Chapter 28It's the Delivery, Stupid!4 (Execution is Everything)

Execution is paramount.

Ninety per cent of strategies fail due to poor execution. Every CEO has a strategy. It may be clear and it may be eminently achievable. Yet, nine times out of ten, it is not delivered.

The CEO's biggest challenge is not formulating the strategy; it is getting their organisation to execute it.

As the CEO of Heineken Americas put it to me a few years ago, ‘Having a clearly defined strategy execution plan is critical to our success. The process of having every executive present their business execution plans to each other, including the interdependencies between their departments, is invaluable.’

So why do most strategies fail? Thousands of business pages have been dedicated to answering this rather straightforward question, but in my experience it boils down to four main reasons:

  1. Lack of genuine commitment from the top
  2. Insufficient engagement with managers and key influencers
  3. Poor communication
  4. The absence of a robust strategy execution plan.


It may not seem so at the time, but developing a strategy is the easy bit. Delivering it is tough. It demands unwavering commitment from the Chairman, the Board, the CEO and every single member of the executive team. If these people aren't fully aligned and totally committed to the delivery of the strategy, or if they fold at the first sign of resistance, the strategy will never be delivered.

Engage Your People in Strategy Development

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