Setting a clear strategic direction for a business – identifying the big goals, the critical objectives and the key sources of competitive advantage, and selecting the markets in which you will operate – is the responsibility of the top management team. But delivering the strategy and implementing the actions that will make or break the organization’s success is the job of front-line managers and teams.

It is a little like oil exploration. The senior engineers and geologists may be able to identify locations that are more likely to have significant reserves, but, in the end, it is down to the drill teams to find a way through the layers of rock to the oil reservoir.

These exploration teams will undertake the detailed geological studies, structural and seismic investigations and initial drilling to confirm the presence of oil, and other front-line teams will turn proven reserves into actual oil production, with all the risk and complexity of engineering, drilling and distribution that this activity involves.

Without the initial identification of a possible or likely oil field, the oil company will not succeed. But this is just the start; the first 2%.

The remaining 98% of their performance depends on execution.

© Stuart Cross 2011. All rights reserved.