Execution, vital to win in Covid-19 battered market | Sunday Observer

Execution, vital to win in Covid-19 battered market

20 September, 2020

It’s a tough environment today, demanding flawless execution to stay profitable. In a highly volatile market, more frequent strategy shaping is needed and a medium term strategy may be too short. Dramatic changes are taking place each day in terms of product offering, channels used, tactical pricing and promotions making strategy alignment a very difficult task. 

Even the most brilliant strategy is worth nothing if it isn’t executed well, especially by your front line — the employees who interact daily with your customers. Unfortunately, these employees are regularly asked to execute strategies that others developed and that they may not understand, never mind feel committed or connected to. 

Developing good strategy involves a lot of hard work, but it’s not where things tend to go wrong. In business, even the most robustly designed and painstakingly planned strategies can fail. Even worse, it is often the blindingly obvious that can trip you up. This is relevant for any business, of any size, in any sector.

To make the strategy work, firstly, all employees must believe in the strategy as strongly as the CEO does, and behave in line with it. And finally, they must be willing to explain the strategy and its implications to any doubters within the company.


Putting up with a sub-par or mediocre team will make your strategy unachievable or sub-optimised at best. Companies should prioritise going after the best people and then motivating them to do extraordinary things. Focusing on management is usually the best place to start in any strategy.

Getting people to buy into your strategy makes it easier to implement and to implement well.  Communication is therefore critical, and keeping it simple but convincing pays dividends.

Increasingly, enterprises need an enduring purpose to inspire and motivate their people. The whole team needs to know that what they are doing matters to the company. 

The heart and soul of execution is accountability – it is this which motivates people to follow through on their commitments. It is essential with any plan that it is clear who is responsible for what, and that accountability is tied to results, not activities.

This is essential because, while activity within an organisation is unceasing, it is only results that really matter.

Top team

Create bold plans, hire the best people to implement them, pursue a focused strategy in a consistent, single-minded way and move and adapt rapidly. Crucially, a leader’s ability to do this is directly linked to the quality and single-mindedness of the top team - if they consistently believe in and implement the strategy, there is a very good chance these pitfalls will be avoided.

To successfully implement strategy there is also a need to expunge confirmed doubters, as their cynical attitude towards the strategy can spread and become toxic, making implementation more difficult and expensive. The doubter can also be a bad role model for his or her juniors, radiating scepticism throughout the company.  They may be good and effective employees, but if they’re getting in the way of strategy execution it is critical they be moved to less integral roles. Or, in more extreme cases, a CEO may find it necessary to manage a few high-profile dismissals.