Drive Strategy to Ownership to Execution

How to Engage Employees, Enable Ownership, and Drive Strong Execution

Business execution strategies need to drive ownership and strong execution. 

The power of strategy is found in execution. Many of the best strategies and plans fall flat without great execution. I have found that strong execution comes from empowerment and ownership of team members at every level and in every department.

Two Ways to Drive Strategy to Ownership to Execution

There are two simple ways to drive strategy to ownership to execution. 

1. Define the end goal
2. Know where you want to arrive

Build a Strong Commander's Intent

What is commander's intent? I've been reading the book, "Made to Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath. In the book they explain a concept called commander's intent. I think there is a lot to learn from the commander's intent concept. 

Let me explain it. The Army, Navy, and Air Force build extension plans and strategies. Each plan and strategy contains extensive detail—when, where, what, who. These details are then sent to every military level to prepare for its execution.

In the 1980's, they recognized a roadblock to this process. They found that even after a detail plan was in place, it would change within seconds on the battlefield. No plan survives contact with the enemy. So they built a process called commander's intent.

How to Build Commander's Intent

1. Define the End Goal

Commander's intent (CI) is simple. Instead of the trying to plan out everything. CI starts by asking what is the end goal? This is a simple statement. It's very clear. Each tactical level then builds their own CI. Now it's very clear the strategy to execute. Without detailed plans, CI gives complete trust and ownership to those who execute. This is the key to successful world-class execution of strategies and plans.

You can see how this would apply to a business. Each department head, manager, and front line worker would clearly understand the end goal and build their own CI to align perfectly to the strategy. They are given liberty to come up with the appropriate solution or execution path to best achieve the end goal. This promotes leadership growth and one of the greatest gifts you can give an employee, ownership. The ability to put their mark on the business.

2. Know Where You Want to Arrive

To arrive at the proper commander's intent. You can ask yourself two simple questions.

1. If we do nothing else tomorrow we must...
2. The single most important thing we can do tomorrow is...

If the CI or strategy is clear, it should be easy to answer the above questions. If not, spend more time collaborating with your teams until it is very clear where you want to arrive. 

It should be very clear and simple. Now let your teams take ownership of the game plan or path to execution. You will be surprised what they come up with. This is where trust and onwership come in. This is where the world-class execution comes from. 

These two simple ways will help your business drive strategy to ownership to execution—creating an impressive culture and building future leaders.

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