4 Steps to Successful Strategy Execution (With Tips)
Updated August 24, 2023
A woman is sitting at a desk looking at a tablet and there are charts in the background. There is a list titled "Benefits of Strategic Execution" with the bullets:
• Activates initiatives
• Increases engagement
• Provides clarity
Strategy execution is the implementation of a plan that defines specific tasks and goals. If your role includes implementing strategies in the workplace, then learning more about strategy execution could be useful.
In this article, we discuss strategy execution, including the keys to successful execution, the main approaches to this process, four steps to successful strategy execution and tips to guide you.
What is strategy execution?
Strategic execution is implementing a strategic plan to achieve an organization's goals. Strategic execution uses processes, systems or a series of decisions to clarify goals for employees and define steps or actions the company needs to take to reach its goals.
It's helpful to consider which of these approaches is best to implement your strategy.
Keys to successful strategy execution
Below are some of the primary elements of successful strategy execution:
Before embarking on strategy execution, spending ample time researching and formulating the strategy is beneficial. Many organizations prefer to develop data-backed strategies from historical insights, market conditions and competitor activity.
Collect and analyze relevant information when formulating your strategy to ensure you develop ideas and aims that align with objective data. That could help you decide on a realistic strategy to execute and address the organization's primary needs.
Strategic planning is another fundamental component of this practice. Once your team understands the strategy and how it benefits the organization, you can work together to understand how to implement it at all levels.
During strategic planning, you can analyze the company's needs and determine how to address logistical concerns. Decide on your approach to key elements, such as:
Resources: Develop a budget and involve key decision-makers to determine how you plan to allocate resources to enable your strategy.
Timeline: Solidify any important deadlines and create a timeline for executing various parts of your strategy.
Goals: When goal-setting, discuss specific strategic objectives for each team or individual executing the strategy, ensuring each goal links back to the company's overall vision and purpose.
With proper planning, you can ensure that all teams across a department or organization understand the mission. It's crucial that everyone has access to the same information and understands what the organization's strategic goals and practical expectations are.
Business leaders must oversee employees' performances to assess everyone's progress toward strategy execution.
Because different teams, departments, business units and individual employees each have unique responsibilities during the execution of a business strategy, it's crucial to determine benchmarks by which you can measure success. Proper performance management also allows you to correct activities that fail to meet expectations.
For example, if one of the strategic projects involves reaching a new target audience, the creative team might design assets they feel reach that demographic.
If insights reveal these visual assets attract the wrong demographic, the strategy team can work with the designers to address these issues and create new assets that better target the desired audience.
The performance manager empowers teams to improve their execution in real-time and rapidly respond to changes or feedback.
Because strategies can be wide-reaching, involving the entire company, managers often refine the messaging to ensure a solid understanding across the organization. It's also essential to foster an environment of open communication so employees can express their feedback about the strategy and its execution.
Successful strategy execution also requires investments from employees, so addressing their concerns and involving them in the process of refining approaches and planning to meet strategic goals could increase their interest.
You can promote communication during strategy execution with tools such as:
Surveys: Issuing anonymous surveys could encourage employees to share honest thoughts without fear.
Team meetings: When a leadership team clearly articulates the vision for the strategy, employees can ask clarifying questions and share concerns.
Collaborative projects: Interdisciplinary aspects of a strategy may require different teams to work together, enabling participants to share their perspectives.
Before committing to a strategy, ensure your team has the infrastructure and resources to execute it effectively. One way to improve the likelihood of successful strategy execution is to designate the correct scale for your team.
To maximize an organization's operational effectiveness and overall capacity, implement proper processes to protect you from unexpected setbacks. Best practices for scaling accordingly include:
Testing: Implementing a detailed protocol for testing new technologies, processes and products can help you meet your internal quality standards during strategy execution.
Standardization: Creating and documenting standardized instructions for repeatable processes could enable a team to execute a strategy effectively.
Continuous improvement: Many teams implement practices to promote ongoing growth to ensure you're achieving competitive results.
Tools: Using tools, such as equipment, software programs and frameworks, could help you simplify your execution.
What are the benefits of strategy execution?
Strategy execution can benefit a company and its employees in these ways:
Strategy execution helps a business to clarify and achieve its goals. It defines tasks and assigns each to an employee, with details on how and when to complete the task. Strategy execution emphasizes communication and ensures that information gets shared with all participants.
Strategic execution engages interested parties, senior leaders and their teams in the planning process. This is beneficial for accomplishing goals because more people are working toward a common achievement. Engaging employees also aids in job satisfaction by letting them play a role in the decision-making processes that affect them.
Strategy execution helps activate company initiatives by implementing plans to further goals. This helps companies with growth and innovation. For example, an initiative may be to diversify the workplace, and a strategy can help activate this initiative by including processes that require the company to hire more diverse talent.
