75% of organizations struggle to implement strategy. A recent survey of more than 400 global leaders found that executional excellence was the number one challenge, heading a list of some 80 issues, including innovation, geopolitical instability, and top-line growth. Two-thirds to three-quarters of organizations struggle with execution. And it’s no wonder: Research reveals that several common beliefs about implementing strategy are just plain wrong.
- Execution equals alignment: Whereas companies have effective processes for cascading goals downward in the organization, their systems for managing horizontal performance commitments lack teeth.
- Execution means sticking to the plan: After investing enormous amounts of time and energy formulating a plan and its associated budget, executives often view deviations as a lack of discipline that undercuts execution.
- Communication equals understanding: Only half of middle managers can name any of their company’s top five priorities. Only 55% of middle managers can name even one of their company’s top five priorities. Fewer than one-third of the management team could name even two. Just over half of all top team members say they have a clear sense of how major priorities and initiatives fit together.
- A performance culture drives execution: When their companies fail to translate strategy into results, many executives point to a weak performance culture as the root cause. The data tells a different story.
- Execution should be driven from the top: If top executives insist on making the important calls themselves, they diminish managers’ decision-making skills, initiative, and ownership of results.