10 Key Ways to Align Your Strategy with Execution

Published on: 
BioPharm International, BioPharm International-07-01-2008, Volume 21, Issue 7

Best practices a pharmaceutical company can follow to execute their strategy sucessfully.

Clear strategy and flawless execution are key to business success, but recent studies suggest that most companies' execution efforts fail to yield the right results: 80% of pharmaceutical companies engage in some form of strategic planning, but less than 10% achieve their strategic goals. The following are 10 key ways to help align your strategy with execution:

Tarja Mottram

1. Make Strategy Meaningful to All. Help translate the strategy into clear guidance for managing daily choices and trade-offs. Strategy gains its meaning through dialogue with the people who need to implement it, yet typical executive teams spend less than an hour per month in a strategic dialogue with project teams.

2. Invest in Rapid Execution. Find the gaps that will hinder execution. The capacity to execute is what transforms a company with creative ideas into an innovator. Becoming a world-class product or service provider requires the right talent and the cross-functional leadership and processes in place for rapid execution.


3. Resource the Work. The translation of the strategy to day-to-day resource allocations defines the speed of execution. Achieving strategic targets requires regular interaction between corporate and local decision-makers to resolve conflicts between operational and strategic priorities.

4. Generate Empowered Action. Communicate expectations constantly: up, down, and horizontally. Especially, ensure that the middle managers are on board and support the role and practices needed of project teams. Teams that cannot make decisions and take necessary action to resolve issues build frustration not products.

5. Adjust Processes for the Right Outcomes. The new product development (NPD) process brings the right people together to deliver high-quality products that make the business profitable. Insist on process reviews, not just product and project reviews, and make the improvements.

6. Master Cross-functional Integration. Functional silos continue to be the top reason for project slippage, as most cross-functional teams do not know how to integrate their activities. Build cross-functional project management capability by educating core teams, functional managers, and sponsors on how to make projects work.

7. Manage Natural Tension. Bringing diverse perspectives together can transform the impossible to achievable, but cooperation is not a natural act for entities with competing agendas, goals, and backgrounds. Build proactive processes and skills for partnering, managing conflict, and preventing emotional shutdowns.

8. Focus on the Outcomes You Want to Generate. Define the NPD success indicators for your organization and stay focused on the basics:

  • The customer and the market: Know how to create the most value to the end-user of the product, by uncovering unmet needs (medical and other) and learning how the care–delivery system behaves.

  • Cross-functional participation: Bring all the key players together (R&D, manufacturing, marketing, legal, regulatory, and quality) to define the project strategy upfront.

9. Build Time for Reflection. Finding fundamental solutions to complex problems requires time. Agile companies create time (in the project schedule) for individual and team reflection, creative thinking, and sharing across disciplines.

10. "Let Go" in order to "Let Come." Take an honest look at mindsets and behaviors: Are they in alignment with what you want to create? Visions are not created in the future—they are the product of daily practices. Start with self reflection and then engage your team in defining what needs to stop, start, or continue. Collective energy channeled toward the right goals is what makes change happen.

Tarja Mottram is the CEO of Action for Results, Inc., Andover, MA, 800.613.9358, tmottram@actionforresults.com