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Strategy Execution: Having Trouble Getting Your Strategy to Give You a Bang for a Buck?

By David Gordon |

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You set your organizational strategy. You identify the initiatives you’ll need to undertake to achieve it. Then your managers and staff are assigned the corresponding tasks they will need to complete. Excitement is in the air, and everyone gets on with the job.

Then the end of the year rolls around and somehow the strategic initiatives really didn't get the traction you expected.

You investigate. Employees and managers retrieve the tasks they planned to accomplish only to find that many, perhaps even most, were pushed aside. Reasons for missing targets are legitimate - unexpected operational issues took precedence, the business environment changed, or perhaps unexpected roadblocks slowed progress. But not to worry, the lessons have been learned and won't be repeated. Your team's resolve strengthens, they refocus and commit do better next year.

Yet the cycle continues.

The culprit here is likely poor Strategy Execution Management and it seems to be a major problem facing small organizations where management is often more visionary than tactile.

Leading Executives have turned their attention to new ways of implementing effective execution

Leaders today are becoming aware that a major organizational weakness lies in the gap between management's two primary functions - planning and executing.

We are all familiar with strategic planning; however, turning that conceptual plan with big hairy goals into operational reality is a lot harder than the plan makes it seem.

It is no surprise that when a 2006 global survey by The Monitor Group asked senior executives about their priorities the number one concern was strategy execution. This was repeated in 2007 when a survey by The Conference Board reported that executives' number one concern was "excellence in action" and their number three concern was "consistent execution of strategy by top management."

Companies with a formal strategy execution process outperform their peers

Robert Kaplan and David Norton surveyed 143 members of their online community in 2006 and found that nearly half did not have a formal strategy execution process in place. Of those with a formal strategy execution process, 70 per cent reported that they were outperforming their peers; of those who did not have a formal strategy execution process only 27 per cent were outperforming their peers.

In other words implementing a formal strategy execution process was believed to play a role in making success two to three times more likely.

To be completely straight forward, if Strategy Execution Management is not top notch in your organization you may be unnecessarily risking poor performance or worse - organizational demise.

Over the next three editions we are going to tell you the secrets to successful strategy execution

Strategic visioning, strategy formulation expertise and accompanying tools have been available for decades and most companies are using a variety of these along with specialized operational tools. What seems to be lacking is a comprehensive framework that aligns and synchronizes strategy and day to day operations. Over the next three editions we are going to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to successfully implement a comprehensive Strategy Execution Management framework and with any luck improve your organization's fundamental performance.

Here is a taste of what's to come. You must:

  1. Align and engage organizational units and employees to the organization's core foundation, strategy, and corresponding initiatives;
  2. Create new forms of accountability that allow employees freedom to operate and contribute but always within the context of the strategic initiatives;
  3. Improve adaptability to quickly respond to performance gaps, eliminate commitment escalation to failed courses of action, and quickly make course corrections as needed.

Seems easy enough right? In theory it is, but theory and reality often have little to do with each other.

Stay tuned for the details and a step by step process to walk you through the implementation of an effective Strategy Execution Management methodology.


Tosti, Donald T. And Jackson, Stephanie F. Organizational Alignment. Vanguard Consulting.

Kotter, John. A Sense of Urgency. Harvard Business Press. September 2008.

Kaplan, Robert S and Norton, David P. The Execution Premium. Harvard Business Press. 2008.

The Monitor Group.

Rea, Allison and Silvert, Henry M. Mid-Market CEO Challenge. 2007 Edition. December 2007. The Conference Board.

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