“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” ~ James 2:14
Sustainable profitability requires a business to be different in ways that are valued by customers. If there are no real differences, then capturing customers becomes a price war which transfers industry profit to the customer. One of the more challenging aspects of strategy formulation is determining in what you ways you want to be different and then aligning all the activities (investments) of the firm around delivering those differences. This is what we call strategy execution. It is difficult to achieve.
Many organizations I have coached in this area can quickly answer how they think they are different than competitors. However, when challenged to prove it by showing how they are investing their capital, time and energy differently – they are unable. Strategy thattalks about being different without actually being different is “sloganeering”. It means nothing, will not last, and is actually destructive because it brings the illusion of having a strategy where none exists. One advertising agency that we were working with insisted their strategy was to deliver “premium service” that justified higher prices. However, they didn’t have different hiring standards, compensation standards, employee development methods, internal job management processes etc. There was nothing about this business that was different than the ten other agencies in the area. And as you can imagine, the business was not growing predictably or profitably.
This is exactly the same biblical principle that is being pointed out in the verse above. “Faith” that is all talk and no action is not faith at all. It is the same as “sloganeering”. It produces nothing and does not last.
Strategy and execution are two halves of the same coin. Strategy is deciding what you believe, execution is acting on it. Execution without clarity of belief leads nowhere, and strategy without the execution of activities that are truly different is really not strategy, it is just talk that produces nothing lasting.