Every company I have been associated with has had a strategy. In just about every company I have been associated with I have been able to identify and understand the strategy. This is usually a good thing. The more people who understand the strategy, the more people will get aligned to it and the more people who can execute it.

In business as in competition as in war for that matter, no plan of attack or “strategy” survives contact with reality intact. They must be continually modified and updated as the environment, risks and opportunities change. It may not be the entity with the best strategy that wins. It is usually the one that best executes their strategy that wins.

There are two basic aspects of the strategy process: The setting of the strategy and the implementing of the strategy. Setting a strategy entails understanding the current environment, the desired end state and then putting together the steps on how to get there. Too often it is easy to confuse the desired end state, or goal with the strategy. The goal is “what” you want. The strategy is “How” you get there.

I continue to be a little surprised by the number of people that want to be involved in the strategy aspect of business. As I noted above, every business already has a strategy. As I also noted above the strategy must continue to evolve as it is executed because the execution of a strategy changes the environment, which in turn requires a change to the strategy. It seems that there is no shortage of people who want to say how things should be done.

Let’s now address accountability here. I have heard it put very simply, so I will relate it the same way here:

Saying is not doing.

Doing is doing.

Doing is much harder than saying.

The setting of a strategy is good, but the executing of a strategy is much more valuable. One is “saying”, the other is “doing”. In today’s business world there is a get it done approach to things. If faced with a choice between someone who will say how to get things done, and someone who will do it, almost every leader will choose the person who can get things done.

Strategy is an important aspect of business. It just shouldn’t be separated from the accountability associated with getting it executed. It is difficult to measure a strategy, but much easier to measure its execution.

I remember seeing a post game interview with John McKay, when he was the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They had just lost something like their sixteenth game in a row. They were discussing his game plan for that game. They didn’t ask him if it was a good game plan or strategy. They asked him what he thought of his team’s execution that day.

He answered simply. He said he was in favor of it.

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