Successful business involves achieving a delicate balance between strategy and execution. Some companies have great plans that never become operational due to poor execution. Others meander through a maze of daily fires with great urgency and never find the time to plan their future.
The key to successful execution is a shift from a process/activity-oriented thinking to an outcome/systems-oriented approach. This requires management to view organizations as a "system" of individual parts and manage it accordingly. They need to recognize the impact of their actions isn’t localized in scope or timing. Their decisions affect other parts of the organization and can have future consequences. To operate effectively, managers need to identify the key levers that affect the performance of their organization at a systems level and incorporate them into their decision-making process. Here are a few considerations:
- Integrate strategy into execution. Execution is where the rubber meets the road. To realize strategy, management has to weave it into the fabric of day-to-day execution to create a unique design for their business. This allows the organization to operate successfully-even within a business environment relentless in its demand for immediate results.
- Focus on results. It’s critical to keep the organization focused on business outcome. All activities, processes, and planning should be centered on the outcome. This moves the organization to a results-oriented mindset, drives clarity, and naturally promotes collaboration and innovation.
- Leverage the underlying dynamics of the organization. Organizations operate through a combination of small and large initiatives, strategic and tactical projects, and transactional work streams. Resources often are a mishmash of dedicated, shared, distributed, and/or outsourced. Each of these models has a very different dynamic. Managers often treat these different work streams with a common policy. Instead, the desired outcome of an initiative should dictate the mix of resources and the dynamics of the project while leveraging the underlying dynamic of the organziation.
- Deal with interactions. There are constant interactions between deliverables, activities, resources, and projects-not only within, but also external to, the organization. Changes at one level affect the current and future results of others. Unless managed, these interactions lead to unplanned rework, cost and schedule overruns, and erosion of quality. By proactively identifying, mapping, and managing these interactions, skilled managers can substantially improve the effectiveness of the organization.
- Actively manage the risk and uncertainty. Often, management doesn’t want to hear about potential business risks, and the organization is trained to conveniently ignore them. This approach guarantees disaster. Business uncertainty and risks are, in fact, the most valuable pieces of information about a project. Proactively identifying key business risks and developing options to deal with them early in project lifecycles can substantially increase the throughput of the organization and probability of success of the project. This allows management to transform potential pitfalls into opportunities.
Mastery over the art and science of execution will define the leaders of tomorrow. IBI