Strategy vs. Execution: What’s More Important?

Strategy Formulation vs. Strategy Execution is like architecture and construction:  they are equally essential.  And, wholly interdependent.  One cannot fulfill without the other.

Without good blueprints, the house you build will be ugly and sub-functional, maybe dangerous (sounds like too many enterprises we all know, right?).  With good blueprints but bad construction, the house you build may be nice looking, but certainly sub-functional and dangerous. 

Practically speaking, while both Strategy Formulation and Execution have their challenges and difficulties, we’ve seen that Execution demands relatively far more sustained leadership commitment, resource allocation, continuity, metric and time-horizon precision, and mass participation:  drawing the house is easier than actually building it. 

We’ve also seen that the “known deficiencies” in an organization’s Execution capabilities (absent leadership, weak business process, metric vagueness, measurement imprecision, poor enabling technologies) actually bias, disable and dilute the Strategy Formulation process, i.e. “we know that our enterprise isn’t capable of really executing the strategies we actually need to execute, so we’ll just formulate some that we can.” 

In worst-case scenarios, this profound incapability to actually Execute creates a Strategy Formulation process that is corrupted, warped and debased before it even engages.  Yet, these organizations invest millions in attempting to Execute Bad Strategy.

This fundamental deficiency can be fixed with the powerful performance management process automation solutions that exist today:  to enable leaders and the workforce with the timely, precise and relevant performance results information that they need to actively manage Execution.  And, with process- and technology-enabled Execution, credible and legitimate Strategies can be formulated.

This issue of timing in a particular enterprise, or project/initiative, is also fundamental.  There is a “time” to Formulate (or assess and re-Formulate), and there is a “time” to Execute.  Reformulation of Strategy occurs with much greater velocity and relative ease than re-direction of Execution (re-allocation of leadership and resources).   While adaptation is essential, rapid adaptation is optimally effective.

Leadership needs to always remain aware of “where” it is in its enterprise cycle to understand IF Strategy and/or Execution practically CAN be changed/re-allocated at any given point in time.  Responsive and precise performance management enables that awareness.

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