specific as to which category, package size, customer segment or channel has the largest opportunities and how you can get there. Show the organization the gap and the reason for the opportunity, then explain how to close it. Training allows them to discuss the challenges they face and arms them with the needed capabilities to overcome obstacles. Provide your team with the tools and the skills to win in the marketplace, then reinforce the tactics for success.
- Execute: Establish the timeframe to execute. As in sports, there is a starting point, a goal line and a time on the clock. Ensure they know their baseline today and the timeframe in which to achieve their desired results. Check in and coach throughout the process.
- Evaluate: Hold people accountable. Do not skip this crucial step. Accountability creates trust in an organization. People need to feel that if they do their part, other people will be accountable to do theirs, and together, the team will be successful. If one part of the team is not measured, fingers will start pointing or a lack of organizational clarity will ensue as one function tries to overcompensate for another. The organization should have a strategic objective to accomplish the overarching goal, but each team must be measured as to the tactics they are meant to deliver. Inspect what is expected and provide a clear tracking mechanism for doing so.
Think of this strategic process like the three bases and home plate on a baseball diamond. Getting singles and doubles are great, but a team only scores if all the bases and cross home plate are crossed. The process is also an ongoing cycle. Once you execute, the bar moves and more opportunities are presented. Each step is critical to drive results, just as there are four Es in effectiveness, defined as the degree to which objectives are achieved and problems are solved.