• Jim Payne

Strategy vs. Execution – Which should be the Primary Focus?

ExecutionA company with a bad strategy but good execution skills can correct their strategy overnight. The company with a great strategy and the inability to execute is still toast.


So how do you improve your execution skills in a small business setting?

  1. Set goals that fit your strategy. Put them in writing, even if you are a sole proprietor. Writing them forces you to think about them.

  2. Communicate the goals clearly. Talk about them regularly while looking at the written goals. If your talked goals are starting to drift from the written, rewrite them.

  3. Develop checklists for the things you do. There is a reason pilots use checklists. It means everybody is accomplishing the flight tasks in the same order. If you have a checklist, training that new employee is a lot easier.

  4. Debrief regularly. Discuss what went right and what went wrong with everybody. Look for patterns that might be incrementally improved. A “stand-up” meeting every morning laying out the day's tasks and a brief discussion of what happened yesterday is probably the least costly approach to improving execution that exists for small businesses.

I did not include measurement systems in this list for a reason. Small businesses, most of which have fewer than 10 employees, simply don’t have the time or ability to produce elaborate goal measurements. Producing some half-assed measurements that measure the wrong things can be very damaging. Until you get to the size where you can afford professional management, measurement systems will have to be skipped.

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