Mangement For Design

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Strategy, Leadership and Where it All Goes Wrong

In many businesses strategy is often confused with operations, resulting in a lack of alignment between strategy and execution. Furthermore, strategy and leadership are frequently viewed and discussed as very separate concepts that exist in independent, distinct places. Just think about books you may have read on these subjects over the past few years. They are all about either strategy or leadership, but never about both or about the relationship between the two that is a necessity for a business to succeed. In reality, you can’t have one without the other.

In our experience, business strategy gets set and the leaders rely on others to execute most of the time. There are several reasons why this ends up happening, but, for strategy to work and to be accepted throughout a business, it needs to be executed by those at the top. The issue here is that most employees in any business have other things they are working on and unless strategic change is modelled clearly then most people will just continue working on what they were already doing and no real change occurs. It is up the leaders to set an example and drive change.

Execution of a business strategy is the most valuable part of the strategic process. Execution is about how you deliver and create value. The problems with execution eventuate when there are vacuums around strategy communication and priority. Employees will always focus on their own ‘urgent’ task list that may not comprise true priorities for business leaders. In these instances, strategy clearly isn’t filtering down.

Here are a few ways to improve business strategy:

  1. Consider how you will execute before you commence
  2. Have a clear understanding of why you are doing it and the impact it will have
  3. Understand where the pain points and challenges are
  4. Communicate the strategy throughout the business
  5. Make sure priorities are set with timeframes
  6. Your strategy needs to excite
  7. Keep communication open, keep talking about it
  8. Update the strategy as you go — keep it current
  9. Utilise available information and data
  10. Don’t withhold information down the chain.


Remember that business strategy is more than just a plan that sits in your desk drawer. It is an ever-evolving element of your business that needs to be nurtured and nourished.

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