Skip to main content

Strategy Without Execution 
Is Hallucination!

| March 4, 2014

by Jim Bruce

The Tuesday Reading today, “Strategy Without Execution Is Hallucination!”  has a title that comes from a presentation to a McGill MBA class by Mike Roach, the CEO of CGI, a 31,000 person IT firm.  The essay first appeared in Karl Moore’s Forbes column on Leadership.  The author is Rebecca Black, a McGill graduate and now a business development specialist at Shaw Communications in Calgary.

The essay’s thesis is that we spend a disproportionate amount of time focusing on formulating strategy as compared to executing that strategy.  A recent book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling suggests four specific disciplines an organization can follow to improve their success at execution:

Discipline 1:  Focus on the Wildly Important – The more you put on your plate, the less you actually accomplish!  Rather than focus on a lot of efforts, identify the one thing that is most important to the strategy’s success and focus first on that.

Discipline 2:  Act on the Lead Measures – As you work on your WIG (wildly important goal) you have to measure.  Some measurements will be lagging indicators – they track your progress in reaching your WIG.  Others will be leading indicators – they are measures of the most high-impact things your team must do to reach the goal.  Be sure that you are making progress here.

Discipline 3:  Keep a Compelling Scoreboard – To get the team really engaged, you have to get them to keep score.  You obtain the highest level of engagement when you know the score.  Competition matters.

Discipline 4:  Create a Cadence of Accountability – “Unless we consistently hold each other accountable, the goal naturally disintegrates in the whirlwind.”  The team needs to understand that the goal matters and so does their involvement in its completion.  Your responsibility as a leader is to help them hold themselves individually and collectively accountable.

These are simple disciplines.  The authors assert, and I believe, that following them will lead to real results.

So, as you work on execution against a strategy, do give these disciplines a try.  And, let me know how they work for you.

.  .  .  .    jim

EXTRA – You may also find ”An Emotional Approach to Strategy Execution“ to be of interest.  A related six-minute video interview with Professor Quy Huy who directs INSSEAD’s Strategy Program talking about the emotional approach to strategy execution can be found here.