Accountability Is Critical to Successful Execution

In the past week, I’ve already discussed what I believe to be two of the most important factors in ensuring successful strategy execution—having an active leadership champion and making the case for change.  In this blog, I want to discuss a third critical success factor—accountability.

While I don’t think it is earth shattering to say that making sure the people who are leading and implementing your strategy execution project are held accountable for it, in my experience, it is definitely worth emphasizing this point. 

Strategy projects are often tasks that are assigned above and beyond an individual’s “day job,” and, therefore, they often take a back seat to their regular work because they are not what people’s job performance will be rated on or worse, they are seen as “extra” work.  Allowing these misconceptions to exist will not help advance the strategy execution ball.

Carefully Select a High-Performing Project Manager

The most effective strategy execution efforts I have seen have all been led by carefully-selected, high-performing managers at the director or vice president level who were held responsible for implementation.  They were held responsible by having the successful execution of the strategy project as one of the success criteria on their annual performance review. 

In fact, not only were these project managers held to account through performance reviews, but their supervisors—senior vice presidents and above—were as well.  As a result, strategy execution never took a backseat to other duties.

Strategy Execution Can't Be Seen as "Extra" Work

On the other hand, I have seen organizations struggle to both develop and execute their strategies when strategic planning and execution were seen as “extra” projects outside of the participants’ usual scope of work.  This inevitably leads people to shirk their responsibilities related to the project because they feel their “regular” work is more important.

So, the key to successful execution is to select high-performing managers to lead the project, hold them accountable by making the successful execution of the project part of their annual performance evaluation, and, finally, reward them for their success. 

In my opinion, holding individuals accountable is a really simple way to help ensure your success.  Good luck!