Hot Topics: Articles on Strategy Execution

The following articles are fast reads on current hot topics to help you get a quick understanding about some of the core strategy execution and performance management issues facing many organizations today. Click on the links to read the full article!

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Disruptive Innovation Leadership
I have included here a compendium of topics you will need to learn if you are interested in pursuing the skill.  In a nut shell, every leader has to develop their own customized approach to innovation and how they lead in a disruptive world.  There are many tools, but no “one size fits all” formula to follow.  The “art” of innovation is the matching of the tools, the leader’s style, biases and processes to the company circumstances.

Strategy Execution is Becoming the War for Talent
DDI’s recent findings in the Global Leadership Forecast for 2014-2015 stated that only 46% of critical positions can be filled by internal candidates.  If critical positions alone are not being filled effectively, the risk of not being able to fully execute your strategy becomes so great that many new innovation and growth projects go into a long waiting cue.  These strategic projects are overwhelmed by the inertia of the current resources being applied just to the current business model.  Given this issue around critical positions, I co-authored, TM3: A framework for superior talent performance so we can begin a dialogue to discover the key issues and possible creative solutions surrounding three systemic long-term mega-trends that are not going away and will have major implications to an ever increasing challenge to a leader’s ability to execute their chosen strategy.

2014 Study on the Root Cause of Strategy Failures
A.T. Kearney recently published the results of a 2014 Strategy Study with over 2,000 global executives on strategy trends, challenges, and opportunities.  Here are some of the key findings I think are worth highlighting and commenting on.

Executing Strategy for Project Managers
There are many things a project manager must know to be successful in executing strategy.  In this presentation, I cover critical questions that should be addressed.

Questions to Close the Strategy Execution Gap
These seven questions will help a management team define how big the strategy execution gap might be.  They are not easy questions to answer but worth the effort to gain clarity about the current reality of your organization.

The Strategy Execution Framework is adopted by the European Parliament
I am excited to share a real case story about how Klaus Welle, the Secretary General of the European Parliament, used the Strategy Execution Framework from my book, Executing Your Strategy, to plan and organize the EP strategy. He stated the benefit of the SEF very well, “This is a way to reflect about the organisation in its unity. Very often you have courses about strategy, leadership or about project management, but they treat these items as separated. [The SEF] is an attempt to align everything: from the identity of the organisation down to its projects. It helps to find out if there is something which does not match. When you have an isolated reflection about just a part of the organisation, or different isolated reflections about different parts, finally you end up with lot of contradictions. This model helps to find out where are the problems in the organization.”

Why Smooth Execution Depends on Clear Outcomes
This article by S2R describes why developing clarity around outcomes is fundamental to effective strategy execution. Outcomes can be at four levels: organizational, portfolio, project and even at the individual level. We begin by defining an outcome and describing its benefits and then outline a process for the development of meaningful outcomes. We conclude by defining the role of effective decision leadership to ensure a focus on the right management practices that avoid the negative impact of our personal and team biases on defining outcomes.

Innovation and Strategy Execution is Cultural
Innovation never comes from off-the-shelf management consulting solutions! Gardens, like businesses, have their share of uncertainties. Not every innovative idea will yield results, because of soil conditions, rainfall and other factors. But given the right environment, resources and direction, those seedlings may be the key to achieving your strategic goals, whether they are a lush new landscape in a new market with a new product or a healthy boost in current market share.

A Case Study on Building a Strategy Execution Map
This is an actual project to transform a global sales compensation system.  A major insight from using the strategy execution map process was the ability to clearly understand the choices you have in order to make quality decisions for your strategy and how you will execute!

Avoiding Traps in Strategy Execution
The conclusions of one of the most influential business books ever written are now questionable. A recent review by the International Academy of Management entitled, Good to Great, or just Good?, submits that there is no evidence to suggest applying Jim Collins’ five principles from his best selling “Good to Great” will lead to anything other than average results.

CEO Talk Radio with William Malek and Robert Barnwell 
This is a radio interview I did with Robert Barnwell on CEO Talk Radio.  It provides the story on how my book emerged and some key insights I had while I was the Program Director for the Stanford University Advanced Project Management Program.

Defining Strategy Outcomes
The self-help movie called “The Secret” has a basic message, “if you can’t name it, you can’t have it”. While I found a few things in the movie a little simplistic, I nevertheless believe it offers some wisdom that can be applied in executing business strategy. In effect, it underlines the vital importance of defining strategy outcomes.

The Chief Strategy Officer: Who is accountable for strategy execution?
A 2007 article published by Harvard Business Review highlights three critical strategy execution tasks that a CSO must handle: articulate a clear definition of your company’s strategy and explain how each person’s work relates to it, facilitate the immediate change initiatives required to execute the strategy, and finally, ensure that strategic decisions don’t get watered down or ignored as they’re translated throughout the organization. How then can a Strategy Execution Office assist the CSO?

