Home » Effective Leadership » 3 Things That'll Guarantee Your Strategy Gets Executed
Effective Leadership

3 Things That'll Guarantee Your Strategy Gets Executed

Executive Business Strategy

Having a strategy to grow your business is one thing. Ensuring it gets executed is another thing all together.

I read with interest ‘Why good strategies fail, Lessons for the C-suite’, a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. You can download the report here. The following lines stood out for me:

Senior executives recognize the importance of strategy implementation, but a majority admits that their companies fall short.

A majority of companies either lack the skills or fail to deploy the personnel needed for strategy implementation.”

These 3 will guarantee your strategy gets executed – culture, simplicity, and ownership by employees of their unique piece of your execution map.

  1. Culture

Peter Drucker famously said “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Culture is often described as “the way we do things around here.”

I believe culture is more about who we are which of course dictates what we do.

Corporate anthropologist Michael Henderson explains this extremely well.

He says:

“Culture is what it means to be human here.  (‘Here’ being wherever you are referring to when talking about a culture.)”

At your workplace what does it mean to be human? 

Leadership ManagementWhen I am first engaged by business leaders to work with them and their team I want to know two things – how inspirational is their Leadership and how simple is their management in enabling people to bring their very best to their work every day. When I have a full appreciation of where they are now I can help them to imagine what can be and begin to go there.

Often I discover that processes, policies, procedures, practices, and systems, (PPPPS’s) i.e. management, are more about control than empowerment.

Compliance matters generally stand out and creativity doesn’t.

Usually PPPPS’s are actually inhibiting people from bringing their very best to their work every day. And there is a distinct lack of humanity in how they are structured and presented.

How would you describe your leadership and management?

Are they a catalyst for your employees being the one-of-a-kind human beings that each of us is?

  1. Simplicity

Your strategy and your execution plan are completely different. See them together at your peril. Strategic planning is an oxymoron.

Strategy in simple terms is how you’re going to get where you’re going. It’s a reference point for all decisions you make.

Think of a strategy in the context of maintaining a shared-view with your stakeholders (particularly your employees) in the following areas:

  1. Where you are (reality)
  2. Where you’re going (possibility)
  3. Why you’re going there (purpose)
  4. How you’ll get there (strategy)
  5. Who will do what and when (roles, individual execution plans and conversation about them)
  6. How you’ll know you’re on track (milestones and lead measures)
  7. How you’ll behave along the way (culture and values)

I’ve never seen a successful team of any kind that didn’t have a shared-view in these 7 areas.

About 15 years ago I read a strategic plan at the request of a prospective client. It was 176 pages long.

Not once in the document was the word employee used. When asked for my thoughts I replied as follows:

If you can’t describe your strategy in a sentence, it is very difficult to gain employee buy-in, which means full execution of your strategy is unlikely.

I then expressed my amazement that employees weren’t mentioned in the document. This led to a conversation I cut short because it was clear that my prospect and myself weren’t on the same page regarding strategy!

If you can’t write your movie idea on the back of a business card, you haven’t got a movie.” – Samuel Goldwyn

For several years now I have been helping my clients to describe their strategy in a single sentence. See more in my slideshows about this here.

  1. Ownership

Think of it strategy as a compass and execution a map.

Every employee needs their unique piece of your execution map otherwise the chances of your strategy getting fully executed are zilch.

quilt 2015The perfect execution maps are like quilts with each piece being unique.

When I was a boy I was always fascinated to observe my Grandmother making quilts. She would make one piece at a time and then one day in what seemed like a miracle to me she would stitch everything together revealing a magnificent whole.

When your employees have their piece of the quilt and candid and convivial conversations integral to daily work are held around their piece, you can throw out performance reviews, all the crap associated with performance management, and get your strategy executed.


Culture (“what it means to be human here”) is the foundation for your success.

Simplifying strategy without losing the profound can be described in a sentence. Such strategy emanates from a culture.

Strategy seen in the context of shared-view as described above paves the wave for each employee to create and own their unique piece of your execution map.

These 3 will guarantee your strategy gets executed – culture, simplicity, and ownership by employees of their unique piece of your execution map.

Ian Berry is the best-selling author of Changing What’s Normal. He helps strong businesses to dramatically reduce the cost, time, and effort, stress on people and performance related issues, simply and safely, for lasting results.

Find out more at www.ianberry.biz



Image of Derin Cag
Derin Cag
Founder & CEO
London, UK