Consider the recent article, “Why Strategy Execution Unravels — and What to Do About It“ by Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, and Charles Sull, in the March 2015 issue of HBR. Articles like this are well meaning and all set out to overcome the shortfalls of “execution.” But they all fail, including this one, and for the same reason: you can’t prescribe a fix for something that you can’t describe. And no one can describe “strategy execution” in a way that does not conflict with “strategy.”
Blaming poor execution for the failure of your “brilliant” strategy is a part of what I’ve termed “The Execution Trap” — how “brilliant” can your strategy really be if it wasn’t implementable?
It’s impossible to have a good strategy poorly executed. That’s because execution actually is strategy – trying to separate the two only leads to confusion.