Mainstream approaches to strategy execution
There are three different approaches to strategy execution that are common in business:
Approach strategy execution as a process
One approach to strategy execution is to view it as a process. A process can help identify important aspects of strategy execution and define the steps a team needs to take to implement the strategy. When you approach strategy execution as a process, it's important to identify the following:
People: Determining who the strategy involves is essential in planning the strategy. Consider who your interested parties, employees, business owners, executives and consumers are and analyze how they fit into your strategy.
Strategy: Developing a strategy with the goals you want to accomplish and the steps to achieve them is critical to strategy execution.
Operations: Determine what software systems, teams or workflows to involve in the strategy. Identifying the tools your team needs to implement the strategy is a benefit of using a process that helps ensure preparedness.
Approach strategy execution as a system
You can also approach strategy execution as a system. A system is an organized set of procedures or principles that managers can use to guide the execution of strategy. This approach outlines these six stages to implement the strategy:
Develop the strategy. When you develop a strategy, decide on a method for implementing your plan. This involves channels for communication, identification of those the strategy affects and the goals a strategy seeks to accomplish.
Create a plan for the strategy. The second stage of the strategy execution system is to outline the plan for accomplishing the goals. This plan defines tasks and identifies the employee or team responsible for completing them.
Align the strategy with company goals. Business strategies must align with company goals to help the business achieve its objectives. You can ensure the strategy helps achieve company goals by choosing performance metrics associated with the goal you want to accomplish.
Coordinate business operations. Coordinating operations means scheduling regular meetings to discuss progress with strategy implementation. It's important to discuss the progress at each stage of implementation in case the strategy needs adjustments.
Monitor the performance of the strategy and the team. While strategy execution is in progress, managers can monitor the progress of goals and each team member. Use task management software to help track employee progress and receive updates on task completion.
Test and adjust the strategy. The final stage in a strategy execution system is to test the strategy in your company. Implementing a new strategy in one department at a time is helpful because the small scale helps reduce risk and shows how successful the strategy is.
Approach strategy execution as a decision-making process
Some approach strategy execution as a decision-making process. This involves a series of decisions that help you implement a strategy.
For example, if a sales team uses the decision-making process approach to strategy execution, they might list questions and topics they want to make decisions about, such as their target audience, product offers and marketing budget. The sales team would then use the following steps to make their decision:
Identify the issue. Determine the issue and what decision you want to make.
Collect information. Gather details about the problem and who or what your decision may affect.
Consider alternatives. Before deciding, consider all the possibilities to solve the problem.
Decide. Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each choice and then make your decision.
This approach helps the team to understand the strategy and create a pattern in decision-making that leads to a successful business strategy.
4 steps for strategy execution
You can follow these four steps to help you execute your strategy:
1. Create a plan for communication
Proper communication can help to ensure the success of your execution strategy. Make a plan to facilitate team communication at each step of strategy implementation.
Scheduling regular meetings and choosing a channel for daily communication, such as email, can help facilitate communication. Managers can establish clear communication among their teams by being excellent communicators.
2. Identify goals
To execute a strategy, identify your goals and what you want to accomplish, such as updating technology systems to increase efficiency. By identifying goals, managers can develop the steps to reach the goal successfully.
For this example, the strategy may involve getting new computers, updating software and training employees on how to use the software.
3. Determine tasks and priorities
With goals established, managers can determine which tasks to complete to accomplish them. It's also helpful to prioritize these tasks, so that team members know when to complete each one.
In determining tasks, consider who on the team is best suited for each job and ensure they know how and when to aim for task completion. Using a project management tool, such as a process diagram, can help organize steps in a strategy.
4. Evaluate the strategy
The last step of strategy execution is to evaluate your strategy. You and your teammates can use performance metrics to determine how effective the strategy is and where you can improve.
One way to evaluate your strategy is to gather feedback from the team. This can provide valuable insight into goals, task completion, processes and workflows.
Related: 16 Process Metrics To Track
Tips for strategy execution
Here are some tips to help improve strategy execution in your workplace:
Involve the team in planning
Involving any personnel the strategy includes or affects in strategy execution and development can help with implementation. Employees who help develop strategies and create plans to implement them gain a better understanding of the strategy, which can help quickly accomplish steps in the plan.
Team members who play a role in creating a strategy may be more accepting of the changes the strategy introduces.
Create a strategy to fit your workplace culture
Consider the culture that exists in the workplace when crafting new strategies. For example, if your team's culture encourages the use of technology, it might be appropriate to implement a strategy that heavily incorporates computer software. The strengths of your workplace culture can help the implementation of a strategy.
Help team members stay organized
Organizational skills impact strategy execution positively. Organization can help employees keep track of their tasks, communicate regularly and meet goals. It's useful to give team members tools that help them stay organized. For example, process maps can help define and assign tasks. Time-tracking tools could also help manage time more effectively.
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