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Formulating vs. Executing Strategy: A False Dichotomy


Is there a time to formulate a strategy and a time to execute it?

Roger Martin explains that separating these two actions leads to suboptimal choices and results. Strategy and its execution are a false opposition since both focus on the same elements:

“So, the distinction/duality is logically indefensible. Both strategy and execution at their core involve making choices under uncertainty, competition, and constraints.”

Read: Why You Should be Afraid of ‘Great Execution’

Read: Why ‘Execution’ is a Bankrupt Management Concept

Viewed through the lens of change, strategy creation and its execution are two key elements that must be thoughtfully considered together.

Thus, it is possible to identify three key elements:

1. Your strategy is a collective effort

  • Involve different stakeholders – Maximize input from various voices and perspectives.
  • Create conducive conditions for change – Cultivate buy-in through active involvement.
  • Reduce barriers and obstacles – Communicate the vision and explore possibilities with your teams.

2. Implementation must be considered at the same time

  • Explore the necessary means for transformations – Deepen reflection by highlighting impacts and required efforts.
  • Think in terms of change capacity – Change and strategy go hand in hand. Exploring strategic options involves exploring the means necessary for success.
  • Explore the different factors influencing this change capacity, which relies on human, technological, and process elements.

3. Mobilize your teams through this exercise

  • Make it a positive dynamic – Strategy establishment can foster organizational cultural transformation. Approach the exercise from a broader perspective.
  • Promote small wins – Think in terms of execution sprints to maintain momentum. Balance long-term and short-term projects to make changes visible and motivating.
  • Recognize and reinforce desired behaviors – Celebrate and highlight successes and behaviors aligned with the vision and values.

We frequently discuss the importance of coherence in strategy, its implementation, and its management.

This alignment implies that all stakeholders are mobilized from the initial stages of strategy and must remain engaged during implementation and “execution.”

This integrated view of strategy enables the development of an organization capable, at all levels, of making decisions aligned with the strategy.

Next Steps

When the time is right, we can help you clarify your strategic choices to achieve your business ambitions. 

Schedule a call here to get started!

Thank you for being with us,

Eric L’Heureux


Master the Levers of Strategic Change

Strategic change cannot take shape without mastering change management. To explore this question in greater depth, we had the privilege of meeting some of the world’s leading experts.

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