I’ve just read a great little report by London based Stanton Marris. It documents some recent intelligence into the challenges of executing strategy in difficult times.

It’s based on the interviews of 45 leaders.

It covers 4 main topics:

  1. Uncovering the hidden risks to strategy – and measuring them and relentlessly following through on them
  2. Using the power of organisational identity – validating strategy by linking it to the existing culture
  3. Reviving the strategy process – exposing execution policies to the doers to make strategy authentic
  4. Adapting your leadership – by applying steps 1-3 above, leadership exudes a calm confidence, a higher probability of success

Many of the observations resonated with the work I do building and accelerating the growth of private companies. I  would make these observations:

Covert risks are just not talked about enough.  These risks include:

  • Lack of support for the strategy – it can’t be a top down only strategy, it needs to be built through interaction and validation
  • Lack of resonance with the existing culture – how many times have we seen diversification fail because culture and skillsets were ignored
  • Failure to communicate –the ability to translate the message is a must-have CEO skill, the recent Microsoft/Yahoo narrative is an example of how not to do it
  • Lack of honesty – the world is transparent, you are only one tweet away from being discovered
  • Undermining by subversion (the terrorist who was once a star but was wronged and now is bad news) –get the good people on the bus but please get the bad people OFF the bus
  • Lack of accountability – strategy must pass down through  and across the organization with Monday morning agendas that move the “cause” forward
  • Lack of diversity of experience – VCs take note, success is achieved by a rich mix of problem solvers not just narrow domain specialists
  • Distractions from the core agenda –so many entrepreneurs run their business like pyramids but upside down – over complex long verbose strategies leading to simplistic narrows actions. The reality, pyramids have pointed tops, that’s your myopic strategy, and multifaceted execution, the long base of the pyramid!

I believe many of the observations from the report deserve attention from all entrepreneurial leaders and their teams. Purchase the report here.