Balancing Strategy and Execution

by Lakecia Carter, PMP

Given today’s complex and dynamic environments, PMPs need to be strategic and task-driven at the same time. Balancing the big picture with the small details is often a challenge for us. Balance Strategy and ExecutionOne of Merriam Webster’s definitions of balance is “Here are 5 tips to show you how: equality between the totals of the two sides of an account”. Is it possible to have equal degrees of strategy and execution when leading your projects?

Here are 5 tips to show you how:

#1 Articulate how your solution aligns with the business strategy and goals. Project charters are great tools to create a project road map. However, they often fall short of tying the end goal to the business strategy. Engage key stakeholders to help craft a vision to set a strong foundation to build upon. The big picture is not just big; it is visual, factual, compelling and real. Use it to steer the ship.

#2 Give your strategic players “just enough” detail and your implementation team “just enough” strategy. All projects include stakeholders at various levels in the organization. Communication issues arise when we aren’t paying attention to the message. Cross-functional teams responsible for execution need to be aware of how all the pieces work together to form the big picture. However, you can’t overwhelm them with too much information. Senior executives and business owners are primarily interested in milestone achievements, issues and risks they need to be involved in. Be careful not to leave out important information trying to keep it high level.

#3 Create an adaptive plan with incremental results. Sometimes we are pressured to show results fast, even if it means putting something on paper that is not real. Take a step back and deliver small iterations of value. Be nimble enough to respond to change as it comes.

#4 Cultivate a diverse team of thinkers, not just doers. We rely on our implementation teams to do the work. Engaging them in the process of creating solutions often results in better decisions and quality. Sharing the big picture expands their thinking, allowing them to be creative and innovative.

#5 Be prepared to shift between strategy and execution at any time. Many executives and senior leaders are interested in details that may surprise you. Always be prepared with answers. On the other hand, your implementation team may lose focus on the priorities. Be prepared to give them a snapshot of the big picture.

Wearing both hats is a challenge, but a true game-changer for PMPs!

If you found these tips from Lakecia Carter, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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