“How do you set yourself up for execution of a strategy?”
We certainly hear the phrase a lot in the corporate world – the hardest part of any strategy is in its execution. But what is the reason for this? And how can we change it?
The truth is, I never found executing a strategy to be all that difficult. Achieving every strategic objective – now that’s a different story. But if you have a solid plan and you’ve put it in a format that can be easily communicated to drive a team into action, then the execution part becomes a lot easier. The trick, though, is to actually communicate your plan so that your team can help you to execute it. And to do that, you have to not only tell people about your plan, you have to tell them the story of your plan.
In the book I wrote, Creative Strategy Generation, I developed a strategic storytelling tool that I call The Strategic Arc. As the name implies, this is a simple 5-stage storytelling arc based on the dramatic arc that is popular with screen and play writers. Shown below, The Strategic Arc encourages you to organize your strategic story in the following order:
- Situation – This is the introduction to your story where you lay out all of your characters in the form of your company, your customers, your competitors, and whatever macro-level trends you are all dealing with.
- Problem – This is the rising action of your story where you uncover whatever problem or issue you are trying to solve for.
- Solution – This is the climax of your story where you lay out the main points of your strategic plan.
- Execution – This is the falling action of your story where you talk about your action plan and whatever resources and investments you might need to carry out your plan.
- Results – This is the dénouement or resolution to your story where you reveal exactly what results your plan is expected to deliver and when.
If you develop your strategy using this simple formula, your story will practically write itself. More importantly, this simple framework will allow you to connect your strategy to your team. And with a fully bought-in team behind you, executing your strategy may just become the easiest part of your plan.
Listen to the podcast episode
Dear Strategy: Episode 011