Strategy Execution Success Is the Key to Business Architecture Success

by Jeff Scott, on Feb 1, 2016 11:07:42 AM

S2E_Wheel-1.pngI recently completed a round of in-depth research on the current state of business architecture practices. One of the areas I looked into was the business architect’s role in strategy development and execution. I found that very few business architects are currently engaged in strategy development but that most established and successful practices are deeply engaged in developing their organization’s strategy execution process. Over the next few months I will look at this process in more detail.

An adept leader knows how to apply and enhance his organization’s capabilities to deliver more value– directly to customers or indirectly through supporting activities. While most leaders know what they want their organizations to do, they struggle to translate their vision into focused and effective action. As their strategies move across and down the organization, strategic intent becomes distorted, diluting business impact and wasting resources. Executives need a well-defined process to manage the translation of their vision and strategy into targeted, synchronized execution – a strategy-to-execution process.

Strategy Diffusion Squanders Valuable Resources
Most companies hold strategy discussions once a year, typically at a time when everyone is ready to understand the direction and get moving. Teams spend little time on reflection and refinement of strategies, and strategy documentation is minimal, often consisting of a summarized set of broad goals. Given the short amount of time spent on strategy development and the sparse documentation used to support it, it is easy to see how those involved walk away with varying interpretations. Consider the scenario of a CEO with eight direct reports developing their corporate strategy. If each participant accurately interprets 97% of the discussion, the group as a whole walks away from the table with a common view of only 76% of the strategy (3% x 8 people = a 24% loss of strategy cohesion).
As managers translate strategy down and across the organization, it loses even more of its original intent. As each lower level manager translates the strategy to fit his accountabilities, he unwittingly (and sometimes quite knowingly) interprets the strategy to fit his own interests. This loss of strategy fidelity increases as the strategy moves through the organization, greatly diminishing the clarity of the original idea. Given that this process occurs independently in each business unit, it is no surprise that less than half the organization ends up with a cohesive view of the original strategy. And what about the other half? They are undoubtedly working hard - just not on activities that support the strategy.

The Strategy-to-Execution Process
The strategy-to-execution process provides a structured approach to clarifying, communicating, implementing, and managing strategy. The goal of this process is to ensure the organization focuses on developing high-value capabilities and making investments that optimize value. Implementing the strategy-to-execution process ensures that executive intent is translated throughout the entire organization consistently and results in focused, coordinated, and synergistic action.

The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________

Business architects have a large list of potential deliverables. Everything from application portfolio rationalization to developing business unit strategy. Effective strategy execution is their biggest opportunity do make a significant impact.


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