Strategies are less plans of what to do than an atlas of where not to go. Great strategists narrow their focus so they can execute fewer things better. To give context about why they chose to pursue certain paths and not others and to align everyone, they offer:
• The strategy’s mission
• The why of execution
• The vision of the strategy
• How the strategy will be executed
How should A/E firms execute a great strategy? It’s difficult to know whether you’ve executed well unless you establish specific, measurable goals. Instilling objectives with clarity also helps commit people to act. When they can see the finish line, it’s tangible. Holding yourself accountable is also easier when goals are specific and
If a strategy produces poor results, how can you tell if it was the execution or the strategy that was weak? When you can measure performance, it’s easier to tell if it was the execution. If a key hire doesn’t pan out, for instance, you’ll know your strategy was fine if their performance wasn’t. Or you can quantify your interview process. But when errors in execution are harder to analyze, such as failing to enter a new market, A/E firms need to consult their specific,measurable goals.
Should strategy come from the top and execution the bottom? A healthy organization makes bottom-up and top-down decisions. Top-down strategies bring order to uncertainty. Still, one or two people can’t always make great decisions for everybody. To execute any strategy, leaders must empower workers to adjust the strategy when appropriate, while ensuring everyone stays the course.
If an A/E firm had to change one thing about it’s execution, what should it be? A/E firms should shift their idea of successful execution away from revenue and perfection. Often, the tendency is to ask: “How billable am I?” when the strategic emphasis might also seek to understand and improve client satisfaction. A mediocre strategy well-executed is not necessarily better than a great strategy poorly executed.
This article is an excerpt from PSMJ’s latest A/E/C Executive Briefing: Perfect 2020 Vision: How to Make Sure Your Strategic Plan Delivers Results. In this complementary download, you’ll also find up-to-date market trends, a quiz on if your firm need a strategic plan now, tips for a successful strategic planning retreat, an exclusive sneak-peek into a chapter of Frank Stasiowski’s IMPACT 2030 that outlines major changes coming to the A/E/C industry over the next decade, and more.