Avoid These 6 Deadly Sins with Your Strategy Execution


Teemu Möykkylä

A huge strategy update coming up in autumn and you need to create vigorous and understandable entirety? Are you constantly thinking about how to pull this round through and to reach the best result? There are many ways, but please try to avoid at least these deadly sins with planning a strategy:

1. Months and months of lingering

Only the best is good enough! However, if reaching the “best” takes several months and wears out your key personnel, think twice. The world is changing at a great pace and even your best excel-guru can’t predict everything that’s going to happen. Instead of using excessive months for analyzing, trust your own experience and intuition. Pull your process through robustly, involve your personnel with light workshops and make bold choices.

2. As if – involvement

If you involve your personnel, then involve! Too often strategy workshops are just a formality in which the result is already settled in the executive board. People sense easily whether they are genuinely creating something new or are they fed with something that is already chewed and settled at a higher level. This kind of manipulation easily creates a counter-reaction, which draws enthusiasm from the execution. So put your own vision aside and genuinely listen to what your personnel has to say.

3. The despot way – from top to details

The executive board is responsible for the company’s direction, and it should be able to define the strategic focal points and key objectives. However, sometimes dangerous ideas rear their ugly head in management. The idea is that the executive board also has the best vision about actions and procedures about how to put those objectives into practice. If you feel that your headquarters is starting to transfer into a know-it-all ivory tower, just blow the whistle. Be humble and ask your personnel how things should be done.

 4. Free as a bird

Modern leadership, autonomous teams, internal motivation – all important things. However, there exists an illusion that your organization can transfer from hierarchical to autonomous overnight. An agile team is effective only if there exists an organizational culture and suitable methods to ensure that the agility is directed in the right direction. Those things do not happen overnight. Start your transition in the strategy process from director to facilitator by ensuring that the objectives and procedures the teams autonomously define are linked to the strategy rationally. You also need to create a light but effective control mechanism to monitor what kind of concepts teams are working with and how it’s linked to the organization’s strategy.

5. Bulls**t-bingo

Fluff or jargon? Make your niece read your strategy before you publish it. If she’s unable to understand it, and if she can’t conclude what your company is trying to do, I suggest you should start all over. After that, you should show it to your spouse and ask if he/she understands, in what way your customers are benefiting from your strategy. If there is still no realization, I suggest you start all over again. Simple as that.

6. Falling in love with numbers while simultaneously forgetting the action behind them

15-15-15. It’s trendy and hip to crunch your strategy down to only a few key figures: 15% of organic growth, 15% EBIT, $15 million of new business activity through acquisitions. Around those numbers, your CFO builds with love and enthusiasm a Balanced Scorecard in which the objectives are quantified through different business units. If your CFO looks extremely self-satisfied after that drill, it’s time to ruin his precious afternoon coffee break and ask what concrete actions lead to those numbers? Repeat your question many times until those plans are delivered into action and transparency has been established. 

If you are interested in hearing more about these thoughts, please feel free to contact the LATO team anytime!

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