As the end of the year approaches, so does the completion of the strategic interlock process. Three-year plans are updated, the next year fiscal initiatives announced, and budgets refined. This is where your executive team should be interlocked and ready to execute flawlessly. In aviation terms, you know your formation, run your drills, and you’re ready to go.
But are you?
All too often, corporate teams align to a strategic vision, yet the individual components do not align. It’s the professional corollary to formation flying (if you’re thinking Blue Angels or Thunderbirds, you’re spot on). In formation flying, five to six planes have specific roles and functions, which make up a single entity. If one plane does not hit its mark, or communication fails, the group is out of alignment. The same can be said for the execution of corporate strategy. The vision trickles down into go-to-market, product innovation, etc. Interlock ensures that product, marketing, and sales are ready to act on that vision. If we were flying jets, it’s the eighteen inches between wingtip and canopy. Too far, and you’re out of sync. Too close, and you’re colliding. This is the precision in execution, the certainty that everyone knows exactly what to do.
It begs the questions, “If asked, would your leadership have the same answers regarding corporate priorities? Do they know which markets and accounts are a priority? Is there a clear go-to-market plan where Sales and Marketing has a clear line of sight to execute against? Are their priorities in line with the corporate vision, and more importantly, with each other?”
Defining the Mission Plan
We’ve all sat through Blue Angels or Thunderbirds demonstrations. It doesn’t matter if we’re a kid or an adult, precision flying is something magical. What we miss in those demonstrations are the thousands of hours of flying time that are necessary to put on a show. Trust, shared vision, practice, and communication are critical facets to flawless execution. There is no room for question, no room for interpretation. The team knows what they must accomplish, and they execute it to our delight.
In my professional career, I can only recall one situation where the executive leadership was fully aligned on a vision and the supporting strategy. The reality, the bulk of leadership teams are not in sync when it comes to executing on a strategy. Whether it’s a disconnect over key channels, key accounts, or, it’s critical that executive teams agree on an execution strategy.
Source 2017 Revenue Diagnostic Corporate Strategy Scores by Role
Executing on the Strategy
It’s easy to look at the above graph and get discouraged. Personalities in the room are often big, and the stakes are huge. That’s why it’s critical that the team is in sync before go time. Do your leaders understand how product strategy feeds pricing, and pricing trickles down to marketing and sales? Are your leaders compensated to work together to accomplish shared goals? Do they communicate key changes and refine supporting strategies based on those adjustments? It’s a practice which must be built over time, developing trust. It also requires you, as a leader, to set the tone for your team.
To carry through on the metaphor, you are the lead, and your leaders fall into formation around you. This is a team, who must develop an agreed upon go to market strategy that aligns to the corporate vision. If you’re unsure of where to start, challenge your team to complete the , and use their outputs to establish a unified strategy. By discussing the key drivers and related motions, you will be able to create a structured, meaningful formation, which will delight and thrill your shareholders.