Changing the Way the World Thinks about Strategy
Strategy Execution Problem

Strategy Execution Problem

As you know from the Simplified Strategic Planning book and seminar, execution is the Achilles’ heel of strategic planning.  Although the Simplified Strategic Planning approach is the best approach to strategy execution we’ve seen, your execution may fall behind.  So – what is the best way to handle getting behind in your strategy execution?

First, it’s important to remember that we put a schedule on the action plan tasks to give them priority

Without that schedule, your action plan steps become just another postpone-able activity.  Since your team is already quite busy, allowing postponement will lead to slower and slower execution.  Some steps won’t cause mayhem, however, if they are completed a little late.

We want to treat the execution schedule as important, though, and that means we must resolve the issue

Remember, there are five main reasons for strategy execution problems:

  1. Overestimating the resources available
  2. Underestimating the resources required
  3. Allocating the wrong resources
  4. The action relies on some external actor, like a customer, who may not share our priorities.
  5. Intrusion of an urgent matter

Paying close attention to the scheduling process will help with issues 1 and 2 – but that won’t eliminate the issues

Over time, you will get better at making these estimates, but when you do encounter resource issues, consider these steps:

  1. Acknowledge that there was a mismatch between your estimates and reality.
  2. Learn from that mismatch.
  3. Examine how you can either add resources available or decrease resources required for the step.
  4. Re-schedule the action plan based upon your adjustments.

The third issue – allocating the wrong resources – is harder to acknowledge or fix

When we are talking about time, people and money, the wrong resource is usually the wrong person.  A tech task given to a less-tech savvy team member may get off track.  That’s because he or she has to learn the technology as the project progresses.  In some cases, the mismatch may be even worse.  You may be doing the equivalent of asking a fish to ride a bicycle.  A tenacious team member can become like a fish who insists that, he can ride that bicycle  That isn’t fair to the team member or your company.  While tenacity can be a valuable trait in an executive, self-awareness is also important here.

The fourth issue you will likely see is the problem of external actors

Your suppliers and customers, in particular, did not participate in your action planning and scheduling process.  They may have very different ideas about the timely completion of the tasks on your action plan.  Often it’s useful to sit down with the key players and discuss the desired schedule and the issues that affect timing.

The final issue is sometimes a big problem

Sometimes the urgent intrusion can be delegated.  If not, you must either delegate some or all of the action plan step or live with its postponement.  Sometimes completion of the action plan is inevitably delayed.

Are you having any strategy execution problems?  If you’d like to discuss how we can help your strategic execution stay on track, consider holding a one-day workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning.

In-house Workshop

For more on execution, click here.

Robert Bradford is President & CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at

M. Dana Baldwin is Senior Strategist with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at:

Co-Author, M. Dana Baldwin

Robert Bradford

Co-Author, Robert Bradford

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