Strategy Redux – The Execution Economy

Umair is talking about strategy as a commodity. I encourage you to go check out the post and read the comments, because some people have no clue what he is talking about. He isn't saying that strategy doesn't matter. He is simply pointing out that in the past, good strategic planning could separate the great companies from the weak ones, but that everyone has been doing it so long that strategic thinking is a skill most companies possess. That makes it difficult to say that your competitive advantage is a better strategy.

While Umair would point to creativity as the place to turn in the strategy-as-commodity age, I would say that is only a partial answer. Creativity certainly helps, and definitely matters in the current economy, but my experience has been that poor execution is the single biggest downfall of most companies.

Every organization that I have ever been a part of has at some point or other, executed poorly. It pains me to say, but this has happened even when I have been the one driving a project. It is just hard to get everyone to say what they mean, mean what they say, and do what they need to do. We know how to execute, but I think the digital age has made it more difficult to follow through. Speed of execution is more important, and distractions are more abundant, so as a result, execution is usually subpar.

My take on a good strategy is that it is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to create a great company. I think lower barriers to entry, the commoditization of more things that once provided competitive advantage, and increased access to information are leading us into an execution economy where the winners will be the people that can get things done. I suspect that Michael Porter may be replaced by David Allen as the guru of the next decade ;-)