As the world looks to the Summer Olympics in Rio, it’s a good time to ask what makes a winning strategy. Every athlete wants to win, and every business wants a winning strategic plan. That’s because a well-planned strategy acts as a scorecard for measuring success. Yet for many organizations – just like athletes – even the best laid plans don’t result in success. So why do some strategies fail while others are pure gold? The answer lies in the execution.

Strategy Starts at the Top

A clear goal comes from a leader. Someone with the vision and foresight to see what the future holds and how to get there. Athletes find this fire to succeed from within, and businesses can learn from their example by engaging the right leadership within. Surprisingly, 90 percent of organizations fail to execute their strategy successfully because no compelling vision or direction exists at the senior level. Employees are left to execute plans in the dark, and this simply does not work. All the strategic planning models in the world are useless if left to sit in a file cabinet somewhere. Execution is dependent upon direction, and top-down strategic governance is essential to ensuring execution and success. Strategic leadership must start at the top.

Strategy is a Team Effort

Olympians represent the top of the talent pool, and behind every successful athlete is a supportive team of professionals. Corporations cannot attain success within their perspective markets without a supportive, informed team, and yet 86 percent of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, and one U.S. study found 70 percent of employees aren’t working up to their full potential. Lack of communication is at the heart of this disconnect between employee direction and strategy. Corporations’ ability to effectively implement a plan of action depends on a team’s ability to see and understand their overall role in the strategy. Companies who fail to communicate individuals’ roles, and draw upon the ideas and talents of their people, lose out on the most valuable asset their company has to drive strategy – teamwork.

Strategy Requires the Right Tools

Winning at the highest level requires the right tools. Athletes need the right skills and equipment to succeed and so do businesses. Strategic success starts with a strategic planning platform that keeps the whole enterprise on track. Vision statements, departmental tasks, and subjective and structured data should all be seamlessly linked to provide a complete view of what is happening in real time so everyone can execute on all aspects of the plan. Spreadsheets and pages of written data might be informative, but are far from engaging. An effective strategy must be visually appealing as well as informative to optimize success and allow execution. Strategy isn’t always easy, but with the right tools, it is possible to execute to win.

If you would like more information on how to execute your strategy, contact us at StrategyBlocks today.

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