Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Strategic Thinkers & Doers

1922872_10151940522932466_993549451_nI have just finished my 14th year as a guest lecturer on Strategic Thinking & Planning at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and I would like to share some key ideas from my session.


First, there is no shortage of bright, creative and forward looking people and strategies; I find brilliant thinkers and highly innovative strategies at companies around the globe. However, what there is a HUGE shortage of is people who can effectively takes those ideas and turn them into action. Right now I see a lot or organizations re-working their business models, pivoting, iterating, re-imagining and developing new “go to market” strategies, yet when I asked the 120+ executives in my class yesterday how many companies “effectively execute” their plans, the answer was the same as I have gotten for the last 13 years… 10-15%. That means if you got to 50% execution on your most important strategies you would likely crush the competition.

So here are a few ideas on how to increase effective execution in your organization.

  • When you do your yearly Strategic Planning Retreat spend an equal amount of time on strategic planning AND strategic EXECUTION planning!
  • Set clear, specific, measurable and binary goals for all of your key strategic objectives.
  • Establish ONE main owner of every key objective.
  • Ensure the owner has all of the tools, resources, people, budget and authority needed to achieve the goal.
  • Gain 100% agreement from the owner that they accept 100% accountability for achieving the goal.
  • Create a dashboard and track ALL of the key strategic objectives. Make the dashboard super easy to understand and highly visible to the entire organization.
  • Keep a strong cadence of reviewing the dashboard and the goals.
  • Keeps lots of open, honest, courageous, and transparent communication flowing across the entire organization about exactly where you stand against the goals.
  • Create a culture of “catching people doing things right” and celebrate both big and small wins.
  • Hold everyone 100% accountable for achieving the goals they have agreed to achieve.

This is not everything you need to do, but it is a very good start.

I would suggest you take a moment to rate your organization on how well you are currently doing everything above on all of your key projects/objectives. Score it on a 1-10 scale with 10 being world-class and 1 being horrific! And my coaching to you would be that any place you score a 7 or below needs work!


I hope you found that helpful – take good care — John