Research by Dr Arnoud Franken, Professor Chris Edwards and Rob... specific actions that organisations need to take to improve their...

Research by Dr Arnoud Franken, Professor Chris Edwards and Rob Lambert highlights
specific actions that organisations need to take to improve their strategy execution
How to Succeed with Executing Strategic Change
Dr Arnoud Franken
Seven out of ten organisations fail to execute strategic change successfully,
according to the management literature. So what do the successful three out of ten
organisations do which makes them stand out? To find out exactly what these
organisations do differently, we identified ten management elements for successful
strategy execution as well as seven business benefits that could be realised if these
elements are performed effectively.
Using this information, we then surveyed 93 organisations and followed it up by
focus group meetings with senior managers. What emerged was that while mastery
of formal methodologies and development of business cases are important,
successful strategy execution is critically dependent on having a culture conducive to
change and a harmonised strategic leadership team that actively supports the
execution of strategic change. Further, it requires having a portfolio of change
programmes that are explicitly aligned with the organisation’s strategy and is
managed on an ongoing basis. Additionally, individuals accept accountability for
delivery of these change programmes.
There are specific actions that organisations should take to identify which elements
of their strategy execution capability need to improve in order to take their
performance to the next level.
Four Critical Elements for Successful Change
There are four success elements which stand out:
1. A good understanding of why change is necessary
The first is people that have to execute change must have a good understanding of
why change is necessary, but also what the direction of change is, because without it
people don’t have a guide to move forward in the right direction.
2. Business leaders must walk their talk
The second is that business leaders must walk their talk. They must demonstrate
what it is that is important to achieve success and properly support it with resources.
3. People must be accountable for change
Linked to that is the third element: people must be accountable for change. And
again, business leaders must provide the example.
4. Change portfolio must be managed
Fourthly, the portfolio of change initiatives must be managed on an ongoing basis.
It must be very clear what the priority of each of these change initiatives is and each
needs to be adequately resourced.
Importantly, all of these four elements must be managed in an integrated fashion
and on an ongoing basis. Our research indicates that this is not at all easy to
accomplish. To take your organisation’s strategy execution to a new level, we
suggest you start by examining your current performance and take steps to focus on
key changes and put them into practice:
Four Action Steps to Take Your Organisation’s Strategy Execution to the Next Level
1. Assess your strategy execution performance
Assess the organisation’s performance by discussing with knowledgeable
colleagues the organisation’s recent performance in executing strategic
change programmes.
2. Harmonise the strategic leadership team to agree the need to improve
the strategic execution capability
Convince the strategic leadership team of the need to improve the
organisation’s strategy execution capability
Obtain support as to which business benefits to focus upon
Secure resources to fund the initial stages for achieving improvement
3. Determine and assess your critical elements
Identify which elements of strategy execution are most influential to the
realisation of each of the prioritised business benefits.
Determine the major weaknesses of the identified elements of strategy
execution in your organisation.
4. Create your change portfolio to improve your strategic execution
Analyse each element to identify an outline improvement programme
Prioritise these improvement programmes within a change portfolio
Commence implementation an put it into practice
Our approach for successful strategy execution integrates and harmonises the
key success elements that have been identified i n the management
literature. The four steps to achieve improvement will assist practitioners i n
taking their organisation’s strategy execution to the next level. This approach
will enable practitioners to assess the performance of their organisation in
executing strategy and to identify focused interventions for improvement.
Further details of this research are contained in California Management Review:
“Executing Strategic Change: Understanding the Critical Management Elements
that Lead to Success” Arnoud Franken, Chris Edwards, and Rob Lambert.
51/3 (Spring 2009): pp 49-73.