Plan and Execute Strategy with Confidence

Successful strategic execution depends on leadership and talent alignment. When a leadership team is moving in the same direction and aligns team dynamics, culture, and organization with strategy, they eliminate the friction that impacts meeting strategic goals. In this executive session, leaders rally around well-defined strategic objectives, identify natural behavioral strengths and gaps, and take action to purposefully build a talent strategy that maximizes the odds of boosting performance and results.

You’ve set organizational goals and formulated a strategic plan. Now, how do you ensure it gets done?


Strategy execution is the implementation of a strategic plan in an effort to reach organizational goals. It comprises the daily structures, systems, and operational goals that set your team up for success.


Even the best strategic plans can fall flat without the right execution. In fact, 90 percent of businesses fail to reach their strategic goals, which researchers believe is due to a gap between strategic planning and execution.


“If you’ve looked at the news lately, you’ve probably seen stories of businesses with great strategies that have failed,” says Harvard Business School Professor Robert Simons, who teaches the online course Strategy Execution. “In each case, we find a business strategy that was well formulated but poorly executed.”


How can you equip yourself and your team to implement the plans you’ve crafted? Here are five keys to successful strategy execution you can use at your organization.


Commit to a Strategic Plan

Before diving into execution, it’s important to ensure all decision-makers and stakeholders agree on the strategic plan.


Research shows that 71 percent of employees in companies with weak execution believe strategic decisions are second-guessed, as opposed to 45 percent of employees from companies with strong execution.


Committing to a strategic plan before beginning implementation ensures all decision-makers and their teams are aligned on the same goals. This creates a shared understanding of the larger strategic plan throughout the organization.


Strategies aren’t stagnant they should evolve with new challenges and opportunities. Communication is critical to ensuring you and your colleagues start on the same page and stay aligned as time goes on.


Align Jobs to Strategy

One barrier many companies face in strategy execution is that employees’ roles aren’t designed with strategy in mind.


This can occur when employees are hired before a strategy is formulated, or when roles are established to align with a former company strategy.


In Strategy Execution, Simons posits that jobs are optimized for high performance when they line up with an organizational strategy. He created the Job Design Optimization Tool (JDOT) that individuals can use to assess whether their organization's jobs are designed for successful strategy execution.


The JDOT assesses a job’s design based on four factors, or “spans”: control, accountability, influence, and support.


“Each span can be adjusted so that it’s narrow or wide or somewhere in between,” Simons writes . “I think of the adjustments as being made on sliders, like those found on music amplifiers. If you get the settings right, you can design a job in which a talented individual can successfully execute your company’s strategy. But if you get the settings wrong, it will be difficult for any employee to be effective.”


Communicate Clearly to Empower Employees

When it comes to strategy execution, the power of clear communication can’t be overlooked. Given that a staggering 95 percent of employees don’t understand or are unaware of their company’s strategy, communication is a skill worth improving.


Strategy execution depends on each member of your organization's daily tasks and decisions, so it’s vital to ensure everyone understands not only the company's broader strategic goals, but how their individual responsibilities make achieving them possible.


Data outlined in the Harvard Business Review shows that 61 percent of staff at strong-execution companies believe field and line employees are given the information necessary to understand the bottom-line impact of their work and decisions. In weak-execution organizations, just 28 percent believe this to be true.


To boost your organization’s performance and empower your employees, train managers to communicate the impact of their team's daily work, address the organization in an all-staff meeting, and foster a culture that celebrates milestones on the way to reaching large strategic goals.