What is strategy implementation?

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Understanding strategy implementation

Strategy implementation is the process of converting a formulated strategy into reality – actually implementing the decisions and ensuring that the strategy is being followed. It is a critical stage in strategy – you may have the best plan for how to compete in a market, but unless you are actually able to turn it into a reality, then the plant itself has no value. You have to be able to enact the strategy and overcome the inevitable challenges that you will face in the process. 

The activities involved in strategy implementation

Developing more specific implementation plans

A key first activity involved in strategy implementation is to turn the relatively high-level strategy into more specific activities with a direct plan for how to implement. This may involve:

  • Reviewing and selecting suppliers
  • Deciding the specifics of the implementation timeline
  • Prioritizing certain regions or product features
  • Formulating more specific ways of attracting customers

Thus while the initial strategy may consider the key high-level components of how to compete, a key first stage in implementing the strategy involves adding more specifics to this, that can then more directly be followed. 

Gaining strategy buy-in

Another key component of implementing the strategy is to get buy-in from important stakeholders – both internally and potentially outside the firm. Buy-in is important to actually implement the strategy – it is important that others are committed to the approach.

Creating buy-in at this stage may be a continuation of the initial development activity. Potentially some of the most critical employees were involved during the strategy development process to help gain their input and initial buy-in. The next stage is to try and sell the strategy more broadly within the firm to help gain the commitment of others to its implementation.

Monitoring the implementation

An often overlooked stage of strategy implementation is actually monitoring the implementation process and progress. There will inevitably be issues faced – things won’t always go to plan. monitoring is important to actually identify such issues and ensure that the firm does not gradually creep from its strategy without realizing it. 

Overcoming issues faced

Finally, it is important as part of the implementation process that you actively look to overcome problems faced. Things that don’t line with your expectations are common in strategy implementation – and a key component of the process is working how to get over the problems faced. 

Final thoughts: Recognizing the emergent component of strategy

When implementing a strategy there will inevitably be an emergent component – things that the firm changes as it learns and pivots. While there is nothing wrong with pivoting – it may be necessary based on lessons learned – it is also important to be aware of it, and ensure that the firm is not losing focus in the process. Periodically reassessing the approach can be useful to help identify inconsistencies and ensure that the firm does not lose sight of how it is competing. 

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