Building your Strategic Execution Muscle.

2022-07-13  |  Sara Mazhar, Senior VP, Chief Strategy & Technology Officer

Businesses are transforming at speed and continue to exemplify the true meaning of continuous learning, as well as agility to survive. To be viable, organizations are aggressively reimaging their business models and building solid strategic plans.

This includes not only net new investments in products, services, and talent, but also investment in optimizing their existing business. With such a deep focus on strategy, it seems like all the pieces should come together.

But why then, does it seem like so many times momentum slows down after you hit the ‘execute’ button?

Despite growth being on the top of most organizations’ agendas, there is a disconnect in between strategic planning and strategic execution. Many organizations find themselves reporting phenomenal energy and momentum – yes hundreds of collaboration sessions and project meetings – and yet the needle still may not materially move.

It seems so simple, does’t it? You have a clear vision; you have the right initiatives prioritized; you have the funding available to invest; and you have a team willing to take over the world. Why isn’t the strategic execution of the organization driving results and the aspired value?

Strategic execution is a capability and a muscle that needs to be built and must be customized to your business and operating culture.

The key to building and optimizing this capability, in my experience, is based on three foundational approaches. So let’s get started.

1. Stitch the Strategy Together for Everyone. Through Simplicity. Through Knowledge. Through On-Going Communication.

Often we discuss strategy at an executive and leadership level. These fantastic plans then get converted into functional/departmental plans, and ultimately get broken down further, into hundreds of individual objectives for staff. The execution starts in small disconnected pieces, with no little alignment to the success criteria set out in enterprise level strategic plans.

To be successful, I believe that organizations, holistically, need to understand the strategic plan, and ultimately where people as individuals fit in the bigger picture.

To do this effectively, there must be on-going communication and knowledge shared through the organization. Team deliverables need to be stitched together cohesively and in alignment to the strategic plan and aspirational success criteria. This requires simplicity in how your strategic plans are designed – and communicated.

2. Build the Strategic Execution Muscle. As a Core Capability

The ability to execute your strategy is no small task; especially in the interconnected, complex and digital business environment we face. There is a lot of agility required to re-assess and adjust strategic plans while we are concurrently executing. And leaders need to be ready to take that forward to their teams and to the executive level as it can means the difference between failure and success.

Strategic execution must be built out as a core capability in the organization and it has to be conditioned and matured. It also needs to be measured on-going to ensure our results are delivering on the success criteria we set out.

3. Master Continuous Improvement. Through a Framework. Through AgileMindsets. Through Cross Functional Teamwork

It’s not only the environment that is ever-changing; consumer and clients’ needs, and expectations have been shifted. At Valeyo there is constant change to our foundation in our technologies, the cloud, the cybersecurity landscape and regulations that challenge us to re-think and adjust. How an organization learns, assesses, and pivots needs an agile, yet solid framework. Organizations cannot improve in silos or by moving in multiple directions. Key to success is to have a continuous improvement framework across the organization that is stitched together,

Let’s be candid: Strategic execution and results don’t happen by accident! This takes practice, dedication and a commitment to continuous improvement.

At Valeyo we are building a Strategic Execution Office (SEO) where not only we can ensure we are building the right framework, driving the right communication, and also ensuring we are agile, yet structured, in our approach to measuring and monitoring.

I would love to hear other people’s thoughts and experience on this topic.

About Valeyo:

Valeyo is a leading Canadian-based solutions provider, partnering to deliver a full suite of business solutions, including technology and insurance related products and services for financial institutions nationwide. For more than 40 years, clients have trusted us to be their go-to provider based on the strength of our proprietary products, strategic partnerships, and people. Valeyo is a wholly owned, independently operated subsidiary of Securian Financial Group.

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Sara Mazhar

Senior VP, Chief Strategy & Technology Officer

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