Execution is often handled poorly for the following reasons:
Managers are trained to formulate, not execute. Execution is learned in the school of ‘hard knocks’ with many mistakes along the way to successful results.
Some managers believe execution can be left to low-level managers who then get the blame when things go wrong. Execution requires ownership at all levels of management. Formulation and execution are highly interrelated, requiring extensive interaction between the ‘doers’ and ‘planners’.
Execution takes longer than planning. The longer the execution takes, the more likely it is that unforeseen circumstances will come along and derail it.
Strategy execution always involves more people than strategy formulation. Understanding how to get people committed and with ownership to the strategy is critical to success.
Execution can itself be a source of competitive advantage. If there is a series of internally consistent, integrated activities, competitors find imitation is almost impossible.
Most companies underestimate the leadership required to execute new strategies and few plan for the leadership requirements as a starting point during formulation of the strategy. Leadership often makes the difference between success and failure, strategy will not succeed in a void and. Most chief executives will agree that leadership is important, yet few assess their leadership gap precisely.
Even if an organisation has sufficient leaders many have a mismatch in skill capabilities, examples include: 1. too many left brain types with gaps in the people side, 2. too many engineers and not enough business builders, etc.
Implementation can place real pressure on day-to-day operations, to the extent that activities with longer term outcomes, such as people development, is dropped. If a company stretches its leaders too far, their effectiveness will take a nosedive. Unfortunately during periods of significant change one critical miss-step can jeopardise the whole strategy.