3 Steps to Leading Strategy Execution for Short-Term Tasks and Long-Term Success

Published: Nov 30, 2021
Modified: Apr 08, 2024


From American Management Association

Whether it’s repositioning, outsourcing, undertaking a new technology, launching a new initiative, or expanding into new markets, executing a strategic goal is an involved process. Without sound leadership at every phase, even the best-thought-out plan with remarkable business-transforming potential is bound to wind up on the pile of brilliant ideas that failed to live up to their promise.

To ensure ongoing progress towards achieving the ultimate strategic goal—as well as dealing with problems that come up along the way before they escalate—leaders need to keep a firm eye on short-term tasks and near-term priorities. These are the immediate and specific tasks or steps associated with executing the strategy. Such priorities should be measurable and manageable—that is, realistic for the project team to get done within the desired timeframe. As a general rule, near-term priorities in a strategic plan should be executed in 90-day cycles. To meet that mark, regular progress reviews are essential.

As part of its professional development mission, American Management Association (AMA) equips business leaders with the skills and knowledge to accomplish what for many remains an elusive feat: the successful implementation of strategic goals. One critical component is the Monitor, Review, and Evaluate Approach, or MRE for short. Applying MRE helps business leaders stay focused on short-term tasks and near-term priorities, step by step and stage by stage.

It all starts with being a keen observer and keeping check on what’s happening. The Monitor steps helps you discover whether your approach to strategy execution is working. Was the short-term task delivered as promised? Have timelines been met? Did team members encounter any obstacles or setbacks? Has progress been made toward the ultimate strategic goal?

Then, it’s time to look more carefully and critically. The Review step guides you through a deeper examination of the short-term tasks that were just completed. What worked, and what did not? Were there any unexpected outcomes, whether positive or negative? Is the team ready to continue moving toward the ultimate strategic goal?

After Monitor and Review, it’s time for an honest appraisal of the quality of the short-term tasks. The Evaluate step encourages leaders to pause and take stock. Should the strategy be modified? Are the initial assumptions still valid? Should the team build on their incremental work and priorities met and keep on going—or does the plan need an adjustment?

The MRE Approach should be repeated at the end of each 90-day cycle throughout the strategic plan. By paying close attention to how near-term priorities are executed, you can learn valuable lessons for the long-term project. And, as a leader, you can take comfort in knowing: A project with a good, strong beginning and a solid middle is almost certain to have a satisfying ending.

About AMA

American Management Association (AMA) is globally recognized as a leader in professional development. For nearly 100 years, it has helped millions of people bring about positive change in their performance in order to improve results. AMA’s learn-by-doing instructor-led methods, extensive content, and flexible learning formats are proven effective—and constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of individuals and organizations. To learn more, visit www.amanet.org.