We all know the story of the boy who cried, Wolf. The boy cried wolf time and time again to garner attention, and when the wolf actually showed up, no one in the village believed that this time was different, or that the wolf was really upon them.
Unfortunately, this little allegorical tale represents the exact place that many leadership teams find themselves regarding strategy execution.
Well-intentioned leaders have been telling their management teams that strategy execution is the most important focus for the organization for a long time without really doing much about it. Team members have become more and more numb with each subsequent promise of future action.
Why is this cycle of inefficiency so prevalent?
There are two main reasons. The first reason is the most common, leaders confuse the need for a perceived improvement of strategy with the need to properly execute the workable strategy that they already possess. For most, the overall strategy could stand improvement, but the company could benefit far more from effectively executing the strategy that they already have. The second reason is something that usually leads back to the first reason. Few leaders will admit it, but most don’t know exactly where to start strategy execution.
Fortunately, figuring out how to get started on strategy execution is not as difficult as you may think. The key is recognizing which barrier to strategy execution is the biggest impediment to your team. There are four barriers that may be keeping your organization from successfully implementing your existing strategy. There is a people barrier, a vision barrier, a management barrier, and a resource barrier.
In general, we do a shockingly bad job of addressing these barriers. You can start by answering these simple questions.
The People barrier
Do you have the right people in place or are they properly incentivized to execute the organizational strategy? Research shows that only 25 % of managers have incentives directly linked to strategy implementation.
The Vision barrier
Does your team truly understand their mission? Surveys show only 5% of the work-force understands the strategy the organization intends to execute.
The Management Barrier
Is strategy execution a top priority for your management team? A staggering 85% of executive teams spend less than an hour per month discussing strategy.
The Resource Barrier
Have you dedicated the precious resources to get the job done? Alarmingly more than 60% of organizations fail to link their strategy to a live budget.
Letting the fear of the challenge of overcoming these barriers keep you frozen in place or continuing the constant searching for the “perfect” strategy is a surefire way to ensure your strategy execution will fail.
Answering the four questions about barriers is a powerful first step in identifying where to start your strategy execution. Make no mistake, failure to focus on strategy execution is the wolf, and someday the wolf will show up and wreak havoc on your business model if you won’t begin to tear down the barriers that are keeping you from getting started.