Executing a Strategy

The headline reads "Ford Posts Worst Loss in Its History," due to slumping sales and large restructuring costs. Alan Mulally, the new CEO, has a plan to slash white collar jobs by 14,000, redesign and introduce new products, and continue to re-structure the business.

We have heard these words before in many companies. Ford and other companies often create great strategies on paper, but somewhere between the paper and the factory floor, something gets lost. People on the floor know that jobs are cut, talent is lost, sales are down, and they have to work harder and smarter.

Larry Bossidy, coauthor of Execution, believes that focus on execution is a leader's most important job. Getting a strategy executed requires more than a detailed plan, it requires getting everyone in the organization from the front lines to the C-Level engaged, passionate, and excited about the plan. Great execution happens in small manageable chunks by taking large plans and breaking them into manageable parts. Otherwise, the path to execution can seem so overwhelming, people can't conjure up the energy. Ford has a massive plan, and only if they can execute this plan will they pull through this crisis. (Assuming it is the right strategy.)

It's the beginning of the year, and a lot of organizations have "announced the grand plan," that will fall short unless leaders energize the talent, set rewards and recognition in place to support it and have visible tracking of results.

I am curious to know what has made execution of strategies or changes work in your organization and not work?