Execution is one of the heartbeats of any business productivity, yet it has proven to be a challenge for many institutions. Further afield, Harvard Business Review indicates that about 66% to 75% of large organisations struggle with execution, with executives attributing poor execution to a lack of alignment and weak performance culture.
Closer to home, come break-away to an exotic location to get the creative juices burning and craft the blueprint or immerse ourselves in business model canvasses; there is no shortage of time. However, as soon as teams are back, there is a tendency to fall back in routines and so the pitfalls of translating strategy into results begin to haunt the organisation. These well-orchestrated plans suddenly take a backbench and find themselves on the periphery of folders if not gathering dust in the cupboards, only to be pulled out at quarterly reviews. This is supported by Bain & Company, which finds that companies invest enormous amounts of time and energy formulating plans and its budget, and executives grappling with deviations find it as a lack of discipline that undercuts execution. Execution is defined as the ability to seize opportunities aligned with strategy while coordinating with other parts of the organisation on an ongoing basis. Further, as the task management guide elucidate, task execution is synonymous with task implementation and time limits attached to it based on priorities.
When it comes to translating those grand plans into executable and tangible actions to attain the organisational goals, then real hurdles come to the fore. Better is expected from businesses as the narrative of institution crafting the best of plans, however, implementation is the Achille’s heel, is a song that has been sung over and over; which is detrimental to the economic value chain.
Execution has multiple dimensions and the old adage of eating a big elephant piece by piece remains relevant and in contemporary times, adapting to rapidly evolving environments, including technology, become a critical skill to possess to remain agile.
The demand placed on an organisation ranges from converting strategy into an operational plan to cascading the KPIs to all layers of the organisation through a performance management system, if not prioritising and attaching time limits, which demands agility.
It all boils down to ownership, more often than not, you have more brainpower in the room advising, providing guidance and facilitating. However, optimising resources to set things in motion, thereafter, and take accountability for the failure and success individually and collectively warrants deep introspection. This is to avoid the trap and never-ending cycle of the buck getting passed on from pillar to post. Franklin Covey finds that execution is difficult and emphasised the discipline to execute with excellence and precision. Highlighting that the “whirlwind” of urgent activity required to keep things going daily consumes the time and energy needed to implement the strategy for tomorrow.
The building blocks of execution is ultimately an aggregate of small actions, such actions compounded make up tangible output that we can measure that translate into impact, ultimately is the small things we do every day without losing focus of what the future requires of us. Similarly, the theory of focusing on strategy and long terms initiatives rather than focusing on tasks is at time taken out of context. Simply put, if all hands are on deck towards strategy, it leaves less room to pick up the slack on execution which requires consistency.
The ability for timely execution of tasks aligned to company architecture or blueprint towards a common purpose to grow businesses, ultimately hinges on performance and competitiveness. Therefore, when we speak performance, we cannot only speak strategy execution, keeping a firm grip on day-to-day tasks that are cascaded from overarching goals with foresight on the future is the ingredients. This requires proper planning, discipline and personal effectiveness all the way to the c-suite level. So, let us avoid pitfalls that hamper execution.
* The opinions expressed in the article at that of the author alone and are in no way linked to any affiliates.