Barriers to effective strategy execution point 2

Continuation of point 1

#2 Misalignment of structure to strategy

Are you trying to fit a tight small size dress into a body of a fat baby? That is what happens when you try to fit your strategy into your existing structure.

There are several reasons why business leaders fail to execute strategy. One of the biggest reasons I have found based on the so many interactions with CEO’s and other executives is the failure to align the structure to strategy. Most of the time, leaders make a document and call it ‘strategic plan.’ Anybody can do that because planning is the easiest part. The biggest challenge is execution.

For each strategy, there is a tendency to have key areas of focus. A strategic document could have key focus areas 1, 2, 3 and 4. However, these focus areas are not properly anchored to support effective realization.

Take an example of a house.

If is built in such a way that three pillars are on one side, with only one pillar supporting the house on the other side, chances of it falling over are high. The center of gravity on the house is in the middle and it is likely that the house will roll. If you don’t align the pillars in a way that they support the roof, chances of falling are high

The same thing happens when it comes to strategy execution. You need to align the pillars in a way that they support effective strategy execution. In a business, the pillars are the values, scorecard, area where you will play, key focus areas to deliver to the stakeholder expectations. You need to align the structure to the strategy to anchor it effectively.

As a leader, how do you make sure each of the key area of focus is effectively aligned to a responsible person? How do you link your pillars (key areas of focus) to performance areas with appropriate indicators to show whether you are moving ahead or stagnating? Failure to have your pillars aligned to supporting the strategy becomes the biggest challenge.

We are seen with surprise some leaders who undergo an elaborate process to formulate strategy, and after doing very great work come back again to force the strategy to fit into the existing structure.

It is like fitting a small dress into the body of a fat baby. The dress will not enter. And it if does, it bursts.

This is the same thing that happens to government. Great strategies and ‘visions’. When it comes to realization, no results can be seen on ground. Government structure was set up long time ago. But new changes in the environment; geo-political, technology, population growth, the rise of globalization, etc mean that ways of working have also changed.

Government came up with Vision 2040, and the subsequent National Development Plans. However, these very good articulated documents are to be implemented in a structure that existed in the 1990’s. It can’t work like that. Anytime government comes up with a National Development Plan, it must review the existing structure so that it is aligned to fit and implement that national strategy and vision. Not the other way round.

Fig1: Strategy Vs structure alignment

Read more for point three……

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