Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Strategy execution – from theory to practice (1)

This blog intends to take you beyond understanding strategy execution, the focus of last week’s blog, to mastering how to attain the normally elusive execution-excellence. And as we will find out later, it boils down to certain specific leadership traits.

Got the right view to execute? Get on the balcony for a Twiga-view [read: helicopter-view]!
Achieving execution-excellence is more of a behaviour than technical mastery issue. There are individual characters that a leader needs to have to take strategy beyond mere implementation of the plan. Clearly, execution-excellence is more than the A-Z of rolling out the strategy implementation plan. It’s not an ‘instructions-manual’ tick-box exercise

Leadership teams at organisations may indeed realise the intended results of a strategy blueprint, moreover within an extremely lean/mean input/output resource combination, but still, fail to achieve the bottom line effect/impact on the target market. You have heard of companies that did everything right in regards to implementing their strategy, but still failed to realise the desired effect/impact on the market

It’s for the above reason that a CEO fails to attain the required impact/effect (efficacy) on the market, only for a new CEO to be hired, and with the same implementation plan, succeeds at attaining the efficacy that eluded the predecessor. Strategy execution-excellence is indeed a DNA ‘thing’. It’s driven by the decisions and activities a CEO and teams under them make.

Like successful entrepreneurs, CEO’s that succeed at execution-excellence have the knack for not following standard management blueprints. They aren’t your ordinary, tick-box, follower type individuals. They have a unique USP, not always visible to the naked OD. eye

Are you primed for strategy execution-excellence?

It’s clear from the above narrative that execution-excellence goes beyond the mundane roll-out of strategy-activities at a company. Execution gets us into the subtle elements of human behaviour especially for those at the helm of organisations. Typical of the bionically-balanced entity, the knack for seamless integration of ‘People’ dynamics into the other organisational vitals (OV’s) like Strategy, Design (architecture), and Leadership drives execution-excellence.

Organisational bionic-balance is attained when leaders and managers think and execute decisions in a zig-zag pattern. Mastering the OV-oscillation that takes place when managers swing from one OV extreme to another, is what differentiates the novice strategy executioner and the guru. Leaders and managers, at any one time, need to have the balcony-view of matters OV: i.e. Leadership, Strategy, Organisational Design, and People.

Leaders and managers that successfully execute strategy have to simultaneously perceive and analyse the organization’s context, and make instant macro and micro decisions on:

  • How to get the best out of people
  • How to organise teams to deliver efficacy
  • How to get staff and other stakeholders to understand and buy into company strategy
  • And how to provide the right leadership for all OV components and sub-components

The intangibles that set successful executioners apart from the pack

Upon close analysis, the intangibles below, [read: quintessential leadership traits at the Effectiveness lab] directly impact execution-excellence:

  1. Pendulum oversight. Leaders that exhibit this intangible have the ability to swing like a pendulum between strategic, tactical, and operational level issues. In doing the latter, the leaders juxtapose the three levels against the four OV’s. Pendulum oversight leaders have a good command of what happens at the frontline of organisations, mid-level structures and all the way to the executive and board levels. More importantly, they bring the ability to not only swing like a pendulum across these three levels but can seamlessly connect the dots at the three tiers 24/7 vs. the four OV’s, moreover both physically and virtually.
  2. From the above pendulum-oversight, leaders attain a helicopter-view position of their organisation and with that, put into practice their knack for identifying black spots across the organisation. Such leaders have a unique aptitude for telling where such black spots are or might appear. Leaders can then direct management efforts towards the black-spots. Such leaders are clearly in cruise mode/control and get the trust of the cadres below them.
  3. The cumulative effect of adopting pendulum-oversight and the helicopter view position that supports the identification of black spots brings out a unique yet critical intangible in quintessential leaders. The capability to relate what they observe, to the people that work for them in the organisation. Quintessential leaders have the unique DNA that puts them in their worker’s shoes. In doing so, they get to understand why employees behave the way they do. It is when a leader can understand the underlying cause of a worker’s behaviour, and ultimately achievement or non-achievement of goals, that they can get the best out of them. Empathetic leaders are comfortable with the ‘commitment-to-development’ of their workers.
  4. With leaders in the know of why employees behave the way they do, they can deploy viable and sustainable commitment-to-people-development strategies. Moreover, such leaders do the latter without dependence on complex and archaic HR talent-gap identification systems. Such capability comes naturally to them and in such chiefs, is a ‘mobile talent development unit.’
  5. Armed with the above four, a quintessential leader attains the ability to seamlessly make small yet significant incremental changes to the value chain of the organisation. Friends, there is not the time to wait for large scale change-episodes at organisations. Quintessential leaders make change a seamless part of their organisation’s value chain. Such leaders shall convince their staff to sign a contract with the organisation, that is only honoured by the organisation if there is a continuous search for newness and change.

Do you have the DNA to achieve strategy execution-excellence?

Do you want to learn from failed strategy executioners and avoid making the same mistakes?  See you next week!






3 responses to “Strategy execution – from theory to practice (1)”

  1. Herbert Mugumya Avatar
    Herbert Mugumya

    Apollo…. you nailed it. Have a question, given your experience in Not for profit and for profit companies, is there differences in implementing execution excellence esp give offshore leaders that impact on management outcomes of these companied here in Africa?


    1. Kairu – thanks for reading and appreciating the blog

      If I get your question right Kairu, you are asking if differences in approach between those of us here and our offshore colleagues, who influence EE from afar …..ultimately affects one’s EE value add

      Well – in all fairness whether you are operating in Hawaii or Uganda or Nakabugu my village, the same EE essentials apply

      The difference however comes when those that operate from afar, simply don’t have the facts – context – data – knowledge to ably manipulate the five needs elaborated in this blog for delivering EE

      Example: some one working at your head office won’t simply know your local staff well enough and that undermines their individual value add for Uganda when it comes to EE – sadly many don’t acknowledge this reality and will try to occupy ground they shouldn’t – this is esp true in traditional Charities where our bottom lines are soft – we at times get away with murder!


      1. I agree,


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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