What is Strategic Execution Management?  

Execution Management - An Overview

This is the starting chapter of the entire encyclopedia on 'Execution- Making it Happen'. It sets the context of what Execution is and what it is not. It shares the paradox of why Execution is not a discipline, inspite of it being most critical to the success of an organization.

What is Strategic Execution Management?

Execution Management is essentially translating your strategy into reality. It is not just accomplishing a task or a goal, but also to achieve the underlying business objectives. It has to enable a constant review and fine-tuning of your strategy. A good execution management will focus on WHAT as well as HOW of an achievement. Execution management is linked to culture and people management, but is not their parent.

Definition of Execution Management 'Making it Happen'-

Execution Management is the set of tools and processes to translate your strategy and business plan into reality.

Clarification on terminologies:

You can also refer strategic planning for more details.

Strategy-Blueprint: A longer term (3-5 years) strategic plan on what, why and how.
Strategic Themes: The key themes on the basis of which you develop your strategic plan.
Strategic Business Plan:Â Strategy blue-print translated into shorter (say annual) term plans, which are more detailed.
Business Objectives: Higher level longer term targets. These are used in Strategy blue-print.
Business Goals: Shorter term targets, and derived from the business objectives. These are used in the strategic business plan.

Business objective vs. business goals is like winning a tournament vs. scoring a goal

What is Execution Management?

NOTE- Many of the items in the following list may not be within control and influence of lower levels in the management hierarchy and have to be viewed from that context.

Execution Management is achievement of business objectives

Let us say that you have a goal of setting-up an ATM network and getting one million cash dispensations in a year. This target accomplishment will be considered successful, only if it meets underlying business objectives. Business objective in this case, could be adding X dollars to the earnings per share, OR generating Y dollars of additional revenue OR generating higher level customer value from existing customers.

Execution Management is to achieve relative business objectives

Let us say that you have a business goal of selling one million sales units at a given price. The underlying business objective could be to achieve X% market share. If the market size itself has increased beyond what you expected and whole industry has gained from it, you need to re-look at your business goal itself. In this case the execution will be considered successful, if you have been able to move in relation to the competition, and not only from absolute perspective.

Execution Management is the revision of your strategy in business as usual

EM is not only delivering on a static strategy. It also includes constantly revising your strategy in the face of new information, changes in the environment, changes in your SWOT and your experiences on delivery capability.

For example- Let us say that you have delivered one million dollars of sale (net of taxes) in the past year. Due to the excise tax cuts, the price in the hand of the customer has gone down, and the demand has increased. A robust EM process should respond to this change in the external environment and should drive a revision in your targets.

Another example- Let us say that there is a change in the internal environment like you having contracted a large 3rd party distributor. As you assess the strengths of the distributor, an EM process could drive a revision in your strategy to develop products, which your distributor is good in selling at.

Execution Management is not only 'what', but also 'how'

Apart from achieving the business objective (longer-term) OR the business goal (short-term), execution management also includes the way you accomplished the task. example- EM will not only look at you setting up an ATM network, but also on the qualitative aspects of your goal. The qualitative aspects could be the premium locations, proximity to your target customer segments, minimum number of operational issues etc...

Execution Management should drive performance assessment

Execution Management should be able to throw-up the performance levels of the individuals, functions, teams and processes. Execution management should be able to send the message to the performing entities on their performance levels, much before the performance feedback is given by the manager.

What Execution Management is not?

Execution Management is not only culture management

Managing organization culture is linked to execution management, and EM contributes to the values, beliefs and character of an organization. EM is not focusing upon culture. Culture is important for performance of an organization and for long-term sustainability. From ExecutionMiH.com perspective, culture is a larger subject. A case in example is that there are many equally successful companies having very diverse cultures.

Execution Management is not only People Management

Execution Management does not include aspects related to leadership development, hiring strategy and placing right person for the right job. We are placing people management as a separate subject, as it has a bearing on the performance management.

Components of Execution Management

Aligning all enablers to your strategy

This is core to your EM and not a step. Your resources, your people, your rewards, your process should be aligned to your strategic choices and priorities.

Performance Reporting and Assessment Tools- Dashboards and Scorecards

'Whatever is measured and reported gets done'. The dashboards and Scorecards can be the holistic vehicles in managing your execution. Designing your dashboards and scorecards (D & S in short) is first step in EM. Post designing, one has to lay down the process of producing the Dashboards & Scorecards. Dashboards are created for a quick and highly frequent operational review for key performance parameters. The scorecards are for holistic and more comprehensive performance review including all performance parameters. There is a visible difference in the content, and process of Dashboards vs. scorecards.

Performance Review using dashboard and scorecards

Apart from real-time and ad-hoc review, one needs to do the performance review on periodic basis, with a dedicated time assigned for this exercise. Performance review sessions are not only looking at 'what is happening?', but also on

  • Why is it happening?
  • What are we going to do about it?
  • What is our performance projections in the future?
  • What external and internal factors have changed, which should make us look at our strategy?
  • Has our SWOT changed?
  • Do we need a change in our strategy OR business plan?

Individual Performance Management

Finally it boils down to how well an individual is performing, which leads to the performance at organization, functional, team and process level. Managing performance at the level of an individual is a well practiced subject and there is a lot literature on the same. Performance Management process for an individual includes goal-setting (including the success definition of the goals), development planning (areas of learning and skill development to enable an individual to perform in her current and the future roles) and a period performance review process.