For success in battling external threats, execution of strategy that’s objectively measured and fine-tuned is critical. Execution, in fact, is more important than the strategy itself.

Multiple solutions might work to triumph over a threat, but a global study in 20 sectors in 20 countries shows execution trumps strategy.

The study is entitled, “Executing Corporate Strategy: A Global Study.” It was conducted by the American Management Association (AMA) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp).

“Drawing attention to competitive threats catalyzes employees,” says AMA’s Chief Marketing Officer Jeremey Donovan.

“Of course, this must be done with care in order to balance negative effects such as job security concerns,” he adds.

It’s accomplished with innovation and risk-taking.

But senior management is successful in linking strategy with external and internal realities by effectively communicating with talent in operations using technology.

A salient challenge is to avoid a culture of fear.

“Consider a hot new product launch by a close competitor. In order to respond effectively, employees need to have a clear enough mind to innovate,” explains Mr. Donovan.

He says there’s more footwork.

To execute strategy for market performance, the study recommends four strategies:

— Visible support from leadership

— Regular communication of progress to employees

— Recognizing execution as a top corporate priority

— Focusing on a common threat without creating a culture of fear

Execution is so important that some companies fail to capitalize on strategy that would ordinarily work

“Excellent strategies fail all the time because leadership fails to engage with employees, observe behaviors and find out why people act the way they do,” says i4cp Senior Research Analyst Cliff Stevenson.

He makes good sense. I’d also add savvy employers know how to profit from their human capital. Such knowledge is a powerful weapon for high performance in a competitive marketplace.

To meet threats head-on, there’s a correlation among excellent sales, happy customers, and high employee morale. Proverbially speaking, employees are where the tire meets the road. So, it’s key to motivate employees to offer profitable ideas.

“Drawing attention to competitive threats catalyzes employees.”

“Leaders need to do more than communicate expectations; they need to find out what’s driving behavior and why,” adds Mr. Stevenson.

My sense is effective bosses have antennas to alert them over looming challenges. If they don’t have such an antenna, it’s important for them to develop one for multiple credibility reasons.

Even the bosses of small companies can suffer from image problems externally and internally. Either one or both will adversely affect profits. During adversity, you need a plan to motivate employees.

To focus on a common threat and to execute strategy, the study reveals what’s needed are three leadership behaviors:

  1. Regularly discuss relevant industry and competitor developments with the team.
  2. Ensure the organization has broad strategies and plans that address changing market conditions and client needs, and create competitive advantage.
  3. Market the strategy internally to employees, showing the customer value proposition, to gain buy-in and an understanding of the relevancy of external threats.

The bottom-line:

“Execution trumps strategy, and this is true regardless of industry, organization size or structure,” concludes Mr. Stevenson.

Agreed; employee participation is crucial. It takes a team approach to succeed with your strategic plan.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are tips from related articles:

Strategy Not Working? You Need a Strategy to Execute Your Strategy — If a company develops a good strategy but it fails, we can draw a conclusion. Management dropped the ball. Well-worded strategies are nice. But they’re just a bunch of sentences until success is achieved.

A Marketing Strategy That Best Defends Your Company — What do I mean by the phrase, “A marketing strategy that best defends your company”? Protecting your assets with the right marketing strategy results in the shielding and enhancing of your brand, as well as protecting your customer base.

10 Red Flags Your Business Needs Strategic Planning — Many entrepreneurs are so busy putting out fires, they fail to take care of business in two ways. They fail to plan strategically and they don’t make marketing a priority each day.

11 Management Strategies for a Successful Turnaround — When it comes to management strategies for a successful turnaround, a quote by financial-world wizard Warren Buffett is apropos. “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing,” Mr. Buffett said. My response: “Touché.” It’s all about capital mobility created by effective management.

9 Precautions in Training Employees to Protect You from Cyber Crime — It takes a team approach to protect your organization against the skyrocketing rate of cyber crime. Here are nine training precautions necessary to make sure your employees help you guard against security threats.

“Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.”

-W. C. Fields


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.