When an exceptional strategy is matched with first-rate execution, the leaders responsible for the transformation receive acclaim from both within and outside the organisation. Stakeholders are thrilled, and the company, along with its employees, reaps the rewards of their hard work.

However, a common issue faced by numerous companies is that their leaders craft a strategy that is commendable, yet they significantly undervalue the importance of its execution.

It’s often said that strategy is three times more difficult to deploy than develop, which explains why so many strategies result in painful execution journeys for everyone involved.

Many surveys have sought to identify the gap between strategy and execution and while their results differ, they all reveal that the gap is big. The results of one such survey even suggest that only eight percent of leaders are very effective at both strategy and execution and that thirty five percent of leaders are neutral or worse at both.

Another survey by PwC revealed that leaders in nearly half of all organisations are not ready to execute new business strategies in response to transformation, and that the gap between strategic intent and strategy execution creates a drag on performance and morale, while increasing risk exposure.

When it comes to the execution of strategy, budgets and timelines are frequently exceeded and stakeholders get tired of the noise found coming from projects and programmes, because of inadequate orchestration of the transformation.

The colourful benefits on display in the business case begin to fade as it becomes clear that the planned return on investment is diminishing as more time and resources are sucked into the initiative.

This is not to mention the fact that the people and business areas that will live in the new world, are not sufficiently involved with, or prepared for, what’s coming.

This is a reality in many companies because they lack the right transformation tools and transformation management capabilities.

Thousands of troubled transformation initiatives are swept under the carpets of companies which thrive on operational excellence, but discover to their cost, that transformation excellence requires a very different set of capabilities.

So this is nothing new, and yet very relevant to the popular theme of Business transformation, where most of the talk is around strategy, but not so much on an organisations ability to transform that strategy into reality through effective transformation execution.

While companies are keen to evolve their strategies to become more digital, they shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that strategy could be times more difficult to deploy than develop. If you can’t successfully execute, good strategy is quite frankly an unattainable goal that will remain a pipe dream until leaders step up to the challenge of execution.

So what can you do to be better prepared when it comes to transforming strategy into reality?

Firstly, as a leader, you need to become the architect of the capabilities you need both to define and execute strategy. You need to ensure you have the right transformation management capabilities on board to execute and we will explore this in more detail in the next lesson.

The key takeaway from this lesson is that good strategy is only part of the equation in Business transformation. You must have adequate transformation management execution capabilities on board.

Project and Programme Management, Business Process Management, technology Management, Organisational Change Management are all prerequisites for successful transformation. All of which need to be well orchestrated.

This orchestration, the harmonious arrangement of these distinct yet interconnected disciplines, is what distinguishes a truly effective leader in the realm of business transformation. Let's consider the concept of an orchestra: each musician is a master of their own instrument, but it is the conductor who ensures they play in unison to create a symphony. Similarly, in business transformation, you may have experts in Project and Programme Management, adept technology managers, process maestros, and change agents, but as a leader, you must unite them to play the symphony of successful transformation.

Moreover, it’s essential to foster a culture that is resilient to change. This resilience is cultivated not through rigid structures, but through flexible, agile practices that empower teams to respond swiftly and effectively to the changing dynamics of a transformation journey.

It's also about engaging the right talent. As a leader, your role is to scout for and nurture the individuals whose skills and mindset align with the transformation objectives. These are the professionals who don't just execute tasks but also contribute to shaping the transformation narrative.

And let's not forget about communication — the lifeline of any successful transformation. Clear, consistent, and compelling communication not only aligns your team but also keeps stakeholders engaged and informed throughout the transformation process. It builds trust, mitigates resistance, and ensures that everyone is moving towards a common goal.

Remember, in the world of business transformation, the adage ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail' has never been more apt. The preparation is not just in crafting a visionary strategy but in equipping yourself and your organisation with the robust capabilities to execute it. The journey from strategy to successful execution is one of learning, adapting, and leading.