Closing the Execution Gap
Closing the gap between strategy and execution is still as much a challenge as it was when Robert S. Kaplan and Andrew Pateman discussed it at length in their classic 2006 Harvard Business School article, "The Office of Strategy Management."
In other words, the world is filled with great visions and million-dollar ideas. However, the majority of these go unrealized by leadership teams and business owners who can’t gain the traction they need to fully realize their ideas.
Why? I believe it comes down to a lack of discipline and accountability.
Bringing true discipline and accountability into an organization can feel a little uncomfortable. It tends to shine a spotlight on what’s not working and what’s not getting done. When you extend that spotlight to the people who are tied to these activities, it means facing your people problems head-on, which may involve some tough decisions.
This discomfort—or even simply the fear of this discomfort—is what holds organizations back from recognizing their true issues. It also, ultimately, keeps them from accomplishing their goals. In order to close the gap between strategy and execution, however, it’s important to recognize that this short-term discomfort is an important part of growth.
Once your organization commits to accountability and discipline—as well as the communication that reinforces these two principles—the initial discomfort eventually subsides. Execution moves to the forefront. Meeting your goals becomes a reality and you’re on your way to gaining traction in your business.
Executive Insight: How do you reinforce accountability in your organization? Is your team clear on who owns what tasks? What mechanisms do you use to report progress? Holding weekly meetings during which your staff reports on their responsibilities can be a valuable way to stay on top of your execution.
As a business leader, it’s your responsibility to take it a step further. When things aren’t going as planned, follow up with each team member to reinforce individual accountability. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but this kind of leadership will increase ownership in your team and help your business get more done.