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Got a Good Strategy? Now Try to Implement It

In a recent article from Wharton, knowledge (reg. req) I came across an interview with Lawrence Hrebiniak about strategy execution, which is the premise for his new book. My own experience is with small businesses or ones that I have started on my own. I know that strategy is something the whole organization needs to understand in order for it to be executed. I just do not understand why anyone would believe the opposite. Apparently, some managers don't get it.

Got a Good Strategy? Now Try to Implement It - For nearly 30 years, Wharton management professor Lawrence G. Hrebiniak has taken the art of business strategy and put it under a microscope. Over time, he has brought one critical element into irrefutable focus: Creating strategy is easy, but implementing it is very difficult. In his new book, Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change (Wharton School Publishing), Hrebiniak presents a comprehensive model to help business leaders bridge the gap between strategy making and successful strategy execution. He challenges executives to recognize that making strategy work is more difficult than setting a strategic course - but also more important -- and he documents the obstacles that get in the way of successful performance.

The premise of the book is that "making strategy work is more difficult than strategy making.

Get this... Hrebiniak: "Only recently have people begun to realize that effective execution is a competitive business advantage. Companies are now seeing that if they execute better, they perform better."

"Another reason why it's so difficult for companies to grasp this, is that there are more people involved in executing strategy today - and execution takes longer than people expect."

Strategy is something that needs to be done every day by everybody in the business. In other words, how are the daily activities of people matching up or being coordinated with the strategy? I would be willing to wager my donuts that in most organizations employees are clueless on strategy.

Hrebiniak: "There is still the perception that smart people plan and grunts execute. When companies separate the planning and doing - that's wrong."

Hrebiniak: "Managing change has always been a problem. Look at the Wharton-Gartner Survey from the book [a joint project between Wharton and researchers at the Gartner Group that asked managers about the challenges they face]: Based on responses from 223 managers, we know that their number-one problem is the inability to manage change effectively or to overcome internal resistance to change. Why? Because change is difficult. It creates resistance. People lose power, resources, autonomy, or they perceive that they might lose autonomy.

"The real problem, though, is that people don't lay out a change plan. They don't even think about a change plan."

Funny, they don't "think about a change plan". I wonder if they even communicate to each other. What if the strategy was accessible, in plain english, to everyone in the organization. Imagine what the situation would be like if managers and front line employees used social software applications to work together and activity maps to coordinate their daily activities against a strategy.