The all-or-nothing moment in strategies: action

May 25 2018
Randall Corella V.

You may have the best strategy, the best team, and the best positioning when pursuing your goals, but Everything will be gone if the execution fails.

We are not talking about football, although the metaphor can help. We are talking about business and competition, leadership and ways to “close the clamp” after enormous efforts that are genuinely invested in a strategic approach.

Esteban Brenes, Academic Director of the Executive MBA and the Senior Management Program (PAG) At INCAE Business School, he reviews the “abc” of the stage that consists of moving from words to action. That phase in which lights have already been tested, the cameras have been positioned and all that remains is to act.

It is considered that the strategy includes essential elements such as a clear direction, timely decisions and considerations such as positioning, as well as an action plan and knowledge about competitive advantages.

Thus, also knowing where to compete, how and against whom, organizational processes, roles and policies are defined, all within their own cultural framework. It is then time to pull the trigger ... but it is not that easy either.

A survey by Covey and McKinsey revealed that Only 44% of the staff understood the objectives and that only 40% felt that their performance was being measured, that less than 20% were motivated at the time of execution and that only half are satisfied with their work. This is very difficult, says Professor Brenes.

In summary: 70% of strategic failures have a reason for being: poor execution (Zook & Allen, "Profit from the core", 2001). For this it is necessary find a good balance between commitment and focus, mixing that is achieved in only one in 10 cases, said a study by Bruch and Ghoshal published in the journal Harvard Business Review.

To perform well there are 5 key, unavoidable factors.

1. The formulation of the strategy, in which it is very important to involve the different teams so that they enrich the process and feel part of it, which generates subsequent commitment.

2. Operationalize, based on a structure that must be adapted to the strategy, not the other way around. Good communication matters here for a timely alignment and a correct assignment of roles, deadlines and budgets. What will come next will be a discipline exercise and a test of the system.

3. Check, knowing that this requires strict monitoring from senior management and even from the governing body. 

4. This is only achieved if there is an accurate leadership, with a CEO committed and determined in a clear direction, who knows how to delegate and grant decision-making powers. That will make the team identify with the route and the style adopted by the organization, without having to have annoyance later on along the way.

5. Corporate governance, Understanding the indispensable commitment of the body of shareholders, managers, the CEO and the managerial layer in their different responsibilities, within an organizational culture and aware that the right people must be in the right positions.

Professor Brenes even advises order the factors differently, in order of importance, starting with corporate governance and the accurate leadership of a good CEO, followed by the formulation of the strategy, its operationalization and then diligent follow-up.

Then it only remains to execute with determination, leaving the comforts of one's own office and recognizing the risks of inertia in the different departments. Things will have gone well if the execution achieves its objectives, not necessarily before the rest, but precisely and clearly.

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