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Making Strategy Work

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Making Strategy Work

Leading Effective Execution and Change

Wharton School Publishing,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

For your managers to execute locally or globally, they need goals, a roadmap and your personal involvement in execution.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Lawrence G. Hrebiniak has crafted a valuable addition to the library of books on how to implement strategic shifts - a much-needed contribution considering companies’ usual abysmal track records when they try to make fundamental changes. He confirms that great execution cannot save a poorly conceived strategy, and he finds that most managers believe that failure to manage change is the primary reason strategic initiatives fail. The author suggests that the first step toward great execution is to take time at the beginning of an initiative to make managers more aware of the pitfalls ahead. In today’s environment, execution is increasingly difficult: merger and acquisition deals involve strategic integration of companies that may be culturally incompatible, and globalism raises the challenge of implementing strategic change across multiple borders. Clearly, if your company can’t execute, there’s no point in devising grand or elegant strategies. getAbstract highly recommends this bridge over the execution gap.


The Key Is Execution

Even the best strategy only works with professional execution. Often managers aren’t equipped to put strategy into operation even though they're expected to. They are trained in strategy and planning, but often have limited knowledge of how to implement.

Execution requires involvement at all managerial levels. The notion that higher executives can pass execution to the lower levels is simply false. "Let the grunts handle implementation" is a formula for certain failure. Experience shows that relatively few major initiatives are executed well for reasons that vary from getting too many people involved to creating a process that takes too long. Other factors that hamper execution are poor communication and information sharing, weak organizational structure, undefined accountability and responsibility, and a culture that doesn’t adapt well to change.

Understanding that these hazards exist clearly improves your chances of successful execution, yet it is no guarantee. Managers really need a model, a system of guidelines, to steer them through the process. Once you equip your managers with a roadmap, their chances of properly implementing your ...

About the Author

Lawrence G. Hrebiniak, Ph.D., has been a member of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania since 1976. His current research focuses on strategy execution and organizational design.

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