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What ensures success ? Strategy (vs) Execution

  • Moksh Krishnan

    Calendar 19-06-2020

    5 minutes read 6 minutes read

    Guide Guide

What ensures success ? Strategy (vs) Execution

A certain conversation I had with one of the early prospects reminded me of Alice’s conversation with Cheshire-Cat, in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland :



“Cheshire-Cat,” said Alice, 

“Please could you tell me which way I should go?”


 “That depends on where you want to go,” the Cheshire-Cat answered.


 “I don’t care,” said Alice.


Well it doesn’t matter then, does it?” the Cheshire-Cat said.


 “As long as I get somewhere,” said Alice quickly.


 As business owners, we need to think about the approach to growing our businesses. 


Most of the time when the core team fails to attain customers through marketing activities, it Is when I was brought in as a marketing strategist with unicorn agency with strategy plus design and marketing executions. 


When I reviewed their “strategies” I could see that they used the word loosely – not that this is uncommon. They acknowledge that they can’t seem to get it right, but most entrepreneurs fail to define an honest definition of strategy, by honest I mean definition as per the current annual requirements of the business. 


 It’s one thing to design a strategy in the boardroom and quite another to get it operating at all levels of the organization. You’ll mistake individual action for strategy. And that can be disastrous. The company’s managers often confuse a strategy’s design with its execution. Recognizing the difference between these two will have a major and positive impact on your business’s performance. Outlining the company’s “Mission, Vision, Strategies, and Actions,” not necessarily means that the strategy document contains a real execution-able strategy. 


The reason executive teams struggle with strategy design is that they don’t adopt organization-level thinking at the start. They rush to execution at a strategy retreat because they invariably arrive ready to address what they need to do. 


Unless the doing impulse is switched off, until the design is ready, the cart gets put before the horse. This has clients leaving their retreat with a hodgepodge of actions but still no clear idea of where the organization is heading or how it differs from competitors in the marketplace. 





BUT on the other hand, people also love to use strategy as a disguise for non-action. The strategy shouldn’t be a bug on execution windshield. As Gary Vaynerchuk famously says, “you can’t just read about doing push-ups and expect results.”


But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read about the correct position to do a push-up and then setting yourself a strategy and action plan to get down on the floor and “give me 10 more”.  


The Future of Work is going to be with Nexus of Strategy and Execution The five principles to guide to ensure executable strategy:- 


 1. Narrow Your Focus: I recall starting days of our agency, we used to commit to strategies we knew were impossible to execute in 12 months retainer, but if I said no, the other agency owner walking in would say yes. It took me, 3 clients, telling me, 

“I don’t know why we do this. each month we meet. We write all this stuff down and hardly any of it gets done.” with some courage and experience I could tell my clients “better to aim for a few important things for the year and celebrate success when they’re achieved.” 


 2. Make the Statements Imperative: If we have chosen 3 strategy statements for execution in a certain period, we must translate them into action. “Action” is often confused with “activity.” 

As I experienced with one of our clients, we wanted the core leadership to become part of the content creation pipeline for the Customer awareness program. 

Assigning the completion by a certain date in action. whereas the use of a gerund like “blog writing by core leaders” denotes no more than an ongoing process. It’s not addressed to anyone.



 3. Give the Statements Real Owners: The very nature of strategy statements works against their execution. They’re developed at the organization level but implementing them involves individuals in specific departments. We’re jumping from one level to another and there needs to be an owner appointed to each strategy statement. 



4. Separate Your Strategy Meetings: To ensure all are moving in a progressive direction, the strategy needs to have it’s own review meetings, They can’t be merged with “management meetings” which are operational in focus and, continuing the cascade, weekly meetings to schedule “production for the week.


5. Appoint a Monitor: Numbers are important, no doubt. “what gets measured, gets done.”They certainly help to attract peoples’ scrutiny, and they should be employed in any evaluation. But what we respond to is attention from other people – especially if that attention comes from our boss. The hierarchical structure of organizations dictates this. A vital step, assign someone in authority to call statement owners to account by regularly inquiring about execution progress



Execution is essentially knocking things off the “to do” list. 

Strategy determines what should be on that list, 

and those decisions are upstream of execution. 

And it’s where the big impact…comes.