Banking Article, Banking Finance 2023, Banking Finance February 2023

The Art & Science of Execution

“Strategy is Important ,But Execution is Everything. Incredibly Successful People Focus on Executing Incredibly Well”     

Well planned and well-organized start bears a fruitful end. When you start your leadership journey and takes charge of your Unit/Branch, you look for a clear path about not only what you want to achieve, but how you will get there. You need to define your goal, clarify your target and get clear on the actions you will take to get there. Leadership in banking requires some sort of extra efforts because of its vast scope of operations. Strategic Planning and execution are the keysto make more informed decisions, set future directions, establish priorities, allocate resources, and improve and monitor results.

The Most important thing in ascertaining the sustainable growth of the unit/branch is to institutionalise strategy implementation in everyday operations through clear key objectives, goals, performance measures and activities. Putting an execution environment in place is hard, but losing it is easy. More often there’d be a lot of talk and off-site conferences but no action. That’s one distinction between team that execute and those that don’t.

Execution is a specific set of behaviours and techniques that we need to master in order to have competitive advantage.

Execution is the discipline of getting things done.A discipline requiring a comprehensive understanding of a business, its people, and its environment.Any business leader, at any unit or any level, needs to master the discipline of execution. This is the way you establish credibility as a leader.

Plan Your Execution- Execute Your Plan

Strategic planning is vital to the success of branch business development. This is high-level decision-making, and to be successful as a Branch or Unit head, you need to deeply understand your business and your industry. Here are five strategic pieces every branch head/unit head should know.

  1. The vision of the organization and the long-term goals: Before you can act, you need to understand where you are headed. Knowing the long-term goals will ensure you have the information you need to create the plan to get there.
  2. The current state of the branch/unit: Before you can design the plan of how to achieve the long-term goals, you need to take a long, hard look at where you are now. This is commonly called a SWOT analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Take a good, hard, honest look at the condition of your branch.
  • The state of the industry: What is happening in your industry? How is it changing? How is the market impacting it? What is happening with technology, and what new products and services are being created? Understanding the industry, what is developing in it, will help you make change that will be strategically successful.
  1. What are challenges and opportunities of area: What the business of the competitors, what is the potential of the area, which segment of the prospects should you target etc.
  2. A good outside perspective: A holistic understanding of what is happening outside of your branch business. What trends do you see with society, competition, and with customers? Getting a solid grasp on the external will ensure you make smarter moves when it comes to the internal.

Diagnose Current Strategic Position of your Unit/ Branch

Strategic business planning helps us in a better position to accomplish what we set out to do, especially in the future. Thus, strategic business planning, is a tool for organising the present on the basis of the projections of the desired future – it is a road map to lead your Unit/Branch from where it is now to where it would like to be in five next years. Before developing strategic plan to achieving the desired results, some ground work need to be done, which includes the following analysis-

  1. Unit/Branch Analysis
  2. Market Analysis
  3. Competition Analysis
  4. Sector and macro environment Analysis

Unit/Branch Analysis: – First and foremost, identify your unit’s strengths. This set of strengths is the basis for strategic decisions about competitive advantage development. Strategy should largely be built on developing strengths (do not focus too much on eliminating weaknesses). Some of the other aspects are:

  • Business figures- Segment wise trends and movements
  • Available resources- Staff strength, Infrastructure
  • Branch image: In the area and among the residence of the
  • Audit rating & Level of compliance,
  • Branch/Unit working culture (Behavioural aspects)

Market Analysis: – In this step we profile and understands the target/potential market.

  • Who are my strategic customers? (Existing & Prospects)
  • Where to serve? (Potential area/customer segment)
  • What are the needs, wants, preferences, values and priorities of the customers you are currently serving or would like to serve?
  • Deepen your understanding of current customers
  • Identify opportunities for future business development.
  • How to Achieve more effective outreach.

Competition Analysis: – The competition” also includes the informal sector … (MFIs’) ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the business of your competitors branch. (Their segment wise business performance)
  • What is the competition currently charging for similar products? (ROI, terms and characteristics of the competitors’ products)
  • What are the systems being used by the competitors to deliver the product?
  • What is the product’s position in the market? What market segment is the product aimed at?
  • How is the product marketed to the public?
  • How is the product perceived by the public? (What do they like/dislike about it?)

Sector and macro environment Analysis: –Sector analysis gives information on trends in your close environment and the stakeholders who have power in and around your business & can influence our activity – the Opportunities and Threats

  • Competitors
  • Collaborators
  • Clients
  • Networks
  • Local bodies
  • Technical service providers
  • Local elite/politicians etc

Formulate Strategy

The strengths and weaknesses describe factors internal to your branch/unit while the opportunities and threats describe external forces faced by your branch/unit (SWOT Analysis)

Examine the extent to which it is possible to match your internal strengths with the opportunities presented by the market environment. Strengths which do not match any available opportunity will be of limited use, while opportunities which do not have any matching strengths cannot be exploited unless you make fundamental institutional changes.

