Lights, Camera, ACTION

Managers often find the disciplines surrounding developing and setting vision and strategy to be stimulating and fun. However, the ultimate difference between success and mediocrity for any company is the ability to execute strategy with excellence. As Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan state in their book, Execution, “The ultimate difference between a company and its competition is, in fact, the ability to execute.” The bottom line – STRATEGY IS NOTHING WITHOUT ACTION.

CEOs too often overlook the power of developing a detailed plan of action. It is the leader’s job to “make it happen,” aligning and linking the organization to the objectives. The detailed action plan provides a powerful tool to guide and monitor execution. It helps ensure that everyone in the organization understands his/her role in the grand scheme of the strategic plan, and that synergy is achieved across departments and business units.

Execution is a discipline unto itself that needs to be learned. Here are some questions to help guide your thinking when preparing to execute with excellence:

• What tactics (strategic initiatives) will be required to achieve the goals?

• Who will lead each strategic initiative?

• What resources will he/she require to be successful?

• How long will it take to complete each initiative?

• What metrics will be used to track success over the duration of the strategic plan?

• What are the milestones along the way, and when will they be reached?

• What are the key decisions that need to be made?

• What are the positive and negative consequences of success or failure?

The ultimate goal is to channel organizational energies, abilities and knowledge toward achieving the long-term strategic goals. The action plan is a working document, created to assign responsibilities and accountabilities and to ensure full commitment and buy-in. By linking Strategy to Action, it increases the odds of success.