Agile Strategy Execution: Connecting The Dots

A new framework for strategy execution


The strategic planning field has advanced over the past 30 or so years of its formal existence, with books and articles presenting new methods for areas such as innovation, business intelligence, and scenario planning. 

However, I do not feel the field of strategy execution has progressed nearly as fast. I think it is common knowledge that strategy deployment/execution is easy to prescribe for an organization, but excruciatingly hard to make happen. People are not generally rewarded in an organization for successfully executing strategy.

Organizations that struggle to deploy their strategies, objectives and projects seem to follow a similar scenario which looks something like this:

- Before a new fiscal year starts, there is a concerted drive to develop/refine the next year’s strategic plan, and by the year's end, each department puts together their execution objectives, initiatives, and key tactics to make the strategy happen. These plans are shared/presented, often with much fanfare, throughout the organization. Core projects might or might not be included. 

- With the start of the next year, more often than not, these plans lay dormant in PowerPoint presentations on shared drives, for the next quarter, or sometimes, until the next year…when the process starts again.

Organizations with this scenario do not use the information they put in their plans to proactively lead/refine their actions, nor do they have any idea whether or not their actions enabled effective implementation of the strategies put forth in the strategic plan. In other words, good strategies are rewarded…not good execution. What has stumped most strategy professionals and quite a few CEOs, however, is what to do to remedy this situation. 

Solutions range from improving company leadership, to better communications to changing an organization’s culture. We would like to offer a new context of viewing the problem with a solution that has proven successful for many companies. This new context leverages many of the strengths of new evolving ‘agile’ methodologies AND supports the use of a wide variety of current tools & processes, including Lean, 6 Sigma, Balanced Scorecard, Hoshin & OKR’s.

This context includes: three principles and an agile strategy execution framework 

        1. Alignment:Strategies, goals, and tactics that are cascaded, linked and coordinated
        2. Accountable: Data and outcome driven team buy-in & ownership
        3. Responsiveness: Ongoing adaptation to support changing landscapes


I believe strategy execution is too important a discipline to leave as a presentation on an organization's shared drive. What do you think?

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