The long-standing notion that executives can focus on strategy formulation without a matching emphasis on executing strategy has been proven false. Brilliant strategy followed by mediocre execution can never perform up to expectations. What’s needed is a more comprehensive way of thinking about the enterprise and the alignments required to align strategy with the work going on in the enterprise. The question is "Align what"? Executing Your Strategy provides a coherent definition of alignment, what must be aligned and how alignment is accomplished. The strategic execution framework contained in the book is a powerful tool to help individuals, teams and organizations create the right projects and do the projects right.
Chapter One – Ideation
Clarify and communicate identity purpose and long-range intention. This chapter lays out the alignment between the three elements of purpose, identity and long-range intention and provides a way to gauge the current reality in an organization as well as provides suggestions on what work might be required to improve alignment. Ideation is critical in executing strategy because it comprises the fundamental underpinning of why the organization does what it does, what its brand stands for, and where the enterprise is aimed in the longer view. The reason this is an imperative is that in order to lead an enterprise, there must be an overall context that shapes decisions and therefore actions in the organization that goes well beyond what is possible from a command-and-control perspective.
Chapter Two – Vision
Translate strategy into clear goals and metrics. This chapter examines goals and metrics and strategy that provides insight into actions required to improve alignment between the targets of the company, the measurements used and the strategy itself. What is missing in many organizations is a clear line of sight between where the organization stands today relative to where the organization wants to be. In addition the challenge many organizations face is understanding the measurement system and how it supports the strategy. What is needed is clarity of vision in order to facilitate execution
Chapter Three – Nature
Align the organization’s strategy culture and structure. The adoption of a strategy that will deliver outstanding performance from the organization often requires the organization to do things very differently than what it is accustomed to doing. Culture and structure are often perfectly aligned to create yesterdays results and drastically out of alignment for creating tomorrow’s desired results. This chapter takes a pragmatic look at culture and structure and provides a no nonsense approach to culture and structure alignment that can be used to identify the key opportunities organizations have for creating better results through better alignment.
Chapter 4 – Engagement
Engage the strategy via the project investment stream. Very often this is the area most prone to a shortfall in executive attention. Many executives have a tendency to create a picture of a desired future, pick a strategic direction and then drop it off to the organization to be executed without careful attention to establishing the decision framework for making investment decisions and making sure that the organizational capability and capacity is in place to execute the big picture. This leads to significant organizational dysfunction as people in the organization struggle to succeed without the resources required. This can lead to an overinvestment in an array of activities that are too broad for any of them to be successful. It can also result in a drastic underinvestment in related projects to improve organizational capacity. This chapter provides practical approaches to improving alignment and increasing engagement.
Chapter 5 – Synthesis
Monitor and continuously align the project work with strategy. Peter Drucker is credited as having said that nothing is more wasteful than doing something efficiently that never should have been done at all. So if the synthesis imperative is operating in alignment, the right work created in the engagement domain has been synthesized into projects and programs that can be defined with clear outputs and outcomes to deliver on the value proposition that was used to justify them. What will also be happening is the removal of projects and programs that will not deliver value even though they looked promising when started. There is little to be gained from throwing good money after bad. The synthesis chapter examines project and program management from this perspective and provides in-depth understanding of how projects and programs can be actively executed in alignment with the portfolio.
Chapter 6 - Transition
Transfer projects crisply to operations to reap the benefits. Projects and programs create new systems, new products, new services. It all adds up to change. If a project or program creates an outstanding solution but fails the transition to operations it can create a significant portfolio dilemma. The dilemma is whether to spend more resources to get the project or program implemented fully or to redeploy resources from that project or program to another strategic investment. Transition is a place where waste can be eliminated by considering the aspects laid out in this book from a prevention point of view. This chapter covers the levers and dials that are available to get projects and programs over the finish line.
The introduction and chapters 1 through 6 provide standalone explanations and examples of ideation, nature, vision, engagement, synthesis and transition. In our conclusion we use two examples. One from Singapore National Library and one from the performance of Lance Armstrong in his quest to win the Tour de France. In both cases we can see the elements of the overall Strategic Execution Framework in action. The elements described in the book are all around us and always have been. What we tend to miss is the relationship between these elements and how they work continuously to generate the results we are getting today. For the most part, the challenge is being able to see the elements in action amid the distraction of merely watching the action itself. In our conclusion, we provide these examples and an interpretation of the examples inside the context of the overall framework. We conclude with some observations about the direction needed to provide additional insight in the continuous quest to provide useful information about Executing Your Strategy.