The Difference Between Business Strategy and Implementation

Vicki Wright Hamilton sitting in chair holding cash smiling

A successful endeavor begins with a clear objective — and a carefully crafted plan to accomplish it. However, many times, visionaries are left on one of two sides. They either launch full force with an idea and no clear path, “building the plane while flying,” and jump into changes before they’ve thought the process through. Or they focus on each individual step and revise their business strategy to the point of delaying concrete action and not realizing their vision.

Both extremes can be detrimental to your organization, and today, we’re discussing the role each component plays in a successful venture.

What Is Business Strategy?

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

At its core, a strategy is a plan that brings your organization closer to its objectives. Creating a business strategy requires you to take stock of your starting point and your ultimate goal. Then, it’s time to measure the gap and outline the resources and steps you will need to take to reach that goal.

A thorough strategy comprises many moving parts that work together, from specific action items and milestones to individual performance metrics that amount to success.

Strategy is a broad term, and it has multiple layers within an organization. There is an overarching corporate strategy that dictates where the organization is moving as a whole. There is also a strategy for each business unit to produce outcomes that support the organization.

Each organization’s size and structure dictate how many layers there are, with bigger, more complex structures requiring more. A multinational tech company’s strategy will be vastly different from a small SaaS team operating locally.

The Core Elements of Business Strategy

Regardless of the size and complexity of your organization, strategy comprises a few key elements that amount to success.

Objectives. Any successful strategy begins with a laser-focused objective. What are you trying to accomplish, and why?

Analysis. What is your current situation, and how does it compare to where you want to be? It’s best to use quantifiable data and metrics for a more accurate assessment. Similarly, you’ll want to analyze how you fare against competitors and your industry as a whole. SWOT Analysis is a great tool for this phase.

Resources. These are the money, human capital, and other tangible or intangible assets available to you. Your available resources dictate what a realistic objective is and how you can work to achieve it. And your strategy guides how you will leverage these resources. Some examples include software, connections, workforce, and brand recognition.

Tactics. Here is where the work gets done. Many visionaries use the terms tactic and strategy interchangeably, but in reality, a tactic is a practical step or a specific function within your organization that builds momentum to realize your strategy and reach your objective.

Measures. Once you begin implementing your tactics, it is time to measure the results. In most cases, results build up over time, so it makes sense to track progress periodically, perhaps monthly or quarterly, instead of at the end. This approach allows you to pivot if things aren’t going as expected or find opportunities if a tactic performs better than you planned. The quantifiable data you identified during your analysis will serve as a benchmark for this step.

Common Failures of Strategy Implementation

No Clear Objective

As I mentioned above, a laser-focused objective is essential for success. In an ever-changing business environment, it’s tempting to react to the market immediately instead of taking the time to assess the situation, but doing so results in improvisation and, generally, a lack of results.

A Half-baked Strategy

An effective business strategy must be comprehensive and account for as many scenarios as possible to lead to success. Change is natural, and there is no way to predict everything that can happen throughout your strategy. But preparation is essential. Elements like a risk management plan allow you to prepare for worst-case scenarios and overcome obstacles.

Lack of Resources

There is a lot of merit to being resourceful and doing more with less. However, working with limited resources strains your team and limits their ability to deliver greatness. A well-thought-out strategy establishes a realistic objective based on the available resources and leaves room for adjusting along the way.

Your team needs the systems and processes to leverage their tools and skills and execute your strategy for maximum impact.

Organizational Silos

Not everyone requires access to every bit of information; in fact, I’d argue that over-sharing can hurt your organization as much as over-compartmentalizing information. Still, implementing a strategy requires alignment between the involved parties.

Breaking organizational silos may look like implementing DevOps or RevOps. Or perhaps, it requires your department heads to work closely together as you walk toward your objective.

Strategy Is Your Roadmap. Implementation Is Your Vehicle

Implementation is where the magic happens. If your business strategy is the brains of the operation, your implementation is the muscle. At this stage, your team is executing your plans and approaching your objectives.

Implementation is also the scary part, where you risk everything to chase that objective. But with the right strategy, you minimize the risk. If you have a clear, valuable objective that drives your desired outcome, committed leaders, an aligned team, and the resources to work sustainably, you’re well on your way to achieving greatness.

Are you ready to step into greatness? I’ll be honored to be your guide as realize your organization’s greatest potential. Schedule a discovery call to explore how we can work together.

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