"Strategy without execution is meaningless. Execution without engagement is impossible."-- Me
Sounds pretty profound, doesn't it? When you read the words, and look closely at their meaning, they're so true. Think about it... if you have a strategy and you don't execute on it, who cares that you even had a strategy to begin with? And if you try to execute but your people are not on board, do you even have a hope of making anything happen?
So, how can you tell if your company is actually executing your strategy through people? Ask yourself these 10 questions and see how well you do.
1. Do leaders share a consistent view and interpretation of the strategy? Does your plan mean the same thing to everyone? Are you guys at the top on the same page about what you want to do with the organization?
2. Are your people ready, willing, and able to execute your strategy? Do you have employees who are on board with what you're tying to accomplish? Are they capable of helping you get where you need to go?
3. Do the behaviors of the leadership team support the strategy? The way the top tier acts is going to set the pace and tone for how everyone else follows. Leaders have to model the behavior they want the rest of the company to emulate.
4. Do leaders put the good of the company ahead of their functions? This is where we talk of 'owning the whole' before any individual piece. Are the people at the helm looking out for the big picture before their individual departments or functions?
5. Do managers communicate the strategy clearly and consistently? Are people the next level down getting the message of the strategy and their role in helping to achieve it getting the right message?
6. Do managers review progress on goals with their people? You've got to check in along the way, otherwise there is no way for employees to see how they're doing and if they're contributing to the company's ability to execute on the strategy.
7. Does your front line understand the marketplace and the strategy? The people closest to your customers really need a firm grasp on what the playing field looks like and how you're intending to win.
8. Can the front line connect their contributions to company goals? Once they understand it, that's a great first step, but can they see how what they do each day in each customer interaction impacts the bigger picture?
9. Are opportunities to learn relevant skills available to everyone? When asking people to do new things, take on different responsibilities, or participate in a way they aren't used to, you've also got to make sure they have the tools and skills training available to beef up what they bring to the table. Without the right resources and training, they won't be able to deliver, but the blame will be on you.
10. Do your people know what winning looks like to you? If you have the strategy, and the execution, and the people on board, how will the end of your story go? What does it look like when you win? And have you shown that picture to your people so they can visualize what it is they're working to help achieve?
If you answered 'yes' to most or all of these questions (and their sub-questions), then you're in pretty good shape - your people must get it when it comes to your strategy. More often, however, leaders are answering 'no' to most of these. It's a true challenge that so many companies struggle with year after year. But if you look at these questions and answer honestly, you're likely to get on the right track to executing your strategy through your people.
Are you already humming along, with your people making your strategy happen right before your eyes? Tell me about it in the comments! I love hearing great strategy execution stories.