By now you have heard the saying attributed to Peter Drucker “Culture eats Strategy for…”, take your pick- breakfast, lunch or dinner. Does that mean you throw strategy out the window? Absolutely NOT! Strategy and culture go hand in glove to achieve results. There is a key piece to ensuring that you are successful however- Execution. Let me give you some varied examples from different disciplines:
Military– if you have a chance, read about the D-Day invasion. There were definitive plans and significant preparation and yet due to delays, miscalculations and other pieces of missing or erroneous information, the troops had to modify their approach. General Eisenhower is famously cited as saying something to the effect of:
“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything,” he said he had heard in the Army. In an emergency, he went on, the first thing to do is “to take all the plans off the top shelf and throw them out the window.”
“But if you haven’t been planning you can’t start to work, intelligently at least,” he said.
Why then was this successful from a military standpoint?
Music- how many times have you heard the same piece of music performed by a different artist? Same lyrics, perhaps even the same notes but the atmosphere, who you are with, the venue perhaps made it special. Then there is the execution- the feeling, emotion, or sound of the performer that make it different. But who put all of this together? Sound crew, lighting crew, etc. all working together to produce the experience. Perhaps you like one version better than the other and yet, they are essentially the same piece. Why is that?
Athletics- pick your sport and the analogies are the same. Whether or not you are a fan of the New England Patriots, you need to respect their success. I don’t know Bill Belichick personally but one thing I have observed is that they execute very well. There is no secret to what they do, they do it consistently at an excellent level. The same was true of Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers of the 60’s and of most successful teams and individuals.
For each of the disciplines mentioned, there are strategies, there is the element of culture to build a team to deliver the work-but the success comes down to executing. The commonality- having a plan to follow, the right people who can work together to make it happen and then the actual delivery- the execution.
The message here is that if you have people that can execute, it (almost) doesn’t matter what the strategy is, you will find success. So what does that mean for your organization? Do what you know you can execute well. That doesn’t mean you don’t stretch and expand your capabilities, just make sure you have everyone ready to take that road together. Learn, adjust, and commit and you can be successful in your mission, whatever it is.