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  • Writer's pictureTara Rethore

How to Make Strategy Work

Updated: May 10

The CEOs and executives I advise always want to accelerate performance and achieve - or exceed - their goals. In short, they strive to make their strategy work.


I advise executives to review strategic progress at regular intervals - better yet, explicitly embed strategic review into their ongoing management process. The most skilled C-Suite teams create and use a Strategic Dashboard©[1] to ensure steady progress and ongoing connection to what's happening on the ground. This practice allows executives to keep strategy top of mind without turning "strategic planning" into another annual event.


Context matters and strategic solutions must fit your specific situation. Still, there are common threads skilled executives pull to spur strategic thinking and action. Three questions to consider as you assess strategic progress and skill:


  • Where are the cracks in your foundation? Challenges often stem from managing growth, delivering quickly and efficiently, or securing the right talent in sufficient quantity. Whether growth is rapid or stalled, small cracks can signal bigger issues. Skilled executives note the cracks and understand the nature of them. They make cracks visible to enhance the quality of the decisions and actions they take to address them.

  • What does hindsight say about your leadership? CEOs set the tone for the organization. Its rhythm and pace. Its emphasis on people (or lack thereof), Its commitment to reaching the destination. And more. Whether intended or not, leader behaviors dictate the ultimate success or failure of a business. Reflect on how well you and your leadership team have operated this year and the messages you've sent. Listen carefully to what is said and unsaid. You’ll find answers and insights in both. Then decide what behaviors you'll adopt or actions you'll take to strengthen performance.

  • To what extent is your team ready for what comes next? Fatigue impacts the performance of the entire organization. Before ratcheting up the pace or embarking on a new strategic journey, take a breath. Then, take stock of resources. Use what you learn to determine what investments you will make to replenish and nourish the business.


Achieving objectives, reaching the destination? It's not about having the most elegant or eloquent strategy. It's about creating the framework and foundation that allows you to consistently take the decisions and actions required to achieve the results you seek.


It's about making strategy work, day in and day out.


The executives I advise do just that. They elevate leadership, enhance strategic agility, and make faster, meaningful progress toward goals.


What actions will you take, right now, to make strategy work?


[1] Learn what makes a Strategic Dashboard© distinct from KPIs or operating scorecard in my book: Charting the Course: CEO Tools to Align Strategy and Operations (p. 109).

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