Role of Strategy Execution Team – Be a Devil’s Advocate, Bad News Messenger

While the strategy execution team is not mandated to play the role of making a strategic plan more robust, or act as an early warning mechanism for a strategy gone wrong, it is their foremost duty to do so. They may initially be called a party pooper but if it saves precious resources of the organization’ and makes the organization more successful, then so be it.

Become a Devil’s Advocate to a Specific Strategy and look at the What Will Go Wrong

We are all over-confident and over-optimistic beings. While that has spurred us on as a civilization, this over-confidence gets translated into strategic choices or strategic plans that we make. Most of us tend to believe in the veracity of our ideas, tenacity of our plans and our destiny to win (regardless of market condition and competitive activity) More details please

It is the job of the execution team therefore to assume the role of a  Devil’s advocate. It is the job of the execution team to do so, since they have to drive the execution. They have to question the unrealistically precise estimates of time, resources and targets. They have to imagine a worst case scenario (most strategists do not come up with very gloomy worst case scenarios).

Someone has to be given the role of challenging the false consensus or group-think that may have cause the dissenters to stay quiet. The execution team has to confront and ensure that worst case scenarios is put on the table.

This will help the strategy become more ‘implementable’, give the strategic plan more flexibility and force the strategists to become more realistic.

However for this to happen the management must encourage the culture of challenge and recognize the role of the strategy execution team as a ‘ Devil’s Advocate’

Sink a Strategic Option which does not meet the Pilot Objectives/Targets

In an uncertain world, where industries are being redefined, new technologies, media and ideas are emerging, it is often imperative for the company to pursue a few strategic options and experiment. However while a few companies are savvy enough to look at strategic experiments, they do not define how they will flag out the options that are not achieving the desired outcomes.

So while a few strategists are open to piloting a few strategies, they have not defined what are the indicators to call off the pilot.

The onus therefore comes on the strategy implementing team to raise a red flag, and cry hoarse about a specific pilot not coming through. In doing so, they will face severe resistance from the strategy team and/or company leadership since there is some sunk cost. It is the job of the ‘Execution team’ to look at incremental prospective costs and revenues.

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