When executives were asked to name their number one barrier to effective strategy execution, the top two answers were company culture and past habits. Maybe it’s just how we’re wired as humans. Think about it: we set New Year’s resolutions, only to have the overwhelming majority of them fail by the end of January. Or we get our annual physical and find out that we need to exercise more, eat healthier and quit smoking. So, we try for a few weeks or months but eventually we fall back on our old habits. It happens all the time.
So why should organizations that are made up of humans be any different? And how can we learn to break through the strexecution point?
There are two schools of thought about the best way to improve execution. One school emphasizes people. Like Jim Collins says in his book Good to Great, “Get the right people on the bus, get them in the right seat and get the wrong people off the bus.” The idea is that you hire great employees, train them well and improve their performance through the creation of a culture of accountability. The second school of thought emphasizes processes rather than people. In his book The E-Myth Manager, Michael Gerber says, “The system is the solution. Without a system you’re playing Russian Roulette with the results.” According to this school, you should manage the systems and let the employees manage themselves.
History has shown that organizations that combine both schools of thought have delivered the best results to their stakeholders. The top organizations combine attention to process with attention to their people, and this combination leads them to experience the greatest success in executing their strategy. They realize that people are the ones who both drive and follow the processes and systems necessary to execute the corporate strategy. They realize that both systems and people are essential, and successful companies incorporate the two exceptionally well.
Click here to see Gary’s article on Breaking Through the Strexecution Point.