Executing communications strategy: 4 reasons it fails (Part 2)

Last time, we covered 2 main reasons that communications fails in execution. This time, we will wrap up the series with discussion of 2 more reasons. We already covered 2 major reasons that communications work fails in execution: execution is deceptively complex and execution takes a long period of sustained work. This time, I'll add a couple of more reasons. 3. Execution is practical. It takes real skills. By this, I mean that it's very clear if the execution is working or not. The materials "look good", or they don't. They are well-designed, well-written, and well-conceived, or they are not. They speak for themselves, whether favorably or unfavorably. It's its own expression. Thus, execution is much more susceptible to criticism and judgment. And these evaluations are much clearer and easier. I do mean to imply the converse. Strategy is hard to judge and evaluate. This is because the strategy is not objective or concrete. It only promises that. And, in some sense, the strategy can't be judged before its execution anyway. So, for these reasons, execution is hard to produce because the standards are implicitly higher than for strategy. In some sense, strategy is easy to fake and execution is impossible to fake. 4. Another reason that execution is hard is that it doesn't attract as much talent. For some reason, strategy is considered to be more challenging and much "cooler" than execution. Execution is looked down on as "beneath" strategy. For this reason, strategy attracts more senior talent than execution. Indeed, it's often the case that, after a few years in the mines and trenches of execution, individuals can "graduate" to become strategists. This suggests that only at the strategic level is where the real work happens. When the work is staffed like this, the already-difficult execution phase loses much of its guidance. Without seasoned, senior executors guiding the work, the work derails. I see this all the time where the "strategic" minds can't be bothered helping with execution because they don't consider it worth their time. Conclusion So, to sum up, execution is much harder than commonly conceived. There are many pitfalls between a well-conceived strategy and a well-executed communications program. Next time you start working on execution, don't forget to give it the time, attention, supervision, and staffing it deserves.