Strategy insights simplified – what is your strategy foundation?

The measure of a great strategy is in the results of its execution. What has your strategy delivered? Today, with great tools like ChatGPT, and powerful search engines like Google, it is easy to find a strategy document online. All you need to do is just change the name, and alas, you have a document with a title and strategic plan.

Strategy execution is crucial to the success of any organization or government. To achieve successful strategy execution, Gartner has identified five pillars that must be in place. These five pillars are like the foundation of a house, without which the structure will not stand strong.

The first pillar of strategy execution is leadership alignment. This is like the captain of a ship, who must ensure that everyone on board is rowing in the same direction. Effective communication is critical for attaining team alignment across the board. In any organisation, leadership alignment can be challenging, given the diversity of cultures, languages, and political systems. Just as a ship with a divided crew will not reach its destination, an organization or government without leadership alignment will not achieve its goals. Leaders must set a clear direction and communicate it effectively to ensure everyone is working towards the same objective. Creating clarity of direction, and getting the support of everyone is critical to achieving strategy execution effectiveness.

The second pillar of strategy execution is accountability. This is like a relay race, where each team member must take responsibility for their part of the race to ensure the team achieves the best possible result. In Africa and many local businesses that operate here, accountability is often lacking, with leaders blaming external factors for their failures. However, just as a relay team cannot win if each member does not take responsibility for their part, organizations and governments cannot succeed if they do not hold themselves accountable for their actions. An effective accountability mechanism is essential to winning.

The third pillar of strategy execution is effective and clear processes. Think of a well-oiled machine, where each part works seamlessly with the others to achieve the desired outcome. If your business processes are fragmented and inefficient, with duplication of effort and silos of information, you experience a lot of productivity leakages and cannot go far. However, just as a machine will not work if one part is broken, your business cannot achieve its goals with processes that are not optimized and streamlined. To win, fix the processes. Conduct a business process review to identify areas of inefficiencies.

Effective strategy execution requires the right people. Just like a football team, where each player must understand their role and work together to achieve victory. People are the most valuable asset but also a challenge, with issues of education, skills, and diversity if not well identified and managed with the right recognition of diversity, equity and inclusion. However, just as a football team cannot win if the players do not understand their roles and work together, organizations and governments cannot achieve their goals if their people are not properly trained, motivated, and engaged.

And finally, strategy execution requires the right culture. This is like the air we breathe, unseen but essential for life. Culture can be a significant barrier to successful strategy execution, with deep-rooted beliefs and practices that can be difficult to change. Just as we cannot survive without air, organizations and governments cannot succeed without a culture that supports their goals and values.

Want to become a successful leader?

Focus on effective strategy execution. It requires all five of these pillars to be in place, like the legs of a table that keep it stable and strong. Work to align leadership to hold themselves accountable, optimize processes, engage people, and foster a high-performance culture.

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