All of the work that a leader does related to values definition, leadership development, direction-setting, communication, and motivation, will come together when it is time to implement an initiative. Although many companies look outside for explanations when they encounter failure, Kraemer believes that execution often runs into problems because there is no clear owner. As a result, failure can usually be attributed to an individual leader or to organizational factors.
When it comes to implementation, leaders must strike a balance between delegation of work to others and personal involvement. This requires leaders to maintain some managerial duties. Kraemer suggests that a person cannot be a good leader unless he or she is also a good manager. Leaders should never lose touch with what is happening on a day to day basis. A good analogy is the coach of a sports team. He or she remains close to the action, but delegates to the team members who are on the field. At the same time, the coach maintains enough distance to determine what changes may need to be made.
There are four management processes that are essential for good implementation and execution: strategic, people, operations, and measurement. These four processes must work together simultaneously.
* Strategic process. The strategic process helps teams identify where they are today and where they want to go in the future. Part of the strategic process is identifying key issues, opportunities, and alternatives that may affect the company. One way to view this process is as a road map that is constantly updated to take the company in a new and specific direction.
* People process. This process ensures that leaders have identified team members who are well suited to carry out the vision that was identified in the strategic process. Human resources is a very important partner, who can help link the strategic and people processes.
* Operations process. The operations process or operating budget focuses on the present, while the strategic process is focused on the future. The goal of the operations process is to identify the steps needed to attain the company’s vision. Ideally, the operations process should encompass the first year of the strategic process. For effective execution to occur, the strategic, people, and operations processes must be closely aligned.
* Measurement process. During execution, teams often overlook measurement. This is a significant problem since things that are measured and defined get accomplished in an organization. On the other hand, companies should not go overboard and become burdened with unnecessary reports. Kraemer recommends that teams carefully consider what they measure, and why they measure it. To that end, he suggests developing key metrics and reporting on an exception basis. Under exception based reporting, if a division is within a certain percentage of its operating goals, then the leader does not need to review its reports. Of greatest interest to leaders are groups that are either over-performing or under-performing.
One of the leader’s roles is to ask the right questions, which will ultimately lead to the best decision. Good questions can determine whether a strategy is sound, whether the right employees are on the team, or whether or not the company’s operations are competitive in the industry. While there will be large amounts of information and many distractions, good leaders keep a balanced point of view and make well-reasoned decisions. After a decision has been made, the leader must remain engaged.