A lot of sources say that the problem with strategy execution is a people problem, not a strategy problem. In fact, an article at Harvard Business Review (HBR) is entitled exactly that.
There is a lot of truth to that sentiment, although, as we have discussed in previous blog posts, we believe that a good strategy considers employee engagement (people) and employee engagement is necessary for successful strategy execution. There is no one without the other.
So is execution really a people problem?
Well…could be…isn’t necessarily…lots of other things could go wrong…but could be. Let’s take the case where it is a people problem – then ask a question.
Who are we talking about when we say “people”?
Managers may be apt to say, “They are! Those people out there on the floor are the problem!”
Those on the floor may be apt to say, “They are! Those people over there in the corner offices are the problem!”
The truth is that it may be both, but it always starts at the top.
A recent request from a reporter
A reporter recently asked, “What are 3 things that are really needed for leading a team?” and we submitted the following as a response:
If permitted, we would have added a 4th – Determination to execute the plan – and a 5th – Flexibility to modify the plan.
Without any of these things, you can hire employees and be in charge, but you can’t lead (big difference) and you especially won’t be leading engaged employees. If you aren’t leading engaged employees, no amount of determination on your end will lead to successful strategy execution.
Why just count on dumb luck? Why not create luck (and outcomes)?
Did you know there is scientific research to suggest that we have an ability to create luck? Doing some of the things discussed in this post are key.
Formulating and communicating a Vision statement, for example. The Vision helps the leader paint the picture for the business or organization. The leader shouldn’t develop the Vision in a vacuum, but has to own it. With a clear Vision (and painted picture), all stakeholders, including employees, can more readily get on board. If they can see it, they can support it. If they can support it, you don’t have to go it alone. If you don’t go it alone, you are more likely to succeed. You create luck.
Having a sense of Purpose beyond the financial aspects of any business or organization is increasingly crucial as the workforce looks more and more to work for companies that can answer the question “Why are we here?” and help the employees answer their own question of “Why am I here?”
Purpose is the emotional hook that gets everyone excited and engaged. For example, our Mission is to provide tools and expertise to help business owners and leaders achieve greater levels of success, but our Purpose is to help people in general feel less overwhelmed and alone.
But you still need a plan. A Vision without a Plan is just daydreaming. A Purpose without a plan is just passion. Both are great for defining where you want to go and why you want to get there, but you need a Plan to serve as the roadmap for the journey.
That Plan cannot reside in the head of the leader. Again, when everyone knows the Plan, it’s easier for everyone to get on board. Duties are more readily delegated. Expectations are more effectively communicated. Everyone knows if what they are doing is moving the organization toward or away from the Vision. You create luck.
Any finally, a Plan without the Determination to execute to it results in chaos
How many times have you developed a plan, perhaps even started executing on it, but then quickly got distracted and just started responding to day-to-day activities rather than executing to any plan.
To really be effective, you have to plan to manage then manage the plan. Even if the plan changes dramatically on a frequent basic due to realities of the day, the act of planning and re-planning helps keep you focused.
That’s what we do
The Plan Canvas process is more than documenting the Vision and Purpose. It’s more than developing plans. It’s tracking results and outcomes, managing the plans, so that you can be more organized and focused, eliminating as much of the chaos as possible.
Contact us to schedule a demo of the software or discuss our consulting services.