Keys to strategic perseverance
The topic of executing your plans may not be currently trending on Twitter, but it is the key to success, according to Lee Colan and Julie Davis-Colan in their book Stick With It: Mastering the Art of Adherence. It is tough to stick with anything in the current competitive and rapidly changing environment, but that is precisely the reason why adhering to your strategy is vitally important to long-term success.
So, what are the keys to successfully “sticking with it”? The book describes three components of adherence:
- Focus, which gives you clarity on what you need to do to execute your strategy, enabling you to keep things simple and avoid engaging in irrelevant actions;
- Competence, which encompasses the systems, skills, tools and processes you need to achieve your goals; and
- Passion, which connects you and your teammates to your sense of value and contribution.
It is still necessary to have a good strategy in order for your organisation to succeed, but, according to the authors, winning depends less on a brilliant plan than on consistent actions. When a strategy appears not to be working, the problem is more likely to be poor execution rather than poor strategy. Frequent readjustment of the strategy prevents the strategy from taking root.
While I agree that lack of adherence to a clear strategy results in suboptimal results, I am not convinced that adherence is more important than strategy. As the authors have stated, passion is one of the key elements of adherence, and you cannot just manufacture passion for a strategy which your team does not find convincing. In my view a good strategy and good execution of that strategy are of equal importance.
Most of the chapters are quite short, and there are plenty of stories illustrating the authors’ points, so the book is interesting and easy to read. The book has a companion website which provides a number of helpful tools including an online Adherence Assessment and feedback report.