Building the Plane while Flying it

A critical step in strategy execution is 'building the plane while flying it'. While a strategy may look great on paper and have the CEO beaming from ear to ear .... it is important to tinker, modify or alter it, once it is tested on the shop floor or the market place.

Very often it is assumed that the execution process does not require strategic insight. Also the strategists are rarely involved to learn or provides inputs during the execution process. And in a straight jacketed world of management thinking, strategy and execution sit in two different compartments.

One of the critical requirements of great execution is to rework the strategy if it is not making sense. This often involves a great degree of team ideation & analysis.

So instead of sitting on a Gnatt chart, with everyone doing their part of work, teams need to sit together and brainstorm. Teams need to relay the feedback from the customers, analyze the variance between plan and actual and figure out what will work and can be scaled up & what will not work and cannot be scaled up.

So building the plane in mid air is not easy. It also requires deep collaboration with other partners who are involved in execution. These partners could be suppliers, channel partners or end customers. Often they have interesting ideas on how to make the strategy work.

Isn't it strange that execution requires lots of ideation, analysis, collaboration and innovation. Often the soundest strategists are people who are great in execution. And frankly when the plan is airborne, you need all the ideas and analysis in the world to keep it flying and keep yourself in the game.

I often recommend that the best thinkers of the organization and the CEO remain involved in the execution. Rather than looking at execution being on an auto pilot , the CEO must believe that it is execution which creates the maximum value.