Mr Rajesh was a very popular manager in our organization. His skills in organizing and planning was very well appreciated by one and all in his division, particularly his efficiency in organizing monthly meetings as well as planning activities with team members. Mr Rajesh was very hopeful that he will do well during his annual appraisal and was confident that he will be considered for promotion, to the next level. But to his dismay, the appraisal meeting did not go well. During his performance review, I had to explain to him that though he was very good in organizing and planning his annual operating program as per budget, he was rather very poor in executing the annual plans as per the objectives of our organization! In fact, there were many complaints from across markets and also from some dealers that Mr Rajesh was unable to fulfill the aspiration levels of his customers due to his inability to execute business plans !
As a managers or team leaders, we may also have faced similar situations in our day to day business. Despite putting their maximum time and effort at work, many employees seldom end-up successfully accomplishing their individual as well as organizational goals. It is observed that most manager’s are very good and comfortable in `planning and organizing’ their activities, but totally lag when it comes to actually putting their plans to `action and measuring results’. In other words, they are very good in `implementation’ but poor in `execution’.
What is implementation ?
According to dictionary, `to implement’ means, to begin with, to set on, or to start a course of activities as listed’. Many times implementation is all about what we are actually doing ie; what is `listed’ in a day to day basis and checking the same whether the task is done as per the `to-do-list’. Once we `tick’ everything as per `to-do-list’, we presume that our work is completed and results will follow automatically !
Studies have shown that, in a corporate organization, implementation happen at three important levels;
(1) Corporate level : Implementation of corporate strategies at this level are done by CEO’s/MD’s etc. They focus on making important strategic decisions for implementation at top levels such as; What business should their company mainly focus ?, What should be the capabilities that their company distinguish from others ?, How they can add value to their business etc. ?
(2) Business Unit level: The regional Business Development Manager’s are responsible for implementation of strategies at unit levels. Their responsibilities involve in the implementation of business improvements as per organizations goals and objectives. For instance, they focus in areas such as; Which should be their market for their product and who are their real customers ?, What should be the value proposition that differentiates their product, brand and services from other competitors ?, What additional capabilities they should develop to increase their value proposition in the markets etc.?
(3) Sales Officers level : The duty and responsibilities of sales officers involve in transforming the annual operating plans of their regional business unit to markets and customers using the distribution channels. Their aim is to effectively implement the plans as per the budgets and ensure proper market penetration and customer reach, till the last mile and ensure regular cash flow to the unit.
What then is, Business Execution ?
The responsibility of `Business Execution’ is much more important than `planning, organizing, and or implementing’. Execution is one of the biggest challenges most of the manager’s face in today’s prevailing `VUCA’ environment. According to Prof. Ram Charan, Execution of business strategies is about `measuring the impact of those actions on the results you want to achieve for yourself or organization’. In other words, when a strategy that is implemented become a `commercial success’, it is considered as an `execution excellence’. Many companies implement things, be it a software, FMCG products, process, training, a strategy, or policy, only to find that they do not realize what they set out to do or achieve results they were led to believe could be achieved. The specific reason is that they fail to take steps and actions that will make the implementation a commercial success; in other words, they fail to `Execute’.
For example, let us view how the above same three levels of strategy implementation gets executed in any organization.
(1) Corporate level: Top level management should ensure that the business which they want to focus is finalized and necessary time bound actions are taken for the same. They need to plan and select the right kind of people who can head different divisions and also organize the execution of the business plan in a proper manner so as to get results. Top management should ensure that the process of execution involve the right kind of people at the right job, doing the right things and also retaining and developing the right people in their organization. Finally, the top team should work out the commercial venture of the business ie; overall budget and financial outlay for the proposed project along with expected revenue, profit, ROI etc., involving people, process and operations.
(2) Business Unit level: Managers at unit level will have to ensure that the annual operating plan of their company is executed at market as well as at customer level, with their team members. They need to take actions to complete their annual goals through team motivation and development, proper sales and distribution network, take proactive action on how to position product(s) at customer end, improve the overall regional level business, and brand building in the long run.
(3) Sales Officer level : Sales team should focus on ` Point-of-sale’ activities, servicing customers, liquidation of inventories at stock points and ensure continuous flow of revenue at divisional level.