Inside the Huddle: Connecting Strategy with Execution

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co-authored with John Sviokla

We’ve hit the point in the summer when football training camps are almost upon us one of our favorite times of the year. Football, in our opinion, more than other American sports, exemplifies the three dynamics we at Diamond use in assessing a company’s Digital IQStrategy, Mobilization, and Execution.

Well in advance of a football team’s next game, the coaching staff must put together an overall strategy. In the days leading up to the game, the coaches and players then walk through every detail and scenario they might face, preparing for battle by mobilizing all available resources and assigning appropriate accountability. On game day, if the initial strategy proves to be sound and each player effectively fulfills his role, the team will walk off the field with a win, having executed the game plan.

Among the 724 respondents in our third annual Diamond Digital IQ study, we found that effective mobilization, with a single, clear organizational roadmap and assigned leadership and accountability was the strongest indicator of high performance. All football teams have separate coaches for the offense, defense, special teams, and various positions, but success comes down to the level of detail in the preparation. On any given Sunday in the NFL, a game-changing play could depend on a single block by an offensive lineman. Consequently, the lineman must remain accountable to the team as the game’s outcome hangs in the balance.

In the corporate world, too many companies struggle with the mobilization phase, leaving them with no way to connect strategy and execution. For example, detailed planning and budgeting of finances, time, and resources often take place too late in the game and an organization winds up backtracking and backtracking is expensive.

In Diamond’s Digital IQ study, more than two out of three of the highest-performing respondents indicated they have a single roadmap for their overall corporate strategy. This compares with less than half of the lowest-performing quartile. Moreover, 54% of top performers indicated they could mobilize the proper resources to execute the roadmap, compared with 25% of the bottom-quartile respondents.

The majority of business and IT leaders believe there are only two parts: strategy and execution. As a result, they are not able to get the maximum value from their initiatives. Where does the responsibility for this reside? Is it the CIOs fault for focusing too heavily on internal-facing projects? Does blame reside with the CEO for failing to champion technology?

We’re seeing more innovation today than at any other point in the history of information technology, but putting pen to paper is a long stretch from going to market.

At the beginning of football season, every team is tied in the standings and hope abounds among each team’s fans. A team will stay competitive throughout the season if it gets all three facets - strategy, mobilization, and execution right. But the team that executes best will always be in position to win, and execution depends on meticulous mobilization.

So where does your organization’s Digital IQ sit in the standings?

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