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Finding a Balance: Strategy vs Execution

As part of our #MondayMotivation series this week, we explored the concept of Strategy vs Execution and how to commit to action in order to execute your strategy. We all have ideas. We all have plans. But when it comes to realizing those plans, we often find ourselves stuck in the middle of nowhere, grappling with a plethora of questions. Should we spend more time on strategy or should we just begin executing what we already have? Should we gather more information to create a perfect strategy or should we try to make progress with what we have? This dilemma can be quite daunting and often leads to a state of inertia and productivity paralysis. 

Group executing a strategy

Strategy vs Execution: What’s the difference?

Strategy refers to the 'big picture' – the overall approach and direction that will guide your actions. It is about developing a compelling vision, setting the right goals for alignment, identifying the best possible ways to achieve the goals and any barriers to execute that may arise, and outlining the key steps to get there. On the other hand, execution is about taking action, getting things done, and making progress towards your goals. It involves the implementation of the plans laid out in the strategy and measuring the effectiveness of those actions to identify areas of improvement. This is where navigating the barriers to execute you previously identified takes life so that your execution is not derailed. 

Finding a Balance

So, how does one strike a balance between the two? The key lies in understanding that strategy and execution are not mutually exclusive. They are interdependent facets of the same coin. A well-crafted strategy without effective execution is simply a dream, and relentless execution without a sound strategy may lead to chaos and inefficiency. Think of strategy as an opportunity to “imagine the future, then make a plan to get there.” It’s an opportunity to align your vision and goals with action in order to rally the troops to achieve key metrics. 

✅  Take Action

In order to imagine a better future, Leaders should first imagine a better today. As a Team, consider the following:

  • What would a good future look like for the Team?

  • How is that future different from what you have now?

  • What would a better now look like for the Team?

  • How is the “better now” different from the “now” you currently have?

  • What can the Team do right now to get to a ’better now’?

Have an open discussion as a Team as each person shares their inputs. Encourage everyone to identify how their role supports their vision of a “better now.” Then use the team inputs to map out an implementation plan that gets you to a better today.

Perfection, the Pivot, and Progress

It's important to spend adequate time on strategy – identifying what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, and how you plan to do so. Once you have a clear strategy in place, shift your focus to execution. Start taking action on the strategy, regularly review your progress, and tweak your approach as necessary. Don’t be afraid to pivot as you execute…the journey to your “better now” will not be linear. The idea is to not let planning get in the way of executing. Remember, perfection is the enemy of progress. 

Strategy and execution are both important and crucial to success. As James Clear suggests, the key is to identify where the bottleneck lies in your path to achieving your goals, and then address it effectively. Whether it's refining your strategy or ramping up your execution, success lies in finding that balance and not letting perfection paralyze your productivity. 

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Looking forward to working with you to #EngineerBetterLeaders


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