Why strategy execution fails, part 1 of 10

Figure 1; Misaligned pillars Take a moment to study figure 1. What can you determine from the figures? Ask any leader or manager, why

Figure 1; Misaligned pillars

Take a moment to study figure 1.

What can you determine from the figures?

Ask any leader or manager, why strategy execution fails, and the responses are varied. Many blame a poor culture and weak performance management mechanisms.

Before you consider fixing the monster called “culture” and an automated performance management system, first fix the structure to strategy alignment. Failure to do so affects effective strategy execution difficult. If the structure is not reviewed to align with the new strategic priorities, execution will unravel.

In Figure A, the house is stable because the pillars are properly built to support the structure. There is not only effective alignment but the effective deployment of resources – right built poles are put at right angles to support the structure. You have the roof, which is the scorecard or targets, and the pillars or the departments, systems, and capabilities. All of these are built on a strong foundation of culture and good governance.

In Figure B, the house is not stable. The pillars are not well aligned to support the weight of the roof and the ring beam. Such a house cannot last. In no time, it will come down crumbling. Why? The poor alignment of the key pillars to support the ring-beam and the roof.

Likewise, every time a company develops a new strategy, it must undertake structure to strategy alignment. You need to align the existing departments to the new strategic imperatives to create ownership and accountability. Many times, leaders identify new strategic focus areas but fail to review the company structures to create ownership for the set targets (Figure B). That way, the new strategy is not adequately supported to be executed. You have a new strategy, but people are still organized in their same old departments and are dangling the old job descriptions.

To execute strategy well, always review your structure to align with the new strategy to create the right changes and set the ideal skills, qualifications, and personal specifications to win in the new roles as required by the new strategy. Imagine crafting a new strategy that is to leverage on digital to win, but trying to implement that digital agenda on the old structure under the finance department?

To win, you may consider establishing a new department of process automation and innovation, under IT or the executive office with clearly defined lead and lag indicators, outcomes, and KPIs to champion the digital agenda. Accordingly, you must identify a new person to drive the new department/pillar for effective accountability.

To be continued. Look out for part 2.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020 All rights reserved.

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