Look for weaknesses that you might be able to convert into strengths in order to take advantage of an identified opportunity

SWOT analysis helps to make strategic decisions according to a simple rule:

  • Avoid threats
  • Use opportunities
  • Base on strengths
  • Improve weaknesses

On the basis of the diagnosis of your unit’s current position, it is now time to look formulating your Strategy. This is best done by addressing three key issues:

  1. Choice of market and scope of operations:
  • Should be focus on Retail or on MSME,
  • Should be target youngers or Pensioners,
  • Should be focus on a specific geographic area or similar penetration for all,
  • Should be target Institutions or a retail individual.
  1. Strategy towards the competition: How I am going to retain my customer base. For example, offering multiple products to an individual can reduce the chance of customer attrition.
  2. Competitive advantage development/maintenance:
  • Effective marketing to our product’s USP
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • Branding- Building your branch/units image in the area.
  • Collaboration & tie ups

Creating a Culture of Execution

We need to create a new reality-based framework for cultural change that creates and reinforces a discipline of execution. This approach is practical and completely linked to measurable business results. When your aim is execution, you need to change people’s behavior so that they produce results. First you tell people clearly what results you’re looking for. Then you discuss how to get those results, as a key element of the coaching process. Then you reward people for producing the results. If they come up short, you provide additional coaching, withdraw rewards, give them other jobs, or let them go. When you do these things, you create a culture of getting things done.

Execution paces everything: It enables you to see what’s going on in your industry. It’s the best means for change and transition—better than culture, better than philosophy. Execution-oriented team change faster than others because they’re closer to the situation.

Know Your People and Your Business;-The leaders are usually out of touch with the day-to-day realities. They’re getting lots of information delivered to them, but it’s filtered—presented by direct reports with their own perceptions, limitations, and agendas, or gathered by staff people with their own perspectives. The leaders aren’t where the action is. They aren’t engaged with the business, so they don’t know their organizations comprehensively, and their people don’t really know them.

Being present allows you, as a leader, to connect personally with your people, and personal connections help you build your intuitive feel for the business as well as for the people running the business.

Execution is all about action: No strategy delivers results unless it’s converted into specific actions. Unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for action, they’re pointless. Without execution, the breakthrough thinking breaks down, learning adds no value, people don’t meet their stretch goals, and the revolution stops dead in its tracks. What you get is change for the worse, because failure drains the energy from your team. Repeated failure destroys it.

The Social Software of Execution:- Like a computer, a corporation has both hardware and software. We call the software of the corporation “social software” because any organization of two or more human beings is a social system. The hardware includes such things as organizational structure, design of rewards, compensation and sanctions, design of financial reports and their flow. Communication systems are part of the hardware. So is a hierarchical distribution of power, where such things as assignment of tasks and budget-level approvals are visible, hardwired, and formal. The social software includes the values, beliefs, and norms of behavior, along with everything else that isn’t hardware. Like the computer’s software, it’s what brings the corporate hardware to life as a functioning system.

Structure divides an organization into units designed to perform certain jobs. The design of structure is obviously important, but it is the software that integrates the organization into a unified, synchronized whole. Hardware and software in combination create the social relationships, the norms of behavior, the power relationships, flows of information, and flows of decisions.

The Importance of Robust Dialogue:-You cannot have an execution culture without robust dialogue—one that brings reality to the surface through openness, candor, and informality. Robust dialogue makes an organization effective in gathering information, understanding the information, and reshaping it to produce decisions. It fosters creativity—most innovations and inventions are incubated through robust dialogue. Ultimately, it creates more competitive advantage.

Leaders Get the Behaviour they Exhibit:-The culture of a company is the behavior of its leaders. Leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate. You change the culture of a company by changing the behavior of its leaders. To build an execution organization, the leader has to be present to create and reinforce the social software with the desired behaviors and the robust dialogue.

Right People in the Right Place-An organization’s human beings are its most reliable resource for generating excellent results year after year. Their judgments, experiences, and capabilities make the difference between success and failure. Yet the same leaders who exclaim that “people are our most important asset” usually do not think very hard about choosing the right people for the right jobs. Quite often, we notice, these leaders don’t pay enough attention to people because they’re too busy thinking about how to make their business bigger than those of their competitors. What they’re overlooking is that the quality of their people is the best competitive differentiator. The results probably won’ t show up as quickly as, say, a big acquisition. But over time, choosing the right people is what creates that elusive sustainable competitive advantage.

Dealing with Nonperformers:-Even the best people process doesn’t always get the right people in the right jobs, and it can’t make everybody into a good performer. Some managers have been promoted beyond their capabilities and need to be put in lesser jobs. The final test of a people process is how well it distinguishes between the performers & non-performers, and how well leaders handle the painful actions they have to take.

The Importance of the ‘HOWS’:- If a strategy does not address the hows, it is a candidate for failure. A good strategic planning process also requires the utmost attention to the hows of executing the strategy. Its substance and detail must come from the minds of the people who are closest to the action and who understand their markets, their resources, and their strengths and weaknesses.

The Importance of Synchronisation:-Synchronization is essential for excellence in execution and for energizing your team. Synchronization means that all the moving parts of the organization have common assumptions about the external environment over the operating year and a common understanding— the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. Synchronizing includes matching the goals of the interdependent parts and linking their priorities with other parts of the organization. When conditions change, synchronization realigns the multiple priorities and reallocates resources.

Setting Milestones for Executing the Plan:-Milestones bring reality to a strategic plan. If the business doesn’t meet milestones as it executes the plan, leaders must reconsider whether they’ve got the right strategy after all.


Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation and planning but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or a battle; the win comes from successful execution. We need to dream to aspire to do something that keeps is striving. But those dreams and ideas and wants to mean nothing without execution. A well-executed strategic business planning process requires both commitment and resources.

Execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business world today. Its absence is the single biggest obstacle to success and the cause of most of the disappointments that are mistakenly attributed to other causes.Execution is not just tactics—it is a discipline and a system. It has to be built into a company’s strategy, its goals, and its culture. And the leader of the organization must be deeply engaged in it.

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