Dos & Don’ts: Execution

People are excited about the bold ambition you’ve declared for your company. But is the organization ready and capable of executing your strategic choices?

The instant you raise the bar, the organization you have now will be less than what you need to successfully execute your strategic priorities. Successful execution demands that you do the hard work of identifying where the enterprise falls short. Create a detailed picture of the kind of organization your company will need to become if it is to realize the ambitious future you have chosen. Fold the image you have of your company in the future in onto your present organization. There will undoubtedly be gaps between the present and the future. Those gaps reveal where you have to introduce change.

KNOW • Above all, your work as CEO here comes down to mitigating the value at risk in execution. Mitigation may mean you have to de-layer to improve organizational fitness or redesign things to bring the whole company to bear on its greatest opportunities. You may have to acquire specific talent for pivotal jobs in your workforce or reorganize decision rights. You may have to reengineer your processes or modernize your tools and systems. And if the corporate culture doesn’t give your new strategic choices a push, mitigation may also mean you have to recalibrate that as well.

DO  Conduct a reality check to determine if your organization capable of executing your strategic choices.

Handicap the probability of realizing each strategic choice and quantify how much value is put at risk. Introduce enough change in the organization to close any capability gaps. Avoid the two most common mistakes CEOs make here: forgetting to account for time and power in the midst of all this change. No one builds or buys capabilities overnight. If you won’t have enough time to develop what you need in-house, look at what you will need to acquire and how long it will take to integrate. Take this a step at a time and keep a keen eye on the value at risk as you go.

KNOW • The way work gets done now in your company reflects yesterday’s strategic priorities. The underlying structures —the role relationships and decision rights of your operating framework—will need to be adjusted to reflect your new priorities. These organizational adjustments are all about power: don’t underestimate their impact. Be clear about the changes you are making and explicit about them with everyone involved.

DON’T  Fail to mitigate the value at risk in execution.

This is not about developing a step-by-step plan for execution. This is about leveraging your company’s existing capabilities in new ways and defining a corporate culture that supports your strategic choices down to the most granular level of execution. Be mindful of the time, energy and resources it will take to fill critical capability gaps. Most capabilities require technology, so adjust your IT roadmap accordingly.

When it comes to people, many will resist change until they understand what’s in it for them. Even then, in the absence of leadership, they will often default to what they know brought them success in the past. Fine-tune the corporate standards of behavior, performance metrics and incentives to support the company’s new strategy. Get your leaders clearly communicating these new standards—and play by these new rules yourselves.

Want to learn more about what and how successful CEOs communicate during Mobilization? Check out /move: The CEO's Playbook for Capturing Value.

Topics: Connecting Talent to Value, Execution, Mobilization, Risk Mitigation, T2V, Talent to Value


Sandy Ogg

CEO.works’ founder, Sandy Ogg has spend 30+ years working and learning with CEOs around the world. His experience and the insights he’s gained through this work have informed the CEO.works methodology.