The Planning Versus Execution Dilemma

Jerry Rackley

By Jerry Rackley

Last week I hosted a webinar, “Developing Marketing Strategy”, to introduce the Demand Metric methodology that helps do the same. These webinars have been well attended, so during this one, I decided to use the attendees as an informal focus group to get feedback on a theory. The question I posed to the group was this:

Which is better, the good execution of an imperfect marketing strategy, or the delayed execution of the perfect marketing strategy?

I certainly have an opinion, which I did share with the attendees, but not before I got several responses, here are some of them:

  • “Execution takes priority over perfection.”
  • “Great execution of an imperfect strategy leads to higher achievement.”
  • “I would think the delayed strategy.”
  • “Delayed execution of a perfect strategy.”
  • “Execution is more important every time!”
  • “Best to run a non-perfect plan.”
  • “No strategy is perfect. Company’s can procrastinate and miss a great opportunity.”
  • “Good execution of an imperfect plan. It is better to do something and fix it along the way, rather than do nothing now.”

I’ll go ahead and show my hand: I believe the good execution of an imperfect strategy is better than the delayed execution of a perfect strategy. Clearly, not everyone agrees, but I am in the majority, at least in this sample, however unscientific this poll may be.

I confess that I have a bias for action, the result of a history of frustration with the “paralysis by analysis” crowd. Hear me: I don’t advocate rushing through an important planning process. You don’t win the game by just running plays; you have to spend some time in the huddle. At the same time, you can spend too much time in the huddle – at some point, you have to run a play. There certainly is a healthy balance to achieve between planning and execution. There is also a point of diminishing returns on planning.

Here’s why I believe the way I do on this issue of planning and execution: there is no such thing as the perfect marketing strategy. There are very good ones, very bad ones and those that fall between. Waiting to execute until your strategy is perfect would put you in a state of perpetual deferment. What becomes important when you have a good strategy drafted is agility, a willingness to move quickly to make mid-course corrections on your strategy as you execute it, based on the results you’re getting.

I realize marketers everywhere don’t share my opinion, so let us know where you stand on this matter of planning versus execution.


Get FREE Marketing tools, templates, how-to guides and webinars with our FREE membership.