February 10, 2019

Execution is the new business strategy

Jacques Velleman, business strategy

When leaders are asked what they have the most difficulty with, putting a business strategy plan together or executing on this plan, the answer was surprising.

Everybody talks about strategy and how important having a strategy is. However, without it being executed, it just stays a nice to have. Most leaders answered that they have a business strategy or plan. Their biggest challenge is the execution thereof.

Through research and experience, here is a short explanation of the first step needed to make a strategy happen.

Each team and person should have no more than two wildly important goals (WIGs) to focus on in a specific period, say your next quarter ending February 2019. A WIG should be extracted from the business strategy and relate to the winning moves you identify that will ensure you stay competitive in your industry and adding value to your customers.

Let me just stop here for a moment. When we say adding value to customers, let’s get real about what that means. If you are uncertain about the unique promise(s) that you offer clients and you don’t have an ability to measure whether you fulfil that promise(s), you need to make that your first goal to achieve before your next business strategy workshop.


Because if you cannot measure your promise, how can clients hold you accountable? That is correct. Clients need to hold you accountable for what you are offering, promising them. Then you have a differentiator in place and you will be in business no matter the circumstances.

I once attended a workshop, where the facilitator shared a story about thinking out of the box. One of the participants then asked, What box? The penny dropped for me then. When you speak about the box, you are acknowledging its existence and run the risk of focussing too much on your box, your current circumstance. When you ask, ‘What box?’, the message is that you are already in innovation territory, where no boxes exist. 

This brings me the point of the tough economic circumstances we are currently in. ‘What tough economic circumstance?’, you might say. If you do, your focus is in the right place; adding value to clients. And there will always be work for you.

Clients love it when you can add value and prove to them the value you added. Make sure your systems are in place to measure value added to clients, so next time around the dinner table you can reply, ‘What tough economy?’.

Let me get back to WIGs.

For the finance department, a WIG cannot be too complete the audit for the year-end. Completing the audit is part of normal operations and definitely, not a winning move.

A WIG for the finance department would much rather be something like decreasing overhead as a percentage of sales, say from 35% to 28% by 30 June 2019.

So you will notice a WIG has to be from a certain starting point (35%) to your envisaged state (28%) by a certain time (30 June 2019). This is an extremely important part of the equation. If you don’t know what your starting point is (the 35%), it means you are not measuring it. Just like one of my clients, who wanted to ensure that 100% of all deliveries are met on time, i.e delivered as per customer expectation.

When asked how many of their current deliveries were on time, they sucked their thumb and came up with the number 60%. Not good enough. They then started (and it took them a while) reporting on all deliveries and matching actual delivery times with expected delivery times.

The real answer was that only 30% of deliveries were on time, and not 60% as they initially thought! As Jim Collins reflect in his best seller, Good to Great. Face the brutal fact!  My client did and set a goal to increase deliveries from 30% to 100% by 30 June 2019.

I am happy to report that at 78% currently, they are well on their way. It has made a substantial difference in their ability to sell and increase their revenues. 

business strategy
Execute your business strategy

Jacques Velleman is CEO of Centred. He’s a professional speaker, business consultant and coach. He’ll help you execute your business strategy

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