Strategy without Execution … FAILS

by Mike O'Neill

Which describes you best, Visionary or Operator? Why not both? Visionaries embrace strategy and think about amazing things to do. Operators get things done.

Leaders who master both strategy and execution start by building a bold but executable strategy. Next, they ensure that the company is investing behind the change. And last, they make sure that the entire organization is motivated to go the journey.

According to Paul Leinwand, articulating the strategy in human terms – what capabilities the company will need to build,  and what skills are required to do so – not only helps the company focus on how to develop the right talent, but it allows individuals to understand how their role fits into the overall strategy and allows them to see their work in a much more fundamentally connected way.

If you want to take a big step forward in closing the gap between strategy and execution hopefully you will find Paul’s recommendations helpful:


  • Are you very clear about how you add value to customers in a way that others don’t, and about the specific capabilities that enable you to excel at that value proposition?
  • As strategies are being developed, are you using the classic approach of “build the strategy, then think about execution,” or are you asking yourself the question, “Do you have the capabilities needed—or can you build the capabilities needed—to execute the strategy?”


  • Are you diligently following through on what you have decided? You need to be very clear about what the strategy is and what it takes to succeed—and to communicate it so that everyone in the organization understands what they should be doing.
  • Are you building specific connections between strategy and the budgeting process, so you are reallocating funds to where they matter most? And do you have mechanisms in place that translate the strategy into personal goals and rewards for managers and employees?


  • Are you motivating employees every single day to understand how what they’re doing connects to the important strategic levers that you have focused on?
  • Are you enabling employees to work together across organizational silos to tackle the cross-functional challenges that allow the company to win?
  • Is your management team engaged in how you are executing the strategy—not just by measuring results, but by constantly challenging the organization and supporting it in improving its key capabilities? Are you setting your team’s sights high enough for what they need to accomplish, and by when?

SOURCE: Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap – Paul Leinwand


The best CEO’s I know are teachers, and at the core of what they teach is strategy. 

Michael Porter

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