Strategy Execution and Growth

Strategy Execution = High Performance

In the year 2000, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton wrote “The Knowing-Doing Gap”, yet we still face most of the challenges they describe. Likewise, John Kotter’s 8-step Change Management process has been with us since 1995, yet McKinsey’s research (MQ, May 2008) found the amount of successful change initiatives unchanged…at 30% effectiveness!

We may know what needs to be done…but we are not, in the main, doing it. MBA students are encouraged to be strategic, but not always how to be a great team player, leading self and others effectively. By understanding execution, we become more strategic and merge “people” and “operational” elements through attention to results and relationships.

Is there a gap between what you know you “should do” and what is currently being prioritised, or between actions and desired outcomes? If so, you need support that isn’t “off-the-shelf”, but rather a focused intervention to address the root cause / source of the gaps, with measurable, personalised follow-up. Performance is “potential minus interference” (Gallwey, 1976) and the inner and outer interference needs to be managed well to sustain excellent results.

Growth Beyond “Sales” and “Performance Management”

Creativity, problem-solving and relationship-building cannot be outsourced to machines. Likewise, values and the culture they create define team-working through leadership behaviour and business interfaces. Customer-facing teams need to be excellent at establishing trust, demonstrating authenticity and being able to apply people skills to expand the scope of work – via curiosity and interest in the customer. These skills are not, unfortunately, “natural”, but rather developed over time. We all need to be equipped to get more out of our ourselves and our relationships.

Team members need to enhance rapport, develop understanding, facilitate engagement and gain buy-in. A modern, collaborative approach enables good listening and empathy that draws out actual needs (versus perceived needs) and establishes trust. Ethical persuasion, robust dialogue and negotiation skill additionally enhance stakeholder relationships accountably.

Feedback and Collaboration

Many organisations, for example GE and Adobe, have “rebooted” performance appraisals – ratings, rankings and annual reviews! It may seem strange, since GE pioneered many of the leading practices in this domain, but what these agile businesses are doing¹ is moving towards:

  1. more “fluid”, quickly adaptable objectives
  2. frequent “feedback discussions” (replacing six or 12-monthly feedback)
  3. future-focussed developmental coaching (as opposed to retrospective rating and ranking) and
  4. emphasising collaboration rather than individualism.

This is, in essence, a non-Western approach: “collectivism” is core to Eastern cultures and pivotal to African ubuntu. “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” is the isiZulu phase for this – a person is fully human (and finds meaning)  because of other people. Your organisation needs buy-in, not just compliance; innovation, not just consistency. Are your teams able to be open with each other and fully trust each other? Are they accountable, committed and achieving the desired results? Your clients require a partner, not a vendor; a trusted ally and advisor, not a salesperson. Service now happens at the speed of the “Internet of Things” – or the “speed of trust”, as Stephen Covey famous wrote. No longer will clients be restricted to office hours or happy to wait three days for a response. They will tweet their dissatisfaction to the universe within 3 hours instead.

Customers and Employees need knowledgeable, trusted partners to help them surge ahead – someone who takes a keen interest in understanding their business operations and needs.

Focused People would like to help you be that partner, sustainably. We help individuals to achieve their potential within their organisational context and to become critical thinkers in their various roles. We diagnose where the gaps are between strategy and implementation – personally, interpersonally and contextually and equip team members to use coaching expertise to deepen relationships – sustainably.


¹ Ewenstein, Hancock, & Komm, Ahead of the curve: The future of performance management, McKinsey Quarterly, May 2016.