Executives and leaders know the importance of consistent execution, so why do they frequently not stick with the plan and company strategy they originally created? What happens to change their thinking? Were they not as committed to the direction as they professed to be? When executives ignore consistent execution what does it say to the team and does it matter to the success of the organization?
Almost daily, executives and entrepreneurs are faced with changes that affect their business and the decisions they make. The ups and downs of the economy, changes in the marketplace, competition from other companies and online purchases, staff turnover, and more have leaders constantly sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to see what is going to happen next, and how they should respond. Companies that are part of a holding company, or subsidiaries of another company, are often at the whims of their parent company. It’s no wonder that staying the course is difficult.
The truth is that these are explanations for why they aren’t sticking with the company strategy. Yes, of course, they impact the strategy, but in my experience these situations provide justifications for changing direction or simply abandoning the original plan and doing nothing. Why would any executive go to the trouble to create a strategy and not stick to it? Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Executives all know the importance of consistent execution, which starts with defining a company strategy. It’s not that they don’t recognize the importance, it’s just so darn easy to change direction or lose sight of the reason the strategy was developed in the first place. Why is this? There are lots of reasons:
- Results don’t come as quickly as desired and leadership gets frustrated. They start thinking the plan wasn’t that good or their thinking was off when they created the strategy.
- Staff and teams don’t buy into the strategy and it becomes a constant struggle to stay on course and keep everyone focused. There is often push/pull from the team and the constant grind of reminding them of the vision and the ‘why we are doing this’ is wearisome.
- Someone at the top of the organization has a new idea or wants to change how things are done, or suddenly decides that going right rather than left is the correct direction. Managing up is a constant challenge for everyone and when the top executive decides to alter the strategy it may be difficult, if not impossible, to have them change their mind.
- The strategy wasn’t well formed initially. Perhaps there were no clearly defined metrics for performance or time frames and it’s easy to simply shift or abandon the strategy.
- No plan was created for execution. Strategy is one thing, execution is where the rubber meets the road. If there was no plan, or an ill-formed plan, to execute the strategy, you won’t see results; you won’t even know what the results should be and tossing away the plan is a reasonable reaction.
There are any number of reasons why leaders simply abandon their plans. Frankly, its requiring to stay on course and remain consistent with the execution. When leaders get busy, and all leaders are, taking the time to stop and evaluate if there is still consistent execution of a plan doesn’t even make it onto the radar. The more time that passes where no one is stopping to assess the strategy, the greater the likelihood that things go awry.
All this being said, there is a real advantage to sticking with the company strategy and having consistent execution.
- There was a reason the plan was created in the first place, typically because an organization wants results in specific areas of the company. If the plan is well-defined and the ‘how are we going to execute’ is outlined, an organization can measure progress along the way. IT helps provide the insights into what’s working or what might not be working allowing management to make informed business decisions.
- Regardless of what they tell you, employees actually like some structure and most like to know where the company is going and where they fit into those plans. If the expectations are identified and communicated to staff they can perform to those expectations. Without knowing what they are, you leave it to them to determine what they think, rather than what you want.
- There is something comforting for everyone when there is a plan and consistent execution. Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than constant change. And if the change in direction of the company happens too frequently staff begins to worry about job security and begins to question whether management knows what they are doing. That’s never good!
- Consistency in execution is like scaffolding on a building. It provides the framework for how things are done and the support to get things done. At the same time it offers a company the opportunity to make adjustments as needed without having to tear down the building and start all over.
Executives and leaders know the importance of consistency in the execution of a plan, it just that sometimes they forget. Like any other commitment we make in life where we fall off the wagon, as leaders we may get sidetracked and not follow through with consistent execution. It doesn’t mean that you can’t get back on the path, it simply means you took a detour. The important point to remember is the detour does not mean you aren’t able to reset the course, and when you do you must communicate to those around you. Ignoring the sidestep and hoping no one notices, or picking back up where you moved off course without communicating this to others is foolish. Get back in the saddle as soon as you realize you have fallen off the horse, and communicate to everyone around you what you are now doing and why.
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