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The Secrets of Strategic Execution: Lessons for Human Resources Management Published: Sunday, April 15, 2007 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

The execution of a business strategy is about translating plans into results.  It is the responsibility of business executives to assure execution, and that is not always an easy task.  That is why they are well paid and receive special incentives or allowances.  The higher the executive is within the corporate structure or hierarchy, the greater the risk for not executing at the competitive level that is required.  But just because the company has committed executives does not guarantee that they will be successful in carrying out the business strategy.  Leaders have to be aware and prevent potential pitfalls.

Sometimes the strategy is not communicated in such a way that employees understand it, and there is always the possibility that the message has not reached all the corners of the organization.  It can happen that progress to forward the strategy is not made measurable, making very difficult to manage what you don’t measure.

Translating a strategy into executable action requires of skills and competencies.  Some organizations get wrapped up in measuring the wrong things.

Another important consideration is that some people, very specific people have to be held accountable for a strategic priority.  This signifies that leaders have to be clear of what exactly they are responsible for doing and for assuring that the strategies flow across all levels of the organization.  Again, sometimes people are held accountable for getting something done, but they lacked the skills to do what is expected from them.  Thus, providing the proper education and training is a must to ensure that objectives can be reached.

IT IS ALSO CRITICAL TO ENSURE THE RIGHT FIT, MEANING THAT THE RIGHT PEOPLE ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE TO PRODUCE QUICK, VISIBLE AND DRAMATIC RESULTS.  IN THIS DIRECTION, IT IS AN IMPERATIVE TO IDENTIFY, YOUR MISSION-CRITICAL POSITIONS, AND THE PEOPLE THAT ARE READY FOR WHAT THEY NEED TO BE DOING. The radical strategy will require a new way of getting things done.  New processes and systems are needed.

So, what is the secret of competitive execution?  The theory of organizational design states that SUCCESS IS DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE DEGREE OF ORGANIZATIONAL ALIGMENT AN ORGANIZATION CAN GENERATE.  If it is possible to achieve a huge commitment by the people to a given objective, that objective is a good as achieved.  The more people, the more geographically or functionally dispersed the workforce, and the more unaccustomed they are to rapid change, the harder it is to attain that alignment.  A well designed and implemented management system is fundamental for helping translate the business strategy into well-articulated, congruent priorities and objectives for the entire organization and for moving forward with a single purpose.

The leadership management system has to focus on three inter-related dimensions:

The organizational direction is where the organization is headed and why.  The whats are the key business strategies and priorities that must be achieved.  The hows point toward the cultural strategies that align with the whats to support and create the execution conditions to achieve the strategic priorities.

The behaviors of strategic execution are: 1) Clarify business strategies; 2) Establish measurement methods; 3) Align accountabilities; 4) Validate key competencies; 5) Match and maximize people; 6) Align key systems with the deployed strategy.  


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