The Challenge to the C-Suite: How to Build Execution Into Strategy [Excerpt]

Editor’s Note: Below is an excerpt from the article “The Challenge to the C-Suite: How to Build Execution Into Strategy,” written by Adia Manea and published in the latest edition of Performance Magazine. It presents trends, solutions, and best practices for strategy and performance management through in-depth articles, first-hand how-to’s, concept presentations, case studies, and expert insights.

Strategies remain strategies until they are executed. Why is it hard for some organizations to translate what transpires in the boardroom into action?

Only 3% of the 1,526 business professionals who responded to a global survey commissioned by the American Management Association in 2019 said that their organizations were “very successful” at executing strategies.

In today’s business climate, it is critical to adopt a performance management system that makes the parts of an organization operating asynchronously to stick together like puzzle pieces. This leads to real initiatives for change and supports decision makers as they forge ahead or change course as necessary. 

A Roadmap for Results

How can leaders build execution into strategy and generate results from strategy analysis and planning? First, let’s assess the existing challenges. Although there are hundreds of failed strategies, they do not serve as a lesson. Nevertheless, researchers noticed a list of issues that stamped the misalignment of activities to corporate strategy over the years. According to Forbes, unclear communication and priorities, the lack of coordination across units, the silo behavior (unwillingness of a group to share information with another group), resistance to change, and the lack of performance culture are persistent factors that shift away the efficiency of execution from the strategy plan. 

The silo behavior prevents organizations from becoming agile, and this aspect still dominates the corporate culture. Only 9% of managers say that they can rely on colleagues in the company all the time, according to a research conducted by Harvard Business Review (HBR). Unfortunately, when confronted with this perspective, the need to compensate appears, but the result undermines the strategy as without help, they duplicate efforts, overdue the deadline or cannot meet promises made to customers. 

The same study shows that 30% of managers recognize that the failure of coordination across departments increases the chances for the performance commitments to not be reached. It also intervenes in the poor quality of performance culture as it may not promote support among units. The resistance to adapt to market circumstances is a major obstacle for an effective execution. But companies do not always fail to adapt at all. 

The problem is that most organizations react slowly to the change so there is a risk of not being able to embrace fleeting opportunities. Being reluctant to change activates the incapacity of mitigating emerging threats or even losing sight of the strategic direction.

Designing a performance management architecture leads to a bird’s view of the actual context and progress of projects or processes conducted internally. By approaching a set of performance management practices, a better structure, alignment, integration, and use of what is already in place will dominate the organizational context. In other words, the organizational strategy is digested through an integrated performance management system.

Companies must develop a strategy execution framework that aligns projects with initiatives to achieve their desired results. The project-based work is composed of activities that bring the organizational state closer to specific goals. By looking into project portfolios, one can assess the strategies in which the company chose to invest. The aim of the strategy execution framework is to align the project portfolios with the strategy. Once implemented, the framework adds a filter to the way management leads and executes in the sense that the steps taken are towards executing the strategy and not just walking around it.

Now, what is the connection between the performance management system and the strategy execution framework? Imagine the process of strategy execution as an octopus. The head is the performance management system in which the strategy is fragmented through the vision, mission, values, objectives and initiatives, while the arms are the projects conducted in portfolios that convey the alignment of resources and align with the overall strategy.

Discover how organizations can overcome strategy execution challenges by reading the rest of the article in the latest edition of Performance Magazine. Download your FREE COPY now!

The KPI Institute March 29th, 2022 Research Tags: , ,