Strategy or Execution - Which Are You?


Strategy or Execution – Which Are You?

September 18, 2014

Strategy or Execution – Which is More Important? Which One Is You?

This is perhaps the most ridiculous question on the planet. The answer is both. What good is a plan without execution and who cares if you’re a great executor if you’re always going in the wrong direction.

The better question is: How can you do both? In school you learn how to write a strategy. In fact, in most major corporations, your initial training is on strategic planning or strategic thinking. However, it is rarely taught in combination with skills/training on execution.

“You have to be fast on your feet and adaptive otherwise strategy is useless” – Charles De Gaulle

From my perspective:

Strategic Planning = Creativity, Inspiration, & Patience

Execution = Perseverance, Energy, Conditioning, & Sense of Urgency

Albert Einstein

It is difficult to find the ability to do both in the same person. However, this is easily found within a team if the right team is designed to achieve both.

Strategic Planning is a bit like watching paint dry (to me)…it’s very slow, incredibly important, and I enjoy scrutinizing the plan once it’s come together. The actual design process is painful and laborious to someone that is a true executor.

We can likely all think of organizations or athletes that execute well…and likely they have a coach behind them who has written the plan.

Unfortunately, many organizations today still struggle with writing the plan and it’s due to lack of time, money, or both. Sometimes it’s due to an arrogant belief that there is no need for help and that you can do it all on your own. The key is how you get out of the every day spiral of chaos to get ahead of the curve. This takes disruptive action. It takes a leader who is willing to upset the norm, the protocol, the process…to force an incredibly collaborative, creative, strategy session to form. It requires an all out pause in the operation for a retreat. This isn’t a few hour meeting…this is usually a 6 month process that is started with a cataclysmic event. Out of it is usually born the strategy that an entire organization can rally behind. Out of it, comes a culture and a change in the way business will be executed. Without it, it is mindless execution where everyone is has a different opinion about what the actual strategy looks like or should be. Competing priorities exist and the atmosphere is less productive and quite honestly, it’s aggravating to the team members who live it every day.

What is your strength? Is it strategy? Is it execution? What are you doing with your strength to cause disruptive action in your organization?

If you would like actionable steps to creating a strategy or to being more effective at execution, then please reach out to me at
Whatever you do, do something to make an impact in one of these 2 areas. If you are not a strategic planner, then hire a consultant to take your team through a strategic planning session. It will be an incredible experience and may change the direction of your company for a lifetime. If you are a tad more enlightened by big strategic thinking in a unique way then check out Burning Man..I can’t speak from experience but I hear it’s a heck of an adventure that usually sparks some serious creativity.