Without Execution, Your Firm Doesn't Have A Strategy

By Tim Williams

By Tim Williams

Executing your strategy isn’t just an important thing; it’s the only thing. Unless you actually put your initiatives into action, nothing will have been accomplished. Without execution, there is no strategy. And if you really analyze the agency landscape you’ll realize that the main difference between mediocre agencies and great ones is not vision, but execution.

The problem is, most agencies are too busy working on yesterday’s problems to work on today’s strategic imperatives. This chronic challenge can produce real cynicism within the agency. Employees begin to doubt not necessarily the sincerity of management, but rather their commitment.

Talk is cheap, but execution is priceless

Talk isn’t really cheap – it’s expensive. Think of the countless hours wasted talking about the same issues over and over again. Talking is talking. Only doing is doing.

Unless and until you translate your initiatives into action, the initiatives are really only intentions. And the only way agency initiatives will get done is if the top management of the firm models the behavior it expects of other agency associates. Commitment, discipline, and action start from the top. If it’s important to the CEO and the management team, it will be important to everyone else.

The main difference between mediocre agencies and great ones
is not vision, but execution.

Most importantly, if agency leaders have high expectations, they will get high performance. If they have low expectations, the status quo will prevail. In fact, research has shown that high expectations centered around a goal that takes unusual effort produces unusual results. Normal expectations centered around a goal that takes the usual effort produces the usual results.

Agency managers can’t delegate their responsibility for personal involvement in executing the firm’s initiatives. “Many people regard execution as detail work that’s beneath the dignity of a business leader,” observe Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in the excellent book Execution. “To the contrary, it’s a leader’s most important job.” A leader’s ultimate success isn’t a result of strategy, but execution. Nobody has ever achieved greatness without results.

Deciding isn’t the same as doing

There’s a story about five frogs sitting on a log. One decided to jump. How many frogs were left? Five. There’s a big difference between deciding to jump and actually jumping. Many agencies make the decision to change. But only a few transform their decision into action.