Decide when to act

strategy process description

I have just been to Jordan on a holiday which lasted a week. I took my family with me and we had a good time. In the plane, I read an interesting article that referred to a book by Andy Stanley named “The Principle of the Path.” Stanley states that our good intentions are not enough to take us where we want to go. If you want to go north, head north! The problem with many of us is that we want to go north, but our steps and actions take us south.

This is exactly what Stanley says in the book:

“Direction, not intention determines your destination.”

I couldn’t agree more. It is your actions that take you to your destiny. This is also true even for companies. Planning is important, but execution is probably even more important. What makes companies, or rather people in companies so poor in the execution of their strategy? Research undertaken by Harvard Business School revealed that 9 out of 10 companies have problems with strategy execution. I think most companies lack a “formal process for the execution of strategy.” As I am sitting on the airplane journeying from Jordan back to Norway and writing this, I am thinking about the scenario = Evacuation of the airplane – Should anything happen. We all know the story “…under your seat there is a lifejacket, inflate outside, a lamp is turned on if it comes in contact with water and so on.”

This is a process that is well written and well communicated. In companies, we have other processes which are well described. For example, how to receive new recruits with communicative emails, registering an employee in the company entrance system, filling out employment forms, etc. We realize this is also a process.

Now you go and ask your management “Where is our process description for executing strategy.” Try to ask – well, we have a strategy plan, we have some meetings, we make decisions in the monthly management meeting, etc. but is this the strategy execution process? Is it well described? Is it still alive and followed? If not, it is high time to do a BPR (business process re-engineering) of your strategic planning and execution process.