The common perception is that strategy is done at the top of the org chart, and execution is done below. It is exactly the opposite – let me explain why.

First, I should explain that I have always hated the use of the term “execution.” Its common definition is fundamentally unhelpful, and contributes to what executives often call “the strategy-execution gap.”

Usually when businesspeople talk about “strategy” and “execution,” the former is the act of making choices and the latter the act of obeying them. My quibble with this characterization is that the things that happen in the activity called “strategy” and the activity called “execution” are identical: people are making choices about what to do and what not to do. In my 36 years of working with companies, I still haven’t seen an example of a strategy that was so tightly specified that the people “executing” it didn’t have to make major choices—choices as tricky and important as the so-called “strategy choices” themselves.