Fierce Excerpts: Closing the strategy-to-execution gap. (HBR)

brandfiercely1Fierce Excerpts, Fierce Strategy + Creative, From the CEO

*Image and graph below from HBR.

Now Reading | Only 8% of Leaders are Good at Both Strategy and Execution. (HBR)

According to HBR, a 2013 survey of nearly 700 executives across a variety of industries asked respondents to rate the effectiveness of the top leaders of their companies. Only 16% of top leaders were rated very effective at either strategy or execution. Only 8% were very effective at both, while 63% were rated neutral or worse on at least one dimension.

Strategy from HBR

We believe so strongly in strategy, both business strategy and even more specifically, brand strategy, that we put the word in the name of our company—and led with it over creative. Every project we begin starts with research and strategy because we have learned over the decades that strategy is critical to achieve success with any creative or advertising brand endeavor. We have the best success when we work with CEO’s who have a vision and keen insight into their company’s strategy for the future—and who have empowered both their executive team and Fierce as their strategic partner to help execute it.

According to HBR, they found five leadership acts that help leaders close the strategy-to-execution gap.

Commit to an identity. As a leader, you can become a symbolic figure, a model of commitment. You have something powerful to sell: a message about identity and the need to stay with that identity over time. As you demonstrate the courage of those convictions, you develop the influence and impact needed to build an extraordinary company.

Translate the strategic into the everyday. Although you occupy a top executive position, you also “get your hands in the mud,” as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz puts it in his book Pour Your Heart into It. You become the architect of the capabilities you need, the chief of builders. In these roles, you operate at a fine-grained level of detail so that you can see, sense, and touch the details of everyday activity. But you also raise your view high enough that you clearly see — and show others — how all your global capabilities fit the value you offer customers. You need two kinds of perspectives, nearsighted and farsighted, simultaneously, and you can only develop them this way.

Put your culture to work. As a leader, you are infused with your company’s culture. You are a primary champion of emotional commitment. You practice mutual accountability; everyone’s success is important to you. Through teaching and learning, you devote yourself to the cultivation of collective mastery. You do all this in a way that matches the unique cultural attributes of your company, which are grounded in its capabilities system. You don’t act like you come from a remote corner office; you act like you are one with the company’s culture.

Cut costs to grow stronger. Your company consistently allocates its resources with an eye toward strategic priorities. As a leader, you do the same with your personal resources, particularly your time and attention. Are you devoting enough to the most critical capabilities and the value proposition they support? Or are you squandering too much time and attention on immediate demands, responding to everybody else’s idea of what is important?

Shape the future. As a leader, you are one of the first to experience the constant challenge of external change. You can muster the fortitude (and humility) to recognize when change in yourself is required. You build an extremely capable team, knowing that ultimately the future will depend on developing the next generation of leaders.

Enjoy the entire article here.

Here’s a great article on what can happen when there is no strategy—and when ideas are not fully vetted or tested properly.