Posts Tagged ‘execution’

Strategy: A Two-Step Dance

September 25, 2014

Very little planned change in any organization, community or individual occurs without strategy. It’s a core competence that requires deliberate attention. Far too often, it shows up in  a simplistic process at the annual retreat. Sometimes it is implicit and embedded in conversations about routine functions.

But, great managers know that strategy is the map that provides direction to daily decisions and actions. Once talent and capital are in hand, strategy is job 1. It has  just two steps and both are critical.

 

strat2x2

The matrix above offers a quick way to think about the two steps. Strategy formulation and execution are equally important. One without the other has little value. When both are sound then there’s “a  good chance” of securing intended progress. When one or both are flawed, we can explain deficits in progress and bad results.

Accountability provides the “glue” for any effort that relies on strategy to improve and perform. It makes both steps relevant by specifying individual and shared ownership. In any organization, accountability occurs through relationships and structures that review performance. Formal and informal reviews specify expectations, competencies, attributes and results among participants. Without accountability –  wander, squander, delays, decline and failure are likely. With it, the “dance” can deliver value.

When assessing your program or organization’s progress, look carefully at formulation and execution. Ensure there are explicit high-quality processes for both, along with robust accountability.

(For lots more on strategy, see past tinker posts, like: Ten Good Strategy Questions-July 2010, Avoid Strategy Sabotage-October 2012, Great Plans Adjust-June 2012)

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com

Slaying Goliath

March 2, 2014

goliath

David, a shepherd boy, killed Goliath with a stone slung at his exposed forehead. He won the battle against all expectations. His victory relied on great strategy and skills.

David was a slinger. His weapon was a leather pouch attached on two sides by a long length of rope. Slingers were part of ancient armies. These warriors used a rock or lead ball hurled by a sling at their enemies. Slinging required extraordinary skills honed by extensive practice.

With considerable courage, using the advantages of speed and maneuverability, David ran directly at Goliath in his attack. David hit the one point of the giant’s vulnerability, knocked him unconscious, then killed Goliath by his own sword.

The outcome of this battle challenges common assumptions about power. We assume, in error, that big and strong always wins. But, it is possible for speed and surprise coupled with passionate intent to prevail. David’s example provides a two-step recipe: the right strategies with capable execution.

  • What assumptions do we hold about the Goliath we face this week?
  • What studied attention have we given to strategy development?
  • Can we skillfully implement  optimal choices?

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com

Strategic Camps

August 15, 2013

Great strategy is key to creating public or private value.

It helps us with fundamental decisions and actions that shape what any organization is, does and its rationale. Strategy supports results in both the private and social sectors.

Recently, an influential client wanted better strategy to more effectively distribute hundreds of millions in capital. As a small part of our assignment, we helped them reflect on their current strategy development process.

The graphic below, based on analysis by leaders at Booz & Company, maps the history of strategy. This landscape is informed over time by more than a dozen strategy “giants,” experts like Deming, Hamel, Porter, Kim, and Zook.

strathistFINAL

It shows four general camps of thought regarding strategy: adaptation, position, execution and concentration. Each has strengths and challenges. They represent an evolution in thought. The x-axis represents strategy authors. The y-axis is a time orientation focus.

In a practical exercise, we asked each senior executive to identify which quadrant they relied on most to prepare strategy for their program plans and associated budgets. The scatter of dots offered fodder for an important conversation. It supported questions, like:

  • What rationale informs the choice of your “primary” camp?
  • Where would others place their orientation to strategy development?
  • Why is there variation among the camps?
  • What are the strengths and limits of camp features for your context?
  • Should the organization act from the same camp? Why or why not?

As you consider improvements, understanding your current strategy development process is an important step. The historical evolution of camps can certainly inform a  hybrid. Given emerging and powerful factors like data, technology and innovation, there’s no question future camps are forming now.

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com


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