HBR Post: Strategy and the Uncertainty Excuse

Go to HBR. Read this. Please. (click here).

Absolutely superb, superb article. The last paragraph is a killer!

Without making an effort to ‘do strategy,’ though, a company runs the risk of its numerous daily choices having no coherence to them, of being contradictory across divisions and levels, and of amounting to very little of meaning. It doesn’t have to be so. But it continues to be so because these leaders don’t believe there is a better way.

So many companies we have seen fall into this trap. We refer to this amongst ourselves as the ‘tactical trap’; and which has also been called the ‘bias-for-action trap’.

Tactics. Execution. Strategy. Planning. THESE ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

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How do you ensure you have the right strategy?

Are Strategy and Execution two different things? How do you ensure you have the right strategy? How do you ensure that strategy is executed well? If a great strategy produces poor results, how can we argue that it is great?  Are execution problems symptoms of trouble upstream in the strategy-development process?

 

Of course, Strategy and Execution are two different things, but let us start with the last question – Yes, to a large extent, execution problems emerge due wrong strategy (*** Don’t jump on to conclusion that right strategy exists). Some leaders argue that a non-executable strategy is not a strategy in essence; this is little too harsh statement for the most admired business concept “Strategy” – A Strategy that seems non-executable for one organization, can do wonders for others; it is just identifying the right catalysts while formulating a strategy. Right Catalysts?

Right Catalysts – Go back to the old school thoughts, core-competencies/ capabilities. It is important first step to identify your capabilities to start developing a “Capability-Based Strategy” – In reference to the given questions, I will term it as the Right Strategy. Then analyze the capabilities based on your identified target market/ pond to fish (Remember capabilities can become weaknesses if right “Pond to Fish” is not selected). Another important factor to consider here is organization’s strategic landscape i.e. does the management want to make a short-term strategy and let the company emerge from its current position or the focus is long-term destination (*** Changes in the Strategic Landscape can make the right strategy wrong – After making a short-term strategy, it is insane to define long-term gains).

Execution Excellence is a vast subject, but at the core, it heavily depends on organizational culture and structure e.g. in a fairly horizontal organization where many people at different levels are empowered to take decisions regarding the pieces of strategic initiatives, the only drive could be integrating/ aligning people and process to achieve excellence; in other environments, there could be other drivers such change management.

Great Strategy, Poor Results – Not a right fit!