Summary of The Execution Premium

Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage

Harvard Business Review Press, more...

The Execution Premium book summary
Strategy that does not link to operations is not strategic. It’s just pointless planning.


9 Overall

10 Applicability

9 Innovation

7 Style


CEOs and their corporate colleagues often take pride in their strategic plan as the big-picture hallmark of executive leadership. It’s a pity then that most companies, even those that adopt Six Sigma or Balanced Scorecard, end up with strategies that don’t suit or support their actual operations. The result is un-strategic strategies and goals that organizations can’t implement. Prolific strategy authors Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, who earned acclaim for their Balanced Scorecard concept, supplement their earlier work with a six-part program for better aligning strategy with corporate operations. In stage one, devise or revisit your strategy. Articulate your mission, vision and values; consider industry trends and your competitors’ responses. Second, create a “strategy map” with metrics for finances, customers, processes and learning – factors familiar to Balanced Scorecard fans. Begin initiatives to close any gaps between goals and reality. Establish priorities and an accountability system. Third, align every aspect of your firm to the strategy. Use the strategy map to make sure all units grasp the overarching strategy. Have them craft their own maps to detail how their activities contribute to the firm’s goals. Departmental staffers must implement these ideas, so help them with an internal communication plan that mirrors the effort you’d put into an ad campaign. Devise reinforcing HR policies and training programs. Fourth, plan operations with a focus on enhancing core competencies. Choose metrics that evaluate vital operations. Fifth, use data to monitor improvements. Gather feedback from frontline staff. Finally, review and adapt your strategy in the face of what you’ve learned. Kaplan and Norton don’t shy away from complex material, so readers who aren’t grounded in sophisticated strategic systems might be impressed, but over their heads from page one. Thus getAbstract recommends this outstanding strategy guide to seasoned executives who are already familiar with the literature of the field.

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