Eight Good Habits of Strategy Execution Leadership
One of the key issues in business today is how we begin to develop the leaders we need for the future. Yet the dilemma is that the future will only come by successfully executing strategy with the leaders you have today! The following are what I call the 8D’s that define the key strategy execution leadership skills to guide any organization’s current and future leaders.

Strategy Execution Kaizen
Innovation is critical for strategy execution in two ways: to ensure your strategy is viable and improve your ability to execute it in record time. Your strategy can become irrelevant if you don’t adapt to the marketplace by providing products and services that customers want. Without continuously improving your execution capabilities, your strategy may not allow you to keep up with the market.

Strategy Execution is a Time Allocation Strategy
Like many of you, I am always amazed at how fast the concept we call “time” seems to pass by each year. As the New Year of the Horse begins to unfold and new budgets and annual plans settle in, I am reminded of how much a manager’s success often depends on his or her ability to predict when things will get done. After all, when resources are invested, is the question “when will we see the benefits?” not the thing that ultimately matters to an organization?

Rewire Your Brain to Execute Strategy
I was intrigued while reading a new management book called “Management Rewired”, by Charles Jacobs. It is based on recent neuroscience discoveries through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging, a new way to see how the brain actually works and responds to stimuli. The book offers some suggestions that have significant implications for conventional wisdom in the matter of getting an organisation, or group of people, to do what they need to do, especially in the context of executing strategy.

How Do You Plan to Execute a Business Strategy?
All organisations plan to execute their strategies, yet many struggle to do so successfully and fall short of achieving the results they have predicted. The problem is covered by the old adage: “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” It should be no shock to learn that the root cause, most of the time, lies not in the technical or tactical execution, but in poor or non-existent front-end planning for implementation, after the strategic plan is completed.

Building Agile Organizations
Soccer, the world’s most popular sport, is a lot like the business world of strategy execution: it’s a complex game where the future possibilities are endless. Proficiency depends not only on your team’s knowledge and skills, but also on your ability to read the field, make quick decisions and communicate with your team-mates. Both soccer and strategy execution are about learning quickly, acting fast and coming up with innovative ways to manoeuvre towards the goal and build an agile organization.

Do You Believe You Can Execute Your Strategy?
Here are a set of questions that will help a team leader to have better success rates in preparing, planning and accomplishing a set of strategic objectives.  By developing a greater awareness as to how people are motivated, leaders and managers can increase the productivity of their team by their own personal commitment to get work done effectively and efficiently.

Do You Have an Innovation Scorecard?
This is an article I published for a Strategy Execution blog called The Glue! It is about the performance metrics of an innovation culture.

Why Balanced Scorecards Fail
This key article by Art Schneiderman in the Journal of Strategic Performance Management  that is quite revealing.  Speaking of several inherent pitfalls in performance management planning, Art explains, “Therein lies the basic flaw in current goal setting: specific goals should be set based on knowledge of the means that will be used to achieve them. Yet the means are rarely known at the time goals are set. The usual result is that if the goal is too low, we will underachieve relative to our potential. If the goal is too high, we will underperform relative to others’ expectations. What’s really needed to set rational goals is a means of predicting what is achievable if some sort of standard means for improvement were used.”

Aligning Your Brand to Your Strategy
This S2R article on brand value and customer loyalty is about disciplined leaders who implement brand strategy and model branding in everyday action. “Integrated branding is the process of revealing the brand promise, then aligning the entire organization to deliver that promise” we explain. Living the integrated brand is the road to long-term business success and sustainability.

Strategic Change Levers
Change management is never easy. Sometimes, finding the right levers to keep people motivated during change is counterintuitive. Not surprisingly, many senior executives pull levers that they feel are important without getting any real traction.

Organizational Alignment
Diagnose just about any organization of more than seven people and you’ll discover that some form of dysfunction is already present. Think of how fast organizational dysfunction can grow in larger organizations and how the systems start to create a life of their own especially if there is no strategy execution discipline or someone accountable for the integration of all the business processes.

Why Some Corporate Performance Scorecards Don’t Drive Performance
One of the hardest challenges in executing strategy is how to align employees towards a common business objective and focus on the key performance drivers of the company’s business model.  Recent research by the Institute for Corporate Productivity has revealed that “much of what drives alignment at high-performing organizations has a great deal to do with engagement.  To enable the process of engagement, the workforce must understand the strategy, what’s expected of them and how achieving those performance expectations will help the business achieve its goals.”

Since 1991, Strategy2Reality LLC has helped both small and major companies around the world successfully convert their vision and strategic business plans into measurable results. Call us now at 1-650-387-3036 or e-mail
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