Here’s my definition of strategy:
Strategy is just the decisions you make that make execution work better.
If execution doesn’t improve eventually, it was the wrong strategy.
I believe these things about strategy and execution:
1) Execution is what you do. It’s where we live 95% of the time in our businesses. This is reality.
Whiteboards and strategy exercises don’t get results, the right activities and execution does. Good strategy improves execution.
Execution provides results, strategy provides leverage.
2) Most small business owners and entrepreneurs are great at execution and not so good at strategy.
This makes sense, since they are surviving in the real world by busily getting things done every day.
They just don’t do strategy very often and usually aren’t used to the mechanics and discipline required to do it effectively.
3) Strategy requires perspective, which is why it’s useful to get outside input or an outside advisor to help.
We are all stuck in our view of the world and our habits. Even strategy consultants. It’s a human thing.
4) Sometimes more and better execution of the same strategy is all that is needed for a while. Email better, fix your software, add salespeople, revise your messaging, change people, work harder, get more efficient.
Incremental improvement is a big part of the sport of startups.
5) But when “adding more and working harder” doesn’t work anymore, something deeper is going on. Your stuck and doing more won’t get you to the next level.
Your strategy needs work. Or your strategy needs to be adapted to the new size of your company.
6) The bigger you get, the more strategy matters. It’s a force multiplier. It will multiply effectiveness or ineffectiveness.
A weak sales strategy can be overcome with effort when you have 2 salespeople, but not when you have 20 or 200 salespeople. Extra effort doesn’t solve the problem.
7) I agree with the definition “strategy is what you say NO to.” If you are saying yes to everything, you don’t have a strategy.
The word “decide” comes from the Latin word “to cut.”
8) For entrepreneurs and leaders, execution is their day job. But they have another night job called strategy that they are 100% responsible for too.
Founders and CEOs are ultimately responsible for strategy. You can’t delegate this completely to someone else on your team.
9) Execution helps you succeed this year; strategy helps you succeed next year.
A link to my popular blog post with a list of strategy exercises can be found here.
Happy 2022 planning!