But when good strategies fail it's often harder to pinpoint the reasons.
Execution can go wrong for a variety of reasons.
- One of the most basic is allowing the focus of the strategy to shift over time. The challenge of execution is mostly a matter of alignment -- getting the right product or service to the right customer at the right time. (or simply - doing the right things right.)
- At other times, strategies fail simply because they don't get communicated to all the people involved.
- Strategies also flop because individuals resist the change.
- Cultural factors can also hinder execution.
Yet the biggest factor of all may be executive inattention. Once a plan is decided upon, there is often surprisingly little follow-through to ensure that it is executed.
Frequent communication is essential if plans are to be executed well -- very effective companies have regular dialogues between the leadership team and unit managers.
Two schools of thought about the best way to improve execution.
- One school emphasizes people: Just put the right people in place and the right things will get done.
- A second school emphasizes process rather than people.
Research suggests that companies that have delivered the best results to shareholders combine both approaches.