Having a business plan isn’t enough

Success in business requires execution.

We’ve talked a lot about business strategy – from business plans to strategic plans – and how they can help grow your business. But the fact is, simply having a plan isn’t enough. Working with business owners, I’ve seen and a heard a lot of good ideas that never went anywhere because of poor execution. Conversely, I’ve seen some not-so-great ideas that performed very well because of great execution. So, let’s talk about some ways you can better execute your ideas within your business.

To begin the discussion, I recommend you check out this great article in the Harvard Business Review (HRB) on trying to effectively meld business strategy and execution. It provides a good narrative that, while having the strategy and the vision is inspiring, success requires the ability to focus on everyday execution. There are many valuable takeaways in this article, including insights about business strategy. What I found most interesting was a list of key questions to ask yourself about how well you’re executing.

How Well Are You Executing (from HRB)

  • 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?
  • Are you keeping track not just of your performance, but of how you’re building and scaling up those few key capabilities that enable you to create value for customers in ways that others cannot?
  • 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?

A Few Additional Questions on Business Execution (from me)

And as I thought about these questions, it prompted some additional questions about execution that I know have been relevant to many of the business owners I work with every day:

  • Are you providing your employees with the resources they need to succeed in their roles?
  • Do you have the processes and procedures in place that help facilitate your strategy?
  • If your business is exceeding/not meeting projections, is the issue strategy, execution, or both?

So keep up the great work on your business strategy. But as the new year approaches, start thinking about how you execute your strategies. Both internally and externally. What elements of your execution can you improve on? What new types of execution can you try?

And as always, if you’d like to talk about strategic execution, or any other business issues, stop by and have a cup of coffee with me.