Which Is It? Strategy or Execution?

The cart before the horse, the egg before the chicken?  These Socratic questions take up a lot of time and space in literature, schools and business forums.  But they are important discussions.  My experience in DeathCare has been that there is a lot more emphasis on what many might perceive as execution than strategy.  People go to seminars and try to execute when they get home without any real strategy.  “Well it worked for George (or so he claimed), so it’ll work for me.”

This is particularly important to raise as an issue as the NFDA annual convention closes and the ICCFA Fall Management conference attempts to make “reinvention” the latest “fad-word” of our industry.

This article from Booz & co.  is especially timely reading.  If you want a balanced and potentially successful approach, that is.

 I once heard a business leader say, “Strategy is results.” He meant that strategy doesn’t matter as long as you are producing results. Many other business leaders feel the same way. Often, this is because they associate strategy with analysis and execution with getting things done, and they attribute more value to doing than to analyzing. From that perspective, a strategy is a lofty, self-evident statement such as “Our strategy is to maximize customer value” or “Our strategy is to become the market leader.” Such “strategies” don’t contribute much to producing results. Possibly, they motivate the troops, although even that is highly debatable.

On its surface, this view that strategy is less important than execution is hard to refute. If that’s all strategy is, execution is clearly more important.

But any seasoned strategist knows that strategy is not just sloganeering. It is the series of choices you make on where to play and how to win to maximize long-term value. Execution is producing results in the context of those choices. Therefore, you cannot have good execution without having good strategy. Read more at Strategy or Execution: Which Is More Important?