Business Strategy Execution Depends on Accountability

It Looked Good on Paper

Companies spend significant time, effort, and money developing business strategies designed to provide focus, motivate employees, and drive results. However, following their initial roll-out, how often does the business strategy fall victim to business as usual? And more important, why do strategies suffer time and again from systematic erosion of meaning and momentum?

Could it be that the strategy lacked meaning and relevance in the first place? After all, it looked so good on paper! I’m not a strategy expert, but a quick internet search will garner necessary support for developing a proper strategy for your business. However, I am an execution expert and that is what I want to focus on here.

You Know What They Say About Assumptions

I believe there are two real roadblocks to successful strategy execution: assumptions and accountability. Let’s start with assumptions.

After the excitement of the new year, new goals, new strategy, and sales kickoff subsides everyone returns to their day jobs. And, after a flurry of meetings, senior leaders are confident that everyone understands their marching orders. Therefore, they assume:

  • The strategy is clear, concise, and relevant
  • Everyone knows exactly what they need to contribute
  • Employees understand the importance of their work and effort
  • Managers will routinely communicate and reinforce the strategy
  • Departments have processes in place for monitoring progress

These assumptions may be fair, but they fail to take into account the gravitational pull of the status quo.

Execution is the result of thousands of decisions made every day by employees acting according to the information they have and their own self-interest.

Gary L Neilson, Karla L. Martin, Elizabeth Powers, The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution, HBR June 2008

The Value of a Workplace Performance Accountability System

Successful strategy execution requires considerable effort to maintain momentum and focus – effort such as implementing a workplace performance accountability system. A workplace performance accountability system adds value to the organization and its leadership by:

  • Validating or eliminating assumptions
  • Identifying and prioritizing employees’ high impact work products
  • Forming a foundation for aligning goals and objectives
  • Providing structure for disseminating information
  • Creating a cadence for continuous communications
  • Removing obstacles that impede success
  • Determining criteria and methods for monitoring and measuring progress

Your business strategy is only as good as its execution plan. If your strategy contains critical components and many moving parts then it deserves an execution plan with rigor and discipline. Experienced, dedicated, and well-intentioned managers may feel confident about how to proceed and even comfortable about achieving results. Regardless, a workplace performance accountability system will contribute stability, structure, and sustainability to an otherwise individualized ad hoc execution process.

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