Monday, February 4, 2013

Strategy or Execution: Which is More Important?

Virgil Carter

Is your organization caught up in the strategy vs. execution debate—you know, is it more important to have a strategy for a successful future or is it more important that you are producing results? In a recent Strategy+Leadership article of the same name, authored by Ken Favaro, with Evan Hirsh and Kasturi Rangan, the authors share their experience that an organization can’t have great execution without a superior strategy!

The authors write, “Any seasoned strategist knows that strategy is not just sloganeering. It is the series of choices you make on where to play and how to win to maximize long-term value. Execution is producing results in the context of those choices. Therefore, you cannot have good execution without having good strategy”.

Further, the authors argue, “Most everyone would agree that you cannot achieve good results without having good execution; similarly, most would agree that having a good strategy alone is no surefire formula for success. But too many jump to the wrong conclusion that this makes execution more important than strategy”.

So the next time you hear statements like these —

• “I’d rather have great execution with a mediocre strategy than the other way around.”
• “You don’t win by having a better strategy; you win through superior execution.”
• “We don’t need a new strategy to fix our performance; we just need to execute the one we have.”

Favaro and his colleagues conclude their article, saying, “Remember this: You need a good strategy to have good execution. Yes, having a good strategy alone isn’t enough to win, but your ability to execute well depends on how good your strategy is and how well it’s understood by everyone who makes major decisions for your business. When your business or company is not executing well, take a look at your strategy. Improving it — and your most important stakeholders’ understanding of it — may hold the key to unlocking better execution”.
For the full article, go to